Villa Maria was founded by the Sisters of the Good Shepherd in 1904 as a haven for destitute young women. Many girls came here seeking shelter from negligent or abusive families; in later years some were referred by social service agencies. Villa Maria's mission was not only to educate, but also to teach self-discipline and offer the women a new start. Residents learned a variety of skills so they could become independent. The home was first located on Bridge Street and moved to the present site in 1904. In 1985 it became a retirement center.