Officially, it was known as the Catholic Protectory, an orphanage for boys in the Diocese (later, Archdiocese) of Newark.
Eventually, it was called Boystown, and for a century it offered a home to generations of youths. The postcard photo is from 1906, which surprised us because we hadn’t realized Boystown was that old. Then we learned it was even older.
According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, Newark Bishop Winand M. Wigger ‘removed the Catholic Protectory to Arlington’ in 1883 and ‘established the Sacred Heart Union to aid in its maintenance.’ Initially, the Protectory, launched in 1875 by then-Newark Bishop Michael Corrigan, was located in Denville. Boystown closed its doors in1984, but the property on Belgrove Drive is still used. It is now the headquarters for the Archdiocese Youth and Young Adult Ministry and serves as the CYO Retreat Center. The Victorianera housing is long gone, but the lovely church still stands. And recently, a refurbished meditation garden opened just to the north of the church. It is a place of peace and beauty and contemplation. And you don’t have to be Catholic to visit.
– Karen Zautyk