H. C. Covington @ I CAN! America (@)
Sat, 29 May 1999 18:25:06 -0500

HistoryThe Settlemnt House Movement.  The first Homeless Providers in America?

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H. C. Covington -  I CAN! America
The Rural Resource Collaborative
P.O. Drawer 3444, Lafayette, LA 70502
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Lutheran Settlement House and the Settlement House Movement

Lutheran Settlement House is one of many settlement houses in America founded at
the turn of the century (1906). At the Settlement House and beyond, Lutheran
Social Mission Society carries on the mission of its founders in providing the
professional, social and educational services that support individuals and
families in achieving their goals of self-sufficiency.

The Founding of the Settlement House Movement

The credit for the founding of the settlement house movement is given to two
Oxford University students, who in 1884 moved into the financially depressed
area of East End London and spent the night in Toynbee Hall, generally regarded
as the first Settlement House. The two men, Frederick Denison Maurice and
Charles Kingsley, both clergymen, were Christian Socialists. They felt that the
humanistic and spiritual values in the world were being dominated by materialism
and urban industrialism. Through their work at Toynbee Hall, they hoped to
effectively replace competition with cooperation.(1)

Maurice and Kingsley were soon joined by like-minded individuals. With their
help, and the help of John Ruskin, Toynbee Hall set about the business of
promoting Christian Socialism and reform. Maurice had previously founded the
Working Men's College of London in 1854 and Kingsley promoted his ideas in
articles, novels and essays. As a well known writer, critic, and social
reformer, Ruskin was perhaps the most instrumental in promoting the settlement
house movement in its infancy. His influence stretched across the Atlantic to
America. Many younger people adopted his ideas, helping the settlement house
movement to grow.(2)

Ruskin's glorification of the working man and his hatred of the industrial city
proved popular amongst many middle-class college-educated individuals. Through
his teaching at the Working Man's College, Ruskin helped to shape the direction
of the settlement house movement. The artist/poet William Morris also came under
the influence of Ruskin. "The cause of art is the cause of people," declared
Morris. Morris led the renaissance in handicrafts, a reaction against the
industrial age. A socialist, Morris felt that the industrial age had degraded
the working man. Mass production had taken all of the art out of the craftsman's
hands. Morris's work as a printer and designer is considered by many as one of
the high points in modern craft.(4)

It took only one year for the settlement house movement's ideas to make their
way across the Atlantic. The problems of urbanism and industrialism confronted
many Americans. Stanton Coit spent three months at Toynbee Hall. After his stay
in London, Coit came back to America and founded Neighborhood Guild in 1885.
Located in New York's Lower East Side, Neighborhood Guild is considered the
first settlement house in America. Coit was helped in this adventure by Charles
B. Stover and Edward King. Stover was a graduate of Union Theological Seminary
and had previously worked in the Bowery. King was an intellectual who taught
Greek and Roman history to the working class residents in the neighborhood. (5)

The settlement house idea soon spread across America. In 1891 there were only
six settlement houses in America. By 1900 the number had risen to over 100. The
most rapid development came in the cities of the midwest and the northeast
regions. Chicago became the leading center for the settlement house movement due
to the influence of Hull House, the most famous of all settlement houses.
Founded by Jane Addams and Ellen Gates Starr in 1889, Hull House influenced the
settlement house movement in America through the writings and ideas of its
reform-minded residents. Hull House led the way in advocating for social reforms
in the United States.(6)

The Founding of the Settlement House Movement in Philadelphia

Chicago, New York, Boston and Philadelphia were the cities were the settlement
house movement developed most rapidly. There were twenty-one settlement houses
in Philadelphia in 1911. College Settlement House was the most important and
influential of the Philadelphia settlement houses. Katherine B. Davis and Anna
Davies were the head residents at this time. (7)

