Lawrence Hall dates its founding to just after the American Civil War, when orphaned Chicago children struggled to survive.

Lawrence Hall's Early Years: Foundational Organizations


The Erring Women’s Refuge for Reform incorporates to provide a safe home for young women who flocked to Chicago in search of factory and domestic work. This organization eventually changes its name to the Chicago Home for Girls in 1914.


Martin Van Arsdale, a theology student, founds the Newsboys’ and Bootblacks’ Mission and creates two dormitories to house and feed 40 boys. Its location on Quincy Street was lost in the Great Chicago Fire, but the organization rebuilt on South Wabash. The organization later changes its name to the Newsboys’ and Bootblacks’ Association.


Creation of Chicago Home for Boys, associated with the Episcopal Church.


By 1909, the Chicago Home for Boys and Newsboys’ and Bootblacks’ Association shares some activities and leadership. Francis A. Hardy, one of the shared directors of the Newsboys’ and Bootblacks’ Association, purchases land at Lawrence and Francisco and donates five acres of it to build a new home for the Newsboys’ and Bootblacks’ Association.

Becoming Lawrence Hall: The Move to Lawrence and Francisco


The new home is built on the land at Lawrence and Francisco. The Chicago Home for Boys moves to the new location with the Newsboys’ and Bootblacks’ Association in 1914, and the home’s name changes to “Lawrence Hall: A Home for Boys.” About 100 boys are in the home by 1917.


Chicago Judge Mary Bartelme, one of the founders of the Cook County Juvenile Court, opens the first two group homes for girls as an alternative to jail. The homes are called the Mary Clubs and are later renamed the Mary Bartelme Club.


The Great Depression increases the role of the government in child welfare, and the child welfare field becomes more professionalized.


The Chicago Home for Girls merges with the Mary Bartelme Club, creating “Mary Bartelme Homes and Services.”


Initially serving 4,000 children, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services is created. This agency would later fund some of Lawrence Hall’s programs.


Lawrence Hall opens a private, on-campus special education school for residents which, in 2004, becomes part of Chicago Public Schools’ Cluster Private Schools Initiative serving CPS students with emotional, behavioral, and learning disabilities.


Lawrence Hall merges with Mary Bartelme Homes and Services, becoming Lawrence Hall Youth Services.

From Youth Services to Community-Based Organization


Our new Child and Family Treatment Center opens, providing residential care in one setting.


On the move! Our Foster Care’s central offices move to the Auburn Gresham community, which is closer to a number of the agency’s foster homes throughout the South Side, while our workforce development programs find a new office in South Shore.


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