Kingsley House, founded by Trinity Episcopal Church, is the oldest continuously operating settlement house, which dispenses community services, in the South.
When it opened in 1896, it was located at 928 Tchoupitoulas St., moved to 1202 Annunciation St. in 1900 and its present location 25 years later.
Kingsley House initiated summer school before the public schools did, recreation before New Orleans Recreation Department (NORD) was established and also offered classes in sewing, woodworking and printing.
NORD is a descendant of public playgrounds and sports programs pioneered by Kingsley House.
Tulane School of Social Work and Lighthouse for the Blind evolved from programs and services at Kingsley House.
In the 1920s, a print shop at Kingsley's final location produced newspapers for the settlement house and was used to teach printing classes.
Emeric Kurtagh, Kingsley head resident from 1941 to 1949, initiated social programs at the St. Thomas Housing Development as soon as it was built and developed the innovative children's recreational project called the Riverfront Extension Program.
First Lady Pat Nixon, wife of President Richard Nixon, visited Kingsley House in 1970.
Ninety percent of households served by Kingsley House programs are headed by single females.
The organization opened the city's first free kindergarten.
It merged with New Orleans Day Nursery in 1942 to expand day-care services for the poor.
Kingsley House currently has 140 children in its Head Start and 52 in its Early Head Start programs, providing 22 percent of available slots in such programs in New Orleans. It is the largest single-site provider of both programs in the city.
It was the first nonprofit in the city to receive federal funding for community service programs.
A tireless advocate for the poor, Kingsley House fought for child labor laws and improved housing conditions and health care. It helped bring yellow fever under control with a program to screen windows and cisterns to keep mosquitoes from breeding.
The center was named in honor of founding clergyman the Rev. Beverley Warner's son Kingsley, who had died at the age of 3, and Charles Kingsley, an author who strongly advocated working among the poor.
Kingsley House helped form the Anti-Tuberculosis League after canvassing the neighborhood to determine in what conditions residents were living.
Even when public swimming pools were closed to African Americans in the turbulent '50s and '60s, Kingsley House's pool remained open to everyone.
It also was the first group in the city to offer a recreation program for both white and African-American children in the same location (in the late 1940s).
Kingsley House was among the first and greatest supporters for the United Fund, which later became United Way, when it was organized in 1952.