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The Cardinal Ritter Birthplace Foundation was founded in 2004 and a board was established consisting of interested people who were brought together to try to come up with a vision of what this restored house could become and how we may proceed to raise the money to accomplish this. It was decided at this time that we wanted to do several things:

1) Save the house: The city had condemned the house and had ordered the demolition when it was saved by Historic Landmarks of Indiana during 2002 by purchasing the property. It had been pointed out by a local historian, Paul Graf, that the building had once housed Ritter’s Bakery and that Cardinal Ritter had been born in the house and spent his childhood there. We decided as an independent group that it was important to save the house and restore it as much as possible to it’s best condition ever, keeping as many of the historical touches as possible.

2) Become a community outreach center: We wanted to be able in some to way carry on the good work Cardinal Ritter had been involved with during his career. We believe that opening a neighborhood center that would house non-profit tenants that could reach out and somehow improve the lives of people in the S. Ellen Jones neighborhood, the city and the region would have been a project that Cardinal Ritter would approve of if he were on our board.

3) Tell Cardinal Ritter’s story: We decided that it was important to tell the story of how this New Albany native rose through the ranks of the Catholic Church and became the first and only person from Indiana to reach the level of Cardinal (an international bishop of the Catholic Church). He became a national leader and pioneer by being the first leader to desegregate any schools in the nation (the Catholic schools in Indianapolis and St. Louis) and also as a consultant on desegregation to public school systems when it became a federal law years later. Some of his friends at that time included Supreme Court Justice Sherman Minton (also from New Albany) and the junior Senator from Missouri, Harry Truman, who we believe later as president consulted with the Cardinal about desegregating the armed forces. Cardinal Ritter also became a true world leader in the Catholic Church with his influence in many of the significant changes made at the Vatican II conference.

4) Independent Board: As part of Cardinal Ritter’s commitment to reaching out to all faiths we decided to stay a local independent board not affiliated with any church or organization so as to keep the board and house open to all.

Dedication ceremony for the Cardinal Ritter Birthplace state historical marker on Jully 22, 2007.
In attendance (L to R) were Bishop Robert J. Hermann, auxilliary bishop of the Archdiocese of St Louis,
Virginia Lipps (niece of the late cardinal Ritter), Monsignor Nicholas A. Schneider, author of the biography
"Joseph Elmer Cardinal Ritter, His Life and Times," and Monsignor Joseph F. Schaedel, vicar general, Archdiocese of Indianapolis.



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