Eva Lee Matthews
1862 – 1928
“A home in the cool green country. . . such an institution is Bethany Home.”
Known as “Mother Foundress Eva Mary of the Community of the Transfiguration,” Eva Lee Matthews established the Bethany Home in 1897.
Born in 1862 to Stanley Matthews and Mary Ann Black, she moved with her family to Washington, DC, when her father was elected a U.S. Senator in 1877 and then appointed by Rutherford B. Hayes to the U.S. Supreme Court. Eva entered Wellesley College in 1880.
Despite the family’s Presbyterian heritage, Eva was drawn to the Catholic faith, but opted for the Episcopal Church. In her mid-thirties, she founded the Bethany Home for Children in a West End tenement house, but in 1898, Eva purchased the Craft Wright estate on Albion Avenue in Glendale and relocated Bethany Home to this rural setting. In the same year, she founded the Order of the Transfiguration and, started the Bethany School soon after.
Over the years, the Bethany Home grew, adding dormitories and classroom buildings. In 1927, Mother Eva Mary commissioned Ralph Adams Cram, the nation’s leading ecclesiastical architect, to design an English Gothic chapel. Her nephew, Stanley Matthews, and his partner Archibald Denison served as associate architects. She died in 1928, before the cornerstone was laid, but she is buried under the altar.