San Mar Exists today
to provide appropriate
structure, healthy
nurture and abundant opportunities to children and youth in need that they may become productive members of society tomorrow.

Historyprint friendly version

1883History Photo 4

During the years following the Civil War, concern was expressed throughout the Washington County community for the orphan children with no apparent place to live other than the County Alms House where many homeless adults were also living.

By 1883 an action plan was implemented as a group of prominent citizens came together to form a new non profit corporation: The Washington County Orphan’s Home. Together, they were able to raise enough funds to purchase the property at 355 South Potomac Street, in Hagerstown, and to hire a superintendent and several other staff. In a report to the board of managers in 1918 then superintendent, Walter Esmer noted "It was the first successful attempt in the State of Maryland of the people of a county, without state financial assistance, to care for their county’s dependent children."

History Photo 3On November 8, 1883 seven year old Eddie and his five year old sister, Edith moved out of the Alms House and into the safety of the new orphanage. That first year welcomed 69 children into care. They were to become the first of thousands to follow.


History Photo 1Only two years later it became clear the majority of children in need were not orphans. In the first of a series of adaptations to changing times and needs the home changed its name to "The Washington County Home for Orphan and Friendless Children" and amended its charter, expanding its' purpose to provide for orphans and destitute children who came under the organization’s care.

1927History Photo 2

For the next 44 years the Home continued to provide care for children at the original location in Hagerstown. Then in 1927 a move was made from the aging facility to a newly constructed modern building located on 60 acres in the rural community of San Mar located ten miles away.


The name was officially changed to reflect the move to the community of San Mar.


In March, 1987 the board of managers made the decision to specialize care to adolescent girls and to increase the services offered. At the same time an extensive renovation of the facility was completed.


The Edward and Pauline Anderson Transitional Living Home is opened for girls successfully completing the program in the main group home.


San Mar is licensed as a Child Placement Agency.


Operating under the Child Placement Agency a program of Treatment Foster Care is begun. Whereas the original intention of the program is to provide an additional resource to girls completing the group home children and youth may be placed into homes without ever having been in any other San Mar program. Once again through the foster care program San Mar is able to provide care for both girls and boys.


The Maryland State Department of Education licenses the San Mar Educational Program


The San Mar Educational Program is upgraded to status as the San Mar School


On August 1 the Jack E. Barr Therapeutic Group Home opens. The program has a capacity for 8 girls. By November 21 the program is operating at full capacity where it will remain for a long time.


On February 28 San Mar receives national accreditation from the Council On Accreditation for all residential, educational, and treatment foster care programs operated by the organization.


San Mar is fully certified as meeting the Standards of Excellence


The Maryland Department of Human Resources grants San Mar a license to operate as an Adoption agency. The organization is offered a $400,000 grant from the Department of Juvenile Services to construct and operate a Shelter Care program for girls. The board commits to conducting a capital campaign to raise 1.2 million dollars for matching funds for the shelter and for a multi purpose center to serve all the girls in care.


San Mar is licensed as an Adoption Agency


On July 26 the shelter opens and the first girl moves in.

In September the organization is re-accredited by COA.


San Mar’s Teen Mother and Infant program is licensed.


Allegany Girl’s Home joins the San Mar Continuum of Care.