Father Harold Purcell, founder of the City of St. Jude, came to Montgomery, Alabama in 1934. His dream was to create a “center for the religious, charitable, educational and industrial advancement of the Negro people.” He built our church and school structure in 1938, as well as a social center in 1939 (which presently houses our museum). The money to build The City of St. Jude was raised entirely through small donations from people throughout the country. This support was crucial to building a new school in 1947 and hospital in 1951.
St. Jude Catholic Hospital was the first integrated hospital in the southeast and the place where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s first two children were born. The hospital served tens of thousands of blacks, poor whites and other disenfranchised citizens of Alabama’s capital.
Although Father Purcell died in 1952, his vision still lives today through St. Jude Catholic Parish, St. Jude Social Services, St. Jude Apartments and Father Purcell Memorial Exceptional Children’s Center.