Plymouth Settlement House (Louisville, KY)
The 1890s marked the beginning of the Settlement House Movement in the United States, but for African Americans the movement began at the turn of the century with the Frederick Douglass Center in Chicago in 1904.
More than a decade later the Plymouth Settlement House in Louisville, KY became a part of the movement. The building was located at 1624-26 W. Chestnut Street, next door to the Plymouth Congregational Church. It had taken the church pastor, Reverend Everett G. Harris, six years to raise funding for the Settlement House.
The three-story structure included an auditorium, assembly room, classrooms, kitchen, and 14-room dormitory and parlor for the young women who lived on the third floor. The women were considered "decent" and were selected renters who had come to the city seeking employment. Their weekly room charge was $1.75. The dormitory was accessible from a separate entrance on the side of the building. There was an employment service in the Settlement House that placed the women in homes as domestic helpers.
In 1919, the Settlement House became part of the Louisville Welfare League. The center offered classes that prepared young women for domestic service, marriage, and motherhood. It also included a day care for children, a Boy Scout program, and a community Sunday School.
As a part of the Welfare League, the Plymouth Settlement House no longer came under the direction of the church, so a new governing board was established. Rev. Harris, a Howard University graduate from Virginia, remained superintendent of the Settlement House and pastor of the Plymouth Congregational Church.
For more see Everett G. Harris in the Encyclopedia of Louisville, ed. by J. E. Kleber; G. D. Berry, Jr., "The Settlement House Movement and the Black Community in the Progressive Era: the example of Plymouth Settlement, Louisville, Kentucky," Journal of the American Studies Association of Texas, vol. 21 (1990), pp. 24-32; and Plymouth Settlement House and the Development of Black Louisville,1900-1930 [dissertation], by B. D. Berry.