Our History

A Journey of Hope Since 1843.



In a bustling city on the banks of the Ohio River, women and girls who found themselves poor, homeless, and otherwise without support, had little hope in Louisville until Maryhurst opened its doors in 1843. 

Invited to America by Bishop Flaget, the Sisters of the Good Shepherd boldly sent five nuns across the Atlantic to start the charity that would become Maryhurst. Leaving their home in France with the knowledge that most would never return, these Sisters endured several weeks of travel that included ship, stage coach, train, and riverboat.

Arriving in Louisville in December 1842, the Sisters of the Good Shepherd had no home of their own. A mere nine months later, the Good Shepherd Sisters opened their own residence and took in their first child, Mary Fitzpatrick: “She came, broken in health, from a cursed haunt.”

In many ways, the Sisters were ahead of their time in their values and philosophy of care. Corporal punishment was forbidden, residences were racially integrated, and the Sisters encouraged each girl to recognize her individual worth. 

The Sisters also understood the value of family and worked to help girls reunite with parents whenever possible. A second residence was built in the 1860’s because the demand for services was so great.

Maryhurst’s first contract to care for dependent children paid a mere 33-1/3 cents per child per day. In the decades since, Maryhurst has consistently led the way in meeting the growing and changing needs of children and families in our local community and throughout the Commonwealth of Kentucky. The result of our evolution is a continuum of services that prevents abuse, restores hope, and empowers survivors.

In 1989, we established the first private therapeutic foster care service in the state. As the trauma-informed philosophy emerged as the most compassionate and effective model for working with survivors of abuse, we became the first agency in Kentucky to fully adopt it across our programs. In 2014, as we further prioritized prevention and family preservation, we began offering counseling services for children and families.

In 1998, the Sisters of the Good Shepherd turned the ownership of our agency over to our board of directors.  Although we now function independently as a nonsectarian, 501(c)3 nonprofit, we continue to hold dearly to the values of care we inherited from our founders.


St. Mary Euphrasia establishes the Sisters of the Good Shepherd in Angers, France.


Five sisters sent by St. Mary Euphrasia open the first Maryhurst home on 8th St. and Madison in Louisville.


A second location opens on Bank St. to serve additional girls in the West Louisville neighborhoods.


The agency first adopts our current name of “Maryhurst” (previously known as House of the Good Shepherd).


Residential cottages and administrative offices relocate to Dorsey Lane on the East End of Louisville, where they remain today.


To better ensure success for children completing residential programs, Maryhust begins independent living services for girls age 18-21.


In an effort to prioritize family settings, Maryhurst starts offering foster care services – the first private provider of such care in Kentucky.


Transferred ownership to the Board of Directors, becoming a private, nonsectarian 501(c)3 nonprofit.


Turning further attention to prevention and family preservation, Maryhust begins offering counseling services for children and families.


Celebrates 175 years in continuous operation, making us the oldest child welfare agency in Kentucky.