Unlike their counterparts in Chicago, Boston, and New York, head residents of
Philadelphia's settlement houses did not write books about their work, sometimes
creating the impression that the need for settlement house services was not that
great. Quite the contrary, Philadelphia had the same problems as the other big
industrial cities. The College Settlement, founded in 1892 on St. Mary's Street,
is generally recognized as the oldest settlement house in Philadelphia. United
Neighbors however has argued that House of Industry (later to be incorporated
into United Neighbors) was founded in 1847 and should have the distinction of
the oldest settlement house. The Society of Friends operated early missions in
Philadelphia, some of which could be considered settlement houses. This argument
can be left to other historians to resolve.(8)

The College Settlement Association was organized by various graduates of Eastern
colleges in hopes to stimulate interest in the settlement movement in
Philadelphia. The founding of College Settlement was the result of this
activity. The settlement opened in the old St. Mary's street library. It soon
moved to 433 Christian street, an area of the city overcrowded with European
immigrants. In 1898 Anna Davies became head resident. Davies felt that "The
settlement in addition to its work among the people in its immediate vicinity
ought to aim at activities of a more public and general character. It should
seek to improve not only people, but conditions." Her ideas helped the
settlement house movement to grow in Philadelphia. (9)

The Lutheran Settlement House

In 1902 the first Lutheran Inner Mission Society in the United States was
organized in Philadelphia. It's mission was chiefly directed at self-education
in the theory and method of Inner Mission work. Three years later in 1905,
Luther Hospice was founded. The Hospice provided a residence for young men who
were coming to Philadelphia and who were employed at very low salaries. The
Luther Hospice remained a vital part of the community for over forty years,
closing during the post-war economic boom when the board of directors felt it
was no longer needed.

Four years after the Inner Missionary Society was fully organized, on Sunday,
January 21, 1906, the Board, with the consent of St. John's Church (6th and Race
Streets) Council, opened a settlement at 409 W. Callowhill Street, with a
handful of volunteer workers. In November of the same year, St. John's Church
called Sister Louise Wackernagle as parish deaconess. On January 3, 1907, she
took up her residence and began part-time work at the Settlement House.

On November 21, 1907, the Rev. Joseph S. Schantz became the pastor of the
Settlement and House Father of the Luther Hospice. In October, 1908, the
Settlement moved to 338 North 4th Street. In order to relieve Pastor Schantz,
the Society called the Rev. Ambrose Herring to become the Director of the
Settlement on March 17, 1910. In September, 1910 the Settlement was transferred
to two houses at 1218 and 1302 N. Front Street- one girls, the other for boys-
and Sister Louise was assigned exclusively to the Inner Mission Society and
placed in charge of the girls' house.

On June 15, 1911, the Board authorized the purchase of the property at 1333
Frankford Avenue as a permanent home for the Settlement. This section of South
Kensington was filled with mills, factories and machine shops. People lived in
poorly built tenements on narrow alleys and unsanitary courts with no provision
for children. The population consisted of people of German descent, Hungarians
and Slavs, with a group of Jewish people on the west side. At the time, the
Protestant churches were not doing much toward meeting the needs of the
neighborhood. So the Settlement used its eleven rooms for classes and clubs for
the boys and girls, daily kindergarten, mothers' meetings, and family relief

The elderly and the children of the neighborhood visited the house, and many of
the "worthy poor" and the sick were directed to the proper sources for help. A
director, a deaconess, three student men residents and twenty-six non-resident
workers made up the staff. During the year 1912, eight thousand people used the
building. In February, 1912, the total attendance was 1,436, the total
enrollment was 289. Weekly, the Settlement reached into the lives of over 300
different people.

Carner, Lucy Perkins. The Settlement Way in Philadelphia; the settlement
movement in Philadelphia, a brief history from its beginnings in the nineteenth
century to the founding of the Delaware Valley Settlement Alliance in 1963. N.p,
Davis, Alan F. Spearheads for Reform; the social settlements and the progressive
movement 1890-1914. New York, Oxford University Press 1967