Our History

John Emory Andrus began to fulfill his pledge to his wife, Julia Dyckman Andrus, in 1927 with the announcement of an orphanage on a 110-acre tract of land in Yonkers/Hastings.

The orphanage evolved into a school, and later into one system of care, with comprehensive behavioral health and community supports for over 9,200 children and families annually.

A Door Opens

In 1853 six-year-old Julia Bourne and her family left Switzerland to begin a new life in AmericaTheir journey was long and arduous. Julia’s father died crossing the Atlantic, and her widowed mother took the wrong ferry from New York Harbor, landing in Yonkers instead of Boston.

The Dyckmans opened their door to the family, providing the help they needed to regain strength and heal. When Julia’s mother and sibling decided to move to Boston, the childless couple invited young Julia to stay. She became part of the Dyckman family, and she thrived.

In 1869 Julia married John Andrus, the bold and ambitious son of a Methodist minister. They raised eight children together, while his shrewd investments in real estate and timber made John Andrus one of the ten richest men in the country.

Andrus opened its doors in 1928 thanks to the generosity of John Emory Andrus, who envisioned a sanctuary for orphaned children as a tribute to his late wife, Julia Bourne Dyckman Andrus.

Creating A Legacy

When Julia died, John Andrus fulfilled a promise he had made to her. He transformed Julia’s childhood home on the quiet slopes of the Dyckman family farm into a sanctuary for orphaned children.

Supported entirely by the family’s Surdna Foundation, Andrus transformed lives for over sixty years, giving orphaned children the safety and opportunity Julia once found with the Dyckmans.

historic, sepia-toned photo of the old orchard school location on the andrus campus

An Andrus-sponsored study of foster children in the 1970’s inspired the launch of The Orchard School, which added academics, and clinical services for children with special needs, to the residential program.

Over the next two decades, a growing understanding of mental health issues in children shifted the focus at Andrus to those diagnosed with Severe Emotional Disturbance (SED).

Building On A Promise

Grounded in the values and vision of John Andrus, the Andrus board of directors actively pursued and supported the development of new ideas and approaches to helping children in need. An Andrus-sponsored study of foster children in the 1970’s inspired the launch of the Orchard School, which added academics, and clinical services for children with special needs, to the residential program.

Over the next two decades, a growing understanding of mental health issues in children shifted the focus at Andrus to those diagnosed with Severe Emotional Disturbance (SED).

Vintage photo of a bus infront of a building on the andrus campus

Expanding Our Reach

As our knowledge and commitment grew, so did our reach. Andrus joined with like-minded organizations to open new doors for children and families to mental health clinics, childcare services and community-based programs across Westchester County. To fund its continuing expansion, Andrus grew its base of support beyond the Surdna Foundation, winning grants and attracting generous donations from institutions and individuals who saw the impact Andrus was making. Andrus hit a turning point when Dr. Sandra Bloom brought her Sanctuary Model(SM) to Andrus. The Sanctuary framework helped us better understand our clients and how trauma influences behavior for both individuals and organizations. We were so empowered by the Sanctuary Model(SM) that we partnered with Dr. Bloom to bring this transformative approach to other human service organizations through the Sanctuary Institute™.

Andrus Today

More than 95 years after John Andrus founded an orphanage, Andrus now opens its doors to over 5,000 children and families every year. Our mental health and community-based services reach families from across the New York metropolitan area and the Andrus Center for Learning and Innovation extends our reach to social welfare organizations from Albany to Australia. Little Julia’s story of strength and resilience continues to inspire the leadership, faculty and staff at Andrus to develop and deliver innovative programs that will give vulnerable children and families the stability, security, support and hope that opens the door to their limitless future.
andrus team gathers in front of the garden center
children recreating playing in colored tshirts on gymnasium floor