100 Years of Bonnie Brae
- Bonnie Brae was founded by Judge Harry Osborne in 1916. Judge Osborne questioned the effectiveness of locking up teen boys. He believed that creating a safe haven for young men to overcome personal and family challenges would help them in building new futures and becoming good citizens. He purchased a small working farm, named Bonnie Brae, to house 14 young boys.
- On April 6, 1918 at the Robert Treat Hotel in Newark, $10,000 was raised in one day for the Bonnie Brae Farm.
- In 1921, more boys were being referred to Bonnie Brae for help, Judge Osborne needed more space, so he purchased a larger farm in Bernards Township, NJ.
- The Bonnie Brae logo used to be the Piper, which signified Peter Pan and his never-ending childhood having adventures
- One of the first key fundraising events was the annual Bridge Party, which began in 1923. Each year, the party used a different theme. The Bonnie Brae boys would act as waiters and park cars.
- The Bonnie Brae bus took students to a local school, roller skating, to the shore and to other fun excursions.
- At the Bonnie Brae Farm, every boy had a job taking care of the animals. Many alumni have fond memories of collecting eggs, milking cows, feeding the animals, and picking fruits and vegetables.
- The 1970’s marked an era of rapid change at Bonnie Brae as funding shifted from largely private to largely public; the “farm” was now a “residential treatment center” and was equipped with a fully accredited school. Bonnie Brae treated and cared for boys in-residence as well as provided an Outpatient Treatment Center for youth. Experienced professionals including licensed clinical social workers, medical professionals and teachers now worked together as a team to treat each young man’s individual needs.
- As the years passed, the farm animals and crops disappeared, but the mission remained. Present day Bonnie Brae has the charm of its past, yet offers state-of-the-art facilities where students can learn and work towards becoming more productive members of society.
- In 2005, Bonnie Brae’s first transitional living home opened in New Brunswick. Its purpose is to provide young men with exposure to and practice with the life and job skills they will need to live as independent adults.
- In 2009, the Bonnie Brae Knights marched at President Obama’s inauguration day in Washington D.C.
- Bonnie Brae’s State of the Art LEED Silver certified cottages were renovated in 2012.
- In April of 2013, the Van Houten House, Bonnie Brae’s second community based transitional living home, opened in Bound Brook.
- In March of 2015, Bonnie Brae was awarded the first contract by the State of New Jersey to open a community based transitional living home for young men ages 18-21. Bonnie Brae’s Brozowski Liberty House has allowed us to expand our continuum of care.
- Bonnie Brae has helped changed the lives of over 10,000 boys and families in our 100 year history.