For more than a century, Association House of Chicago has played a significant and historic role in Chicago’s westside neighborhoods. Founded as a settlement house by Ellen Holt, a student of Jane Addams, Association House served as a landing place for new immigrants for decades. Today, Association House continues to serve thousands of families each year, through programs that promote health and wellness, advance education, and provide economic opportunity.
Browse photos from our archives and explore the timeline below to learn about our 122-year-long history.
Association House was established as a community center, eager to meet the challenges of a diverse and growing immigrant neighborhood.
Association House began to serve women and girls working in nearby factories.
Daily attendance topped 1,000, and that summer more than 4,500 showers were taken at Association House. To respond to the growing need, founders laid the cornerstone of the new and expanded Association House building at 2150 West North Avenue.
The reading room and library opened in the new building, and within two weeks 500 children had borrowed books.
Early participants included many Scandinavians, Germans, Poles, and later, Russian Jews, reflecting changes in the 1910 census. Leadership welcomed the diversity and provided a place that celebrated all cultures and religions.
With a generous estate gift from fellow founding organizer Susan Poxon, Association House opened Druce Lake Camp to provide a summer escape from the city for young girls and boys.
Leadership facilitated financial security through a new partnership with the Church Extension Board of the Presbytery of Chicago. This partnership continued into the 1980s.
The Women’s Auxiliary held its first meeting and advocated for support from Presbyterian churches and businesses.
During the depression, funds were scarce but programs continued, including dental and nutrition services, manual training, and art and music classes.