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Photo 2014
Home for Destitute Jewish Children
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 Chapter Six of The Synagogues of Dorchester by Richard Heath. September, 2004.

Richard Heath has supplied recent photographs from June 2014. The building has recently been nominated for a National Register listing.

Photo2 2014
Home for Destitute Children
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 Another photo by Richard Heath, June, 2014.

Home for Destitute Jewish Children
150 American Legion Highway
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 Chapter Six of The Synagogues of Dorchester by Richard Heath. September, 2004.

150 American Legion Highway (originally Canterbury Street)

Home for Destitute Jewish Children

Built 1910 and dedicated October 29, 1911.

John Hasty, architect.

Built by Ladies Helping Hand for Jewish Children


- Building permit.

- Jewish Advocate, July 28, 1905, p. 3. Story about Ladies Helping Hand Home. Established in 1899. Home at Beechglen and Fort Avenue, Rosbury. Photograph of building and story about the Home.

- Boston Advocate, Oct. 23, 1906. New temporary home for 200 children. Story and drawing of building. John A. Hasty, architect. 80,000 square foot lot.

- Boston Herald, Jan. 31, 1909, p. 8. "Charity ball Tuesday night to benefit Helping Hand Temporary Home. Present home on Beechglen Street, Roxbury too small. Land bought on Canterbury Street." Illustration of new building.

- George Wiener held mortgage on the land. Nov. 29, 1907, Document 3420 in Suffolk County district of the Land Court. Home for Jewish Children took title March 7, 1910. Land Court certificate 2854, Book 10, page 154.

- Boston Sunday Herald, April 18, 1909, p. 7. Benefit announced to help build home for Jewish children. "First institutional structure to be built by Jewish population in Boston." Description of building. Line drawing.

- Boston Herald, March 16, 1910, p. 10. "Plans by John A. Hasty of 46 Cornhill in hands of contractors. Ready to break ground." Line drawing.

- American Architect. March 23, 1910, p. 8. "Architect John A. Hasty has prepared plans for Home for Destitute Children."

- Jewish Advocate, Oct. 6, 1911. Home completed Oct. 4, 1911.

- Jewish Advocate, Nov. 3, 1911. Home dedicated Oct. 29, 1911.

- Jewish Advocate, Aug. 29, 1913. Front page. First Boy Scout troop at Jewish Home. Hike to Blue Hills. Photograph of boys in uniform.

- Jewish Advocate, July 24, 1919, p. 2. "Five years of achievements at Jewish Home for Children." Photographs of building and staff.

- Jewish Advocate, April 22, 1920, p. 6. Photograph of youngsters at dining hall tables for Passover.

- Jewish Advocate, Jan. 12, 1922, p. 12-13. Long photograph at bottom of the page of children and staff at the side of building.

- Jewish Advocate, Feb. 14, 1929, p. 4. "A peek behind the doors of the Home for Jewish Children. Photograph of children and interiors.

- Jewish Advocate, Oct. 5, 1934. Front page/ Oct. 9, 1934 Front page/ Oct. 12, 1934, p. 5. Ladies Helping Hand for Jewish Children moved to 35 Chestnut Hill Avenue, Brighton. New home dedicated Oct. 7, 1934.

- Jewish Advocate, Jan. 7, 1965, Section 2, p. 9. "After more than 60 years of service, Ladies Helping Hand for Jewish Children changed to Ledgewood Home for Jewish Children. 1000 Harvard Street, Mattapan. 22 acre treatment and residential center for boys aged 12-18. Photograph of older building.

- Jewish Advocate, Jan 17, 1936. Front page and p. 2. Hecht Neighborhood House moves from West End into former Home for Jewish Children. Dedicated Jan. 19, 1936. Extensive remodeling. New Entrance thorugh new playground from Lorne Street added.

- Jewish Advocate, Apr. 5, 1940. Front page. Hecht Neighborhood House celebrates its jubilee. Founded in 1890 on Hanover Street by Mrs. Jacob (Lina) H. Hecht as Hebrew Industrial School for Girls to serve Russian Jews arriving in the North End.

- Jewish Advocate, Sept. 10, 1959. Front page and p. 4. Cornerstone laying ceremony for new gymnasium named for Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy. Sept. 20, 1959. Hecht House and Young Men's Hebrew Association (YMHA) recently merged. YMHA moved out os Seaver Street & Humboldt Avenue building.

- Jewish Advocate, Sept. 24, 1959, p. 13, Sec. 2. Story and photographs of cornerstone ceremony. Principal speaker Edward M. Kennedy representing the Kennedy Foundation which funded the gym.

- Jewish Advocate, Jan. 21, 1960, p. 12 and March 17, 1960, p. 3. Open house at the new gym, March 27, 1960.

- Jamaica Plain Citizen, Jan. 28, 1960. Story on new gym.

- Jewish Advocate, Aug. 6, 1970. Front page and page 8. Hecht House to be sold to Dorchester multi service center. Lena Park Housing Development Corp. Result of more than two years of negotiation led by mayoral aid Barney Frank. Forman announcement made by Mayor Kevin White n Aug. 6, 1970. Lena Park Housing Development Corp. formed in 1968 by representatives of two churches, St. Leo's Church and Church of