About the Home
According to John F. Meginness, in his History of Lycoming County, published in 1892, “The Home for the Friendless, a philanthropic institution, was founded by the ladies of Williamsport in 1872. It affords a home for aged and infirm ladies, as well as children and infants. The building is a neat brick structure and cost $10,322.62. It has accommodations for fifty persons. The State aided it with appropriations amounting to $5,000, but it has to look largely to the liberality and charity of the citizens for maintenance. The Home is governed by a lady superintendent under the direction of a board of lady directors. It has been well managed from the beginning and has done much good.”
It was through the efforts of a small group of women representing ten churches that the Home for the Friendless, the forerunner of the Williamsport Home, was founded on November 18, 1872. It was first given the name of The Women’s Christian Association of Williamsport and was located on Pine Street in Williamsport. It soon became The Home for the Friendless and provided for “the temporal, moral, and religious welfare of homeless and friendless women and children, especially aged women.”
Elderly women had to be over 65 years of age and have no other means of support. An initial sum of money-- $500 in 1899 – was due upon acceptance and money was also requested of each to pay for future funeral expenses.
Children were admitted to the Home for the Friendless for a limited period of time. Although age guidelines changed over the years, children had to have one or no parents. The parent or guardian was to pay for board and shoes when they were able. Often the children returned to their families when their family situation stabilized.
After an extensive fund raising drive, the women were able to raise enough money to erect a new and larger building. Residents moved into their new home on Campbell Street in January, 1876. The old Home for the Friendless still stands and is in use as physicians’ offices.
In 1940, the Home for the Friendless began to phase out providing care for children and its name was changed to the Williamsport Home. When the last child left the Home, the organization—begun by ten women and with the support of the community – had cared for hundreds and hundreds of needy children over a period of almost 80 years.
In 1975, the Williamsport Home moved to its present location at 1900 Ravine Road. The Home continues to serve elderly women – and men – and continues to be managed by an all-female board of directors.