Margaret Gaffney Haughery
"She was a mother to the motherless; she was a friend to those who had no friends; she had wisdom greater than schools can teach; we will not let her memory go from us."
Margaret Gaffney Haughery (pronounced as HAW-a-ree) (1813 - 1882) was one of New Orleans best-known philanthropists, and was widely known as "Our Margaret," "The Bread Woman of New Orleans", and "Mother of Orphans." After early personal tragedy, Margaret devoted herself to helping the city's orphans, working in partnership with the Sisters of Charity and the New Orleans Archdiocese. Margaret used the profits from her bakery businesses to feed the hungry and to support her various causes.
Orphaned at age 9, Margaret Gaffery married Charles Haughery in 1835 and the couple soon moved to New Orleans. One year later Margaret gave birth to a daughter Frances. However, like other New Orleanians of the time the family suffered from epidemics of yellow fever and cholera. When Margaret was just 23 years of age, both her husband and her daughter became seriously ill and died. This was the second time that Margaret lost her entire family. As she herself said, “My God! Thou hast broken every tie: Thou hast stripped me of all. Again I am all alone.”
It was then she began her great career of charity. Margaret was alone in the world, and despite being destitute and illiterate she was strong and knew how to work. Despite her tragedies, or because of them, Margaret was determined to do something in her life to help the plight of widows and orphans — something she understood very well. Working her way up from the laundry room at the St. Charles Hotel, Margaret ultimately started her own bakery businesses that made her a wealthy woman.
In addition to providing baked goods to the City’s orphans and destitute poor, Margaret was able to devote the proceeds from her businesses to provide permanent housing to local orphans. Among the beneficiaries of her generosity were the St. Theresa Asylum (Erato Street), St. Elizabeth's Asylum (Napoleon Avenue), St. Vincent's Infant Asylum (Race and Magazine Streets) and the Louise Home for Girls (Clio Street). At her death, her entire estate--some $30,000--went to the poor of New Orleans. Many years later in the 20th century several of the asylums Margaret originally founded as places of shelter for orphans and widows evolved into homes for the elderly.
A woman of unsurpassed charity, Margaret became famed for her lifelong championing of the destitute. Countless thousands New Orleanians considered her a living saint worthy of canonization. Born into poverty and orphaned at a young age, she began her adult life as a washwoman and a peddler — yet she died an epic businesswoman and philanthropist who received a state funeral. The statue honoring her stands at the intersection of Prytania and Camp Streets.
MTC/Friends of Margaret Coalition
In 2008, the Monumental Task Committee carried out a preliminary assessment of many of the monuments of the City of New Orleans. From this assessment, MTC identified a critical need to conduct a professional conservation assessment report for the Margaret Haughery monument with treatment recommendations and an accurate restoration budget.
In 2013, the National Trust for Historic Preservation awarded the MTC with a matching grant to conduct the professional assessment which was carried out by Ivan Myjer, a renowned architectural conservator with an expertise in the conservation of historic stone structures. Over the following two years the conservation treatment of the monument was carried out under his leadership with assistance from Linda Stubbs using the gentlest and most current materials and techniques.
We are proud to say that on July 9th 2015, the MTC celebrated the completion of the Margaret Haughery monument treatment. We would like to extend our gratitude to all those who kindly supported our efforts and who contributed financially to the project. We would like to thank the members and friends and extend special thanks to:
The National Trust for Historic Preservation
The Ancient Order of Hibernians
Bayou Tree service
Coliseum Square Associates
Friends of Margaret
Krewe of Muses
Grace and Ava Marchand
John and Chickie Martin
Roger H. Ogden
The work is not finished yet! We are still raising funds to support the perpetual care of Margaret.
Donations of $1000 or more to support the ongoing care of the Margaret monument will be recognized on a bronze plaque mounted near Margaret. (Deadline September 1, 2015)
Stay Connected with the Movement to Restore Margaret!