Introduction: Hartley House was opened by the New York Association for Improving the Condition of the Poor (AICP) on January 1, 1897, and was incorporated as an independent organization in 1903. Establishment of Hartley House was the result of a gradually increasing feeling among managers of the Association that “…if the homes of the poor could be made more comfortable and attractive, and the home lives more sufficient, there would be less cause for family dissensions and dissolution, less seeking of the saloons by the men, less misery and wretchedness for the women, more happiness in the tenement districts, and less evil in the community.”
According to the Association, Hartley House was to be a small “homemaking” school, where poor girls could be taught to make and keep a home neat, tidy, and attractive, not for their own good merely, but for the good also of their families and husbands, brothers, and friends. It was also the intention of the founders to bring the upper classes into the settlement to contribute volunteer work which, it was believed, would benefit both the poor and the wealthy.
Hartley House was open first at No. 413 West 46th Street. The property, consisting of a four story building and a four story rear house, was first rented by the Association and later purchased and presented to it by Mr. Marcellus Hartley. The House was named in memory of Mr. Hartley’s father,- Mr. Robert M. Hartley, one of most progressive and constructive of New York’s early philanthropist. Miss Helen F. Greene was in charge as head worker, with Miss Helen M. Hall as assistant. The ground floor of the building was used for the kitchen and the office; the first floor for the library and dining room; the second floor for cooking school and the top floor resident. In the rear building were a kitchen and a workroom for women who worked by the day; a gymnasium; and storeroom.
Soon No. 413 was found to be too small for the work that was being carried on, and in the summer of 1897 No. 411 was purchased by Mr. Hartley. The ground floor of this house was used for boys’ clubs; the first floor for the A. B. C. Kindergarten; the second floor for the Emma Hartley Stokes Kindergarten; and the top floor for living rooms.
An equipment for a printing class was presented to the House by Mr. J. G. Phelps Stokes in the latter part of 1897. The printing shop occupied a part of the third floor of the building in the rear of No. 413. The first issue of the Hartley House News was published by the printing class of February 12th, 1898.
During the summer of 1898 No. 409 was purchased Mr. Hartley. There were in this building the Young Men’s Club rooms; the Assembly Hall; a room for the cooking class and rooms for the residents.
Again through the generosity of Mr. Hartley, work on the new gymnasium was begun in the early part of January, 1899. The gymnasium, which was built on the roofs on the three buildings was opened for use in April of that year.
Nos. 412 and 414 West 47th Street were added to the House in October, 1907, being presented by Mrs. Helen Hartley Jenkins and Mr. Marcellus Hartley Dodge. These two houses are directly in the rear of the 46th Street houses, and the House property now runs through from 46th to 47th Streets. The ground floors contain a club room and the nurse’s office; the first floors, a kindergarten; the two upper floors are for residents.
Hartley House was incorporated in April, 1903. It has since been a separate organization, not under the control of the New York Association for Improving the Condition of the Poor, but managed by a Board of Trustees.
Each summer, for the time the House was started until 1904, Mr. John Sherman Hoyt donated the use of his house and grounds at Pawling, New York, where parties of children spent a two weeks’ vacation. Since 1904 children and mothers have spent their summer vacation at Convent, New Jersey, on a farm belonging to Mrs. Jenkins and Mr. Dodge. In order to provide a vacation house for the older girls, Mrs. Jenkins purchased and presented to the House a cottage at Talmadge Hill, Connecticut, early in 1910.
Hartley House today consists of six buildings, providing accommodations for clubs for men and women, boys and girls, various kinds of classes (cooking, millinery, gymnastic, printing, carpentry, dressmaking, English, French, handwork, sewing, drawing, stenography, dancing and kindergarten), Penny Provident Bank and circulating library.
Source: Hartley House Records. University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, Social Welfare History Archives. Minneapolis, MN: https://www.lib.umn.edu/swha
Ed. Note: The following portion of the entry is copied from the HANDBOOK OF SETTLEMENTS a national survey of settlements published in 1911 by The Russell Sage Foundation of New York. This collection of detailed information about settlements operating circa 1910 was collected, organized and written by two settlement pioneers: Robert Archey Woods and Albert J. Kennedy.
