The Settlement House Tradition
From their earliest days, settlements offered a mix of direct services and community advocacy. Education and recreation, camping, job skills training, preventive health care, cultural enrichment, licensing and operation of lodging houses, and a host of other services were offered, side-by-side with organizing, to improve municipal services and housing conditions. Throughout the 20th century, settlement houses evolved as safe, accessible spaces where neighbors from all walks of life could come together for recreational, cultural, and educational activities as well as to create economic opportunities and support each other in times of need.
The Early Years
Originally founded as South End House in 1891, United South End Settlements was the first settlement house in Boston and the fourth in the United States. By establishing settlement houses, USES assisted people in every aspect of life, including housing, public health, sanitation, day care and medical care for children. They set up summer camps and playgrounds, launched free concerts, art exhibitions, and reading & drama clubs among the community. They also provided job training to men and women, helping families build new lives.
1891 - The first settlement house was built in Boston and the fourth in the United States. Originally named Andover House, four years later it was renamed as the South End House.
1900 - Camp Hale was established. Located on the shores of Squam Lake, New Hampshire, Camp Hale allows young men the chance to explore nature while developing positive behaviors and leadership skills to last a lifetime.
1918 - Incorporated in 1914 in collaboration with the Museum of Fine Arts, the Children's Art Centre was the first public fine arts museum designed exclusively for children.
1960 - Five organizations merged to form United South End Settlements.
1976 - The Harriet Tubman House was built at the corner of Massachusetts Avenue and Columbus Avenue, relocated from its previous location in the South End.
1981 - Senior Home Repair program piloted. This program helps assist senior citizens with minor, major and emergency repairs.
1989 - Boston’s first community computer center opened as part of the community technology movement.
1998 - Timothy Smith computer learning center opened, offering skill training classes for the unemployed/underemployed.
2012 - The wall of the Children’s Art Centre was rebuilt, thanks to the support of the George B. Henderson Foundation.