Story of Jane Holmes

Copyright ©, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 2017, all rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.

Copyright ©, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 2017, all rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.

Jane Holmes was a woman before her time.

Born in Ireland in 1805, Jane and her family relocated to the Pittsburgh area when Jane was only 2.

At the time, Pittsburgh was a different place — a small town with few houses, mostly unpaved streets, and an air thick with the haze of burning coal fires.

It was here that Jane’s father started a grocery store – one that grew into a successful business, amassing significant wealth for the family. And with the financial success the Holmes family attained, Jane grew into something of an early philanthropist.

Known for her compassion and generosity, Jane spent much of her life helping the less fortunate. In the home she shared with her siblings near the intersection of Penn Avenue and Stanwix Street, Jane was frequently visited by the city’s suffering and poor.

One such visit was made by a little girl who was dying from tuberculosis. With no family and no place to turn, the child looked to Jane for help. Touched by the little girl’s story, Jane arranged for the child’s care until the day the child died.

Determined to make a difference in the lives of those facing serious illness, Jane converted her family’s summer home on Butler Street in Lawrenceville into the Protestant Home for Incurables, later known as Holmes House.

Jane championed many other causes throughout her life, and even after her death in 1885, Jane’s story of generosity continued.

In her bequest, Jane left funding for various Pittsburgh organizations, including funds to establish a hospital to provide medical care for all children in need, no matter their circumstances. This bequest spurred the creation of the Pittsburgh Hospital for Children — what is now Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.

Today, more than 130 years after her death, Jane’s story of giving lives on in a hospital that continues to care for every child in need regardless of a family’s ability to pay. It seems only fitting, then, that our planned giving society should be named for a woman with such compassion and foresight.

Thank you for being a part of a tradition of caring more than a century and a quarter in the making. We are honored to share in your legacy.

For more information on planned giving, visit