409 (1898),411-413 (1897) West Forty-sixth Street, 412-414 West Forty-seventh Street (1908). Summer Home, Hartley House Farm (1904), Convent, Morris County, N. J. Weeburn Farm (1910), Talmage Hill, Conn. Established January, 1897, under the auspices of the New York Association for Improving the Condition of the Poor, “to create a small home-keeping school where poor girls could be taught how to keep a home neat, tidy and attractive … to open workrooms for unskilled women . . . and to combine with such twofold work all the neighborly, friendly features of a college settlement.” (First Report.)
“The immediate aim of the settlement is to help prepare children and young people for lives of useful social citizenship, and to help them as they grow older to render useful social service and to find happiness in unselfish social lives.” (1903)
“To conduct neighborhood clubs and classes for social and educational purposes; to provide opportunities for recreation; to aid in the study of social and industrial problems; to furnish, in reports and otherwise, such information and statement as may tend to promote the wider understanding of social conditions and social responsibilities or may tend to promote social justice; to aid in the development of good citizenship; to provide places of residence for men and women desirous of engaging in social work.” (1905.) Incorporated April 21, 1903.
Neighborhood. The middle West Side, in an increasingly densely populated section. The people are largely Americans, Irish, Germans, and Italians.
Activities. Several intensive studies of its district. Works through its neighbors and other agencies for the physical betterment of the section, the larger use of school playgrounds, etc. Conducted for several years a relief station and employment bureau for the Association for Improving the Condition of the Poor. At the time of the industrial depression of 1907-8, started its “Ship-shape Shop,” which served the double purpose of training in sewing, mending, etc., and in providing work for those needing it. Had one of the first “Home and School” visitors (1907), a resident, who gave full time to the work, and who was influential in organizing the work of the Home and School visitors of the city.
Maintains kindergarten; penny provident bank; club organ Hartley House News; gymnasium and baths; classes in cooking, sewing, carpentry, printing, stenography, nursing, shirtwaist making, millinery, hand work, pottery, drawing, English and literature; clubs for girls and boys of all ages beginning with kindergarten children; two clubs for women; dramatic work with children, and older boys and girls; debating, and Hartley House Inter-club Debating League. Summer Work.—Playground; yard concerts in the evening; day excursions; vacations in co-operation with Fresh Air agencies; Hartley Farm at Convent, N. J., for mothers and children under sixteen years of age, and Weeburn Farm, Talmage Hill, Conn., for working girls over sixteen.
Residents. Women 14. Volunteers. Women 30, men 6. Head Res1dents. Helen French Green, Jan., 1897-Sept., 1905; May Mathews, Sept., 1905-.
Literature. I. Authorized Statements. Reports, 1897, 1898, 1900, 1901, 1902’— Articles in Hartley House News, i, No. 1, 1898, and Reports of the Association for Improving the Condition of the Poor — Stokes, J. G. Phelps: Hartley House and Its Relation to the Social Reform Movement. (Pamphlet.) 1897. Address the settlement. See also: Hartley House. New York Times, June 27, 1897 — Hartley House. Char. Rev., vi : 380 (June, 1897) — Kingsbury, Mary A.: Women in New York Settlements (Hartley House). Munic. Affairs, ii : 458-462 (Sept., 1898) — Hartley House. Bureau of Labor Statistics State of New York. Eighteenth Annual Report, 19oo. Part II : 376385 — Pratt, Caroline L.: Carpentry at Hartley House. Commons, vii, No. 71 (June, 1902) — Hartley House Incorporated. Commons, Aug., 1903. II. Art1cles And Social Studies By Residents. Pierce, Ella A.: The Hartley House Cook Book. Commons, May, 1902. New Edition of Hartley House Cook Book, Oct., 1910 — Stevens, George A.: Hartley House. Bureau of Labor Statistics State of New York. Eighteenth Annual Report, 19oo — Stokes, J. G. Phelps: Hartley House and its Relation to the Social Reform Movement. 1897 (Out of print). On the Relation of the Settlement Movement to the Evils of Poverty. Proceedings of the First New York State Conference of Charities and Corrections, 1900. Public Schools as Social Centers. Ann. Amer. Acad, of Pol. and Soc. Set., May, 1904. Ye Have the Poor Always With You. Independent, Sept. 9, 1904.