For 129 years, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Hudson County has been in the forefront of youth development, working with young people from disadvantaged economic, social and family circumstances. The Boys & Girls Clubs of Hudson County has actively sought to enrich the lives of girls and boys whom other youth agencies fail to reach.
The Boys & Girls Clubs of Hudson County traces its history back to 1893 and the founding of the Whittier House Social Settlement in Jersey City, the first settlement house in New Jersey. Founded by Cornelia Foster Bradford, who would remain with the organization as headworker until 1926, Whittier House, named for Cornelia Bradford’s friend John Greenleaf Whittier, was located at 174 Grand Street.
Whittier House programs included the city’s first free kindergarten, a circulating library, a medical dispensary, a milk dispensary, and a diet kitchen for mothers and babies. Community recreation needs were filled by the only public playground in the city, a gymnasium, and a summer camp at Pomona, New York. Among the clubs and classes offered were sewing, cooking, drama, music, debating, English, elocution, and dance, as well as social clubs for mothers (the first woman’s group in the city), newsboys and young citizens. Whittier House also sponsored baseball clubs, a minstrel troupe, and classes in stenography and telegraphy.
Financial difficulties led to a takeover by the Boys’ Club of Jersey City in 1935. Club activities were continued for both boys and girls, often with the assistance of the Works Progress Administration. The Whittier House name was officially changed to the Whittier House Boys’ Club in 1940, where the Jersey City Boys’ Club maintained residence until the building at 174 Grand Street burned down in 1981.
The Jersey City Boys Club, Whittier House, and the Paul Revere Boys Club (founded by Enos Jones in the 1930’s) merged in the 1980’s. The Club found a new home in a renovated coal bunker on Canal Street in 1984 and simultaneously opening the Hoboken Clubhouse. In 1991, the Club officially became the Boys & Girls Clubs of Hudson County, giving girls equal membership.