Along the road east of the Avenue, across the ravine from the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes, a rock marks the site of the first Providence Convent. The marker reads: “Site of first Providence Convent, founded October 22, 1840, by Mother Theodore Guerin.”
This temporary convent was actually the home of Sarah and Joseph Thralls. It was described by Sister Mary Borromeo Brown in the “History of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods” in this way: “The house was a solid, but primitive frame construction consisting of two rooms with a porch below and a loft used to store corn above. One of the two rooms downstairs and half the loft above were kindly offered for the Sisters’ use, the Thralls family retaining the other half of the house.”
For more than a month, 10 members of the Thralls family, Mother Theodore and her five French companions and four American postulants lived together in the frame house.
In late November 1840, the Diocese of Vincennes purchased the Thralls home and land. The purchase included 55 acres, the Thralls’ home, some animals and farm equipment for $1,800. The 55 acres of land cost $1,375 or $25 per acre. When Joseph Thralls purchased some of that acreage in 1835, it cost him approximately $6 per acre.