Sirotskoe or Sirotskii Dom (Orphan’s Home) is an old Russian term for a special home or centre, not unlike an orphanage, wherein orphans and others who might have been suffering misfortunes were cared for by the community in their time of need. The early Doukhobors established the first of these Orphan’s Homes in the Milky Waters village of Terpenie some 200 years ago and it may have been used in that manner. Another Orphan’s Home served a similar purpose in the Doukhobor communities of the Georgian Caucuses in the latter half of the 19th century, before it gradually developed into a social and adminsistrative centre for the Doukhobor community.
In recent times Doukhobors have used the term to describe a central site or place within their community with a somewhat broader function. Sirotskoe eventually incorporated an official residence for community leaders and an office and meeting hall or guest house where visitors, and community members with misfortunes or otherwise, might meet with the Doukhobors in a more informal setting, apart from the main administrative offices held elsewhere.
In Grand Forks, Sirotskoe was located west of Grand Forks and was well established by the early 1920’s on a hillside with a sweeping view of the beautiful Kettle River Valley. It overlooked the Christian Communities of Universal Brotherhood community complex situated immediately below. The original settlement at Sirotskoe included a two story residence for Peter V, Verigin, a beautiful assembly or meeting hall (called Sirotskii Dom) with decoratively styled wooden ornamentation, a caretaker’s home, a surrounding orchard with beehives and beekeeper’s facility, a barn for dairy cows and horses, as well as numerous other outbuildings. Most of these buildings, including the ornate meeting hall, have long since disappeared, but a modern, though more modest, official residence and office was recently constructed at this same historical site, where the USCC Honorary Chairman, the now elderly Mr. John J. Verigin and his spouse, Laura, reside.