Central Community House was created as part of the settlement house movement that brought social services to dwell in underserved neighborhoods to address a specific community’s barriers and utilize its unique assets. In this way the community members created a hub where they could give and receive help, quickly and efficiently responding to the most pressing needs of their own area at any given time. In 1935 the idea for CCH was born out of the efforts of many concerned citizens led by Dr. Roy Burkhart of First Community Church, and Judge Mahaffey and other members of the Juvenile Justice System. The organization launched as a not-for-profit in 1936 “for the promotion of general welfare of the community and the social well-being of its citizens.”
Programs were enacted to serve all age groups and, rather than simply address one problem or social condition, to nurture ongoing relationships and exist to holistically impact children, their families and the neighborhood. Healthy children can only exist within strong families; families can only succeed when surrounded by safe, supportive neighborhoods. An early education Child Care Center began operations in 1969 and today can serve up to 72 infants, toddler and preschoolers.
Central Community House first resided at 333 East Mound Street and then 931 Bryden Rd. before finding a home at 1251 Bryden Road from 1965 to 2005. Through a City of Columbus partnership and with capital campaign support from numerous donors, corporations and foundations, a new building was built at the current home of 1150 E. Main St. opening in spring 2005. Central is renovating its facility at 1251 Bryden Rd. to use as a satellite campus called the Walter and Marian English Center for Art and Community.
The Settlement House Philosophy
The settlement house concept was born in England in the mid-19th century, spreading to the United States by the 1880s. This approach to social reform involved educated and well-off volunteers living in residences among the urban poor so that the two social classes could share knowledge and resources, and promote neighborly cooperation. They served as meeting places and enclaves of education, art and culture. Often, residents and workers of the settlement houses advocated for low-class workers and lobby for improved conditions for laborers. In the U.S., settlement houses often became centers where the various waves of immigrants could find resources to acclimate to their new country. At a time when women were expected to remain in the home, settlement houses also served as an acceptable place for women to live and work, giving rise to early feminism. With focused efforts to find solutions to poverty and injustice, settlement houses helped to develop the practice of social work as it is known today. While, settlement house workers no longer live onsite and many have changed their names to “community centers” or “neighborhood houses,” the community-based and holistic approach to improving the lives of those in need remain a hallmark of settlement houses today.