|211 Minor St, Chattanooga, TN 37405|
It's not just a thrift store, it's a community builder. These people help changes lives for the better.
In 1923 Mrs. Rose Longgley and Mrs. Emily Page Schlessinger walked down Frazier Avenue each day to go to the Post Office. They saw the families living along the river in shacks. When they asked the women what they might do to help, they said they needed warm bedding. About the same time, Mrs. Schlessinger presented a paper to the North Chattanooga Book Club about the conditions that she had found when she visited prisons and reform schools. She had come to the conclusion that children should be kept busy and taught to be useful.
Mrs. Longgley and Mrs. Schlessinger felt that they could help with these problems and thus with nine or their friends formed the North Chattanooga Community Center on the premise that people in need must learn to help themselves. The ladies met in the home of Mrs. Sam Strauss and five of them signed the charter in December, 1923 which became official on February 14, 1924. The North Chattanooga Book Club gave $100.00, the Junior League gave $300.00 and Mrs. Longgley went door to door for other contributions.
The first home of the North Chattanooga Community Center was 1 Frazier Avenue in a building that had housed a broom factory. There had been a fire and the stove had burned a hole and fallen through the floor. Mrs. Longgley had a piece of zinc placed over the hole and they began to use the building.
The first director for the center was Mrs. W. H. Delaney and the assistant was Mrs. M. A. Parks. In 1925 as the center grew, they needed more space and moved across the street to 2 Frazier Avenue.
Several of the charter members of the center taught the neighborhood women to make quilts but also the center was there to be “An adjustment bureau for all types of human problems.” Some of the needs that were addressed were helping the sick, patching marital riffs, providing kindergarten and teaching sewing.
The center was moved to 530 North Market Street in 1931 and was able to serve more people and offer more programs. Mrs. Rose Longgley became the director in 1937 and continued in that capacity for thirty-six years. The mothers club continued to make quilts, some were made “for hire” and the money used for the projects of the center.
The Northside Neighborhood House became the name of the North Chattanooga Community Center in 1950 because of some confusion about the similar names of the community center on Manning Street and a black Community Center. When Mrs. Longgley retired in 1973, the name was changed to Rose S. Longgley Northside Neighborhood House, but in the 1980′s the board changed it back to the Northside Neighborhood House because of the length of the name.
A portrait of Mrs. Longgley and a plaque honoring Mrs. Schlessinger hang in the lobby of the Northside Neighborhood House. Over ninety years later, the Northside Neighborhood House continues to offer a hand up, not a hand out to those in need living north of the river.