1899, there was an acute shortage of housing for the
city poor who could not afford to pay rent. In order
to ease this problem, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul
in that same year rented a building which it called "Nazareth House".
At the inception of the House, room
was provided for seventy women. In a short period of time
however, the programme became so much sought after that
another smaller building on the compound on George Street
Ten years later in 1909, the
Society built its own home at the cost of $17,000 which
was derived from the generosity of the entire community.
This building was NAZARETH House, which still stands
at 20 Duncan Street, Port of Spain, and affectionately
called "The Grand Old Lady of Duncan
The front ground floor of the building
houses the Secretariat of the Society of St. Vincent de
Paul . There is a large kitchen on the compound that from
1937 to in the late 1970's served hundreds of school meals
daily to children of ten primary schools in Port of Spain,
and which today provides meals to the two hundred residents
of the nearby Centre for Socially Displaced Persons.
Over the century, Nazareth House has given shelter to
hundreds of ladies who would otherwise be lonely, afraid
and destitute. Many of them sought the protection of Nazareth
House on becoming widows, or having retired from low paying
an non-pensionable jobs. They found the companionship of
their age group very comforting.
In 1999, the International Year for the Elderly, a major
refurbishing of the building was undertaken at a cost of
about one million dollars, where the roof and flooring
were replaced, beams and columns were changed from wood
to reinforced concrete among other works.
At present, there are about twelve residents living in
single rooms. There is a common T.V. room and an open-air
roof top area where they can sit and enjoy chit-chat. Three
daily meals are prepared for them at the Nazareth kitchen.