The Girls Industrial Home aka Lucy Orme Morgan Home
In August of 1889, a group of women decided that a home for wayward women was needed in Bloomington so that the women might be educated so that they could be gainfully employed in respectable work. That work lasted about six years, until 1895 when the home was filled with more children than women and the decision was made to maintain the home for girls who had lost their parents or who were otherwise dependent on the public.
The home's first location was on Market Street, later Phoenix Avenue and then 1122 E. Grove Street. In 1899 the board managed to buy the property between State and McClun and Taylor and Jackson Streets, where the home remains.
The buttons to the right link to documents listing each girl whose name appeared in the census or Pantagraph as being a resident of the Home. These are very large spreadsheets and not very easily navigated on a small screen like a cellphone. I am putting these names here so that people can locate their family members who may have lived at the home. After you click on the button, the document will download to your computer. Other buttons link to stories of specific girls or families.
At times boys did live in the home, but in 1919 the Victory Hall was created for boys and there was no need to house boys in the GIH. In the years covered by this website - 1887 - 1950 - the home never admitted Black children. The Home was combined with the Booker T. Washington Home for Colored Children in 1969 and the home was fully integrated and thereafter called the Morgan- Washington Home. The Home was integrated with Victory Hall, the boys' orphanage in 1988 and became The Children's Foundation, and in 2002 the organization became the Children's Home + Aid and the location was not longer simply an orphanage. Children's Home + Aid seeks to strengthen families where possible and provide shelter and education for children.
Children came to the home in various ways. Sometimes the girls were actually orphaned, but more often, they had lost only one parent, or their parents had divorced. No matter which parent had custody of the children, unless the parents were wealthy enough to hire live in help, many couples sent their children to a home where they could be cared for. There were no pre schools where your child could spend their time while you were working, and besides, if the husband was left with the children, how would he feed them? After working all day no man wanted to come home and cook a full meal and probably did not have the skill to do so. Women could not earn enough money to maintain a family home.
I would point out one illustrative story: Grace Waller was widowed by the "Spanish" Flu in 1918 with four very young children. Grace was somehow able to become a trained nurse after her husband's death and even had advanced training in anesthesiology. After her husband died her children were scattered among relatives, but her three daughters were finally united at the Girls Industrial Home while Grace was head nurse at the Fairview Sanitarium. Perhaps it was not unusual at that time for a well educated woman to be so poorly paid that she could not make a home for her children, it was after all, the beginning of the Depression. But if a well educated nurse could not support her children, what hope did a woman with a high school education have? Her only hope was to remarry, but even that was no guarantee of making a home for those children.
"Delinquent" girls were not admitted to the home. Every effort was made to make the home a place for reputable girls. Some girls were sent out to work as housemaids. In the early years they were actually indentured, or bound to families.
In 1929 the name of the home was changed to the Lucy Orme Morgan Home in honor of the woman who had been president of the board for 24 years. It was said that she visited the home nearly every day.
On the grounds of the Home were several buildings, including the large dormitory building designed by Arthur Pillsbury in 1916. (Pantagraph photo from 1950) A small hospital with ten beds was available when the girls had a contagious illness.
Exterior of Hospital
Hospital interior and two board members.
The grounds also had a small farm with cows and chickens that provided milk and eggs for the home. The girls attended school at Washington Grade School for the most part, but some girls went to Edwards School. The girls attended churches of their own faith and many attended church at Centennial Christian Church, which was very nearby.
On the grounds was a swimming pool for the girls from about 1925, which was built in memory of Mattie Marble, a woman who was on the board of the Home. Near the pool was a small fish pond.
The girls were expected to work in the home and learn essential life skills.