Friendly House first opened its doors in 1920 as a small three-room settlement house with a mission to promote neighborhood health and welfare, particularly for recent immigrants. From the start, Friendly House was committed to being flexible and responsive, providing services with local input and drawing employees from local neighborhoods.
Early programs included a pre-school nursery, Red Cross first aid, singing, sewing, well-baby and dental clinics, and recreation for school-aged children. In 1966, Friendly House received its first major federal grant to provide social services to 2,000 seniors, teens and families. READ MORE…
The current Friendly House building at 36 Wall Street was constructed in the early 1970’s with design input from the community. A Head Start program and a new child feeding program opened at the new site, and Friendly House became the first agency in Massachusetts to distribute USDA surplus food to families. In 1983, the agency opened an emergency shelter for homeless families at 36 Wall Street, and in 1988, opened the Frances Perkins Transitional Home at 16-18 Cottage Street.
With many programmatic changes over the past century, the settlement house principles of solidarity with and empowerment to those being served has remained core to Friendly House’s culture and approach to programs.
Gordon Hargrove lead Friendly House as its Executive Director for an extraordinary six decades, steering the organization through a myriad of social and economic changes while significantly expanding the programs and reach throughout the city of Worcester. His father, Gordon Hargrove Sr, served as the superintendent of the Ionic Avenue Boys Club of Worcester. Following this example, Gordon began volunteering with Friendly House’s youth programs in 1957, ultimately becoming Executive Director in 1969.
Focused on meeting the ‘whole’ needs of families for food, housing, employment, community, and opportunities for youth, he was an avid proponent of the Friendly House model, becoming an internationally-recognized expert on settlement houses. Mr. Hargrove has visited settlement house-style agencies from the Middle East to South America and served as a leading voice in national and international settlement house organizations. Within his hometown of Worcester, Gordon Hargrove’s impact is immeasurable. He is justly famous for his personal approach, his selfless nature and for countless acts of personal charity.
Date of Award
Open Access Dissertation
Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)
Hargrove, Gordon P., “Changing roles for a settlement house in a New England city : 1965-1990.” (1992). Doctoral Dissertations 1896 – February 2014. 4865.