Nicholas Frederic Brady (1838-1930)

A Match Made In Heaven…The History of St. Ignatius Loyola Day Nursery and the
Life of Nicholas Frederic Brady (1838-1930)

On July 12, 1915, Nicholas Frederic Brady sent a letter to the Rector of St. Ignatius Loyola and he said, “I beg to offer to the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola the building at 240 East Eighty—Fourth Street for a Day Nursery in memory of my father, Anthony Brady. The only condition I make is that none shall be denied the use of its facilities on account of race, creed, or color. It is my intention to support this nursery during my lifetime, and leave an endowment commensurate with its needs thereafter.” He promised a new site and purchased it, and on this property he erected a magnificent five-story Gothic Revival cast stone structure to be the home for the children and Sisters.

A new chapter developed in the ninety-seven year history of St. Ignatius Loyola Day Nursery. The program began in a small house located at 243 East 82 Street on June 10, 1910, under the corporation of the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola, the direction of Father Martin Scott, S.J., and the Ladies’ Auxiliary. Under the patronage of the Ladies’ Auxiliary, the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola Boy Choir gave a concert at the Hotel Plaza on March 23, 1914 for the benefit of the Day Nursery children. The Day Nursery offered a night shelter, too; the children were referred to as orphans. In 1913, the Day Nursery relocated to 142 East 82 Street and the Sisters of Bon Secour managed the program until 1917; they were succeeded by the Sisters of Charity. The Day Nursery offered peace of mind and security to young mothers desperately trying to secure employment and care for their children in what was the poor tenement community of Yorkville.

It was Nicholas Frederic Brady’s love for church and children that naturally engaged him in the special ministry of the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola. For one to fully appreciate the depth and breadth of Nicholas Frederic Brady, it is necessary to detail his spirit of generosity and his love for Church, Charity, and Genevieve. Nicholas was born in Albany, New York, on October 27, 1878. His father, Anthony N. Brady, emigrated from Ireland at a very young age and was responsible for the family’s wealth. His mother, Marcia Meyers, an Anglican, was from New Hampshire.

Nicholas was raised Episcopalian. He graduated from Yale University in 1899. In 1906, he married Genevieve Garvan, a devout Catholic, of Hartford, CT. It was Genevieve’s influence that brought Nicholas to the Catholic Church shortly before their marriage. Nicholas and Genevieve were parishioners of the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola. They lived at 910 Fifth Avenue, New York. They did not have children of their own. As philanthropists, much of their charity involved children. Nicholas and Genevieve used their wealth as a means to serve their church and community.

Nicholas was a leader, visionary, and great financial power of his day. He was the President of New York Edison Company, the chairperson, owner, and/or director of dozens of corporations including
Westinghouse Electric, Chrysler Corporation, Emigrant Savings Bank, and National City Bank, just to name a few. He was responsible for extending Brooklyn Rapid Transit into Manhattan and for the consolidation of gas and lighting companies. He studied Pope Leo XIII’s Encyclical, “Rerum Novarum,”
on the condition of the worker. Nicholas was intellectually and spiritually guided by the many books he read on ethics, social justice, papal encyclicals, and canon law. Nicholas initiated fair wages and benefits for his employees and respected the dignity and sanctity of every human being. He held high ideals and conducted business with integrity and fidelity.

Nicholas was a modest and humble individual who loved the quiet life while at home in his personal library. Nicholas, a noble and devout Catholic, once made this statement to a Jesuit friend, “what are rich people but the trustees of God for the deserving poor and honest labor…the natural law seems to say plainly enough that adequate wages should be the first payment…the working man’s right and dignity should come before high dividends”.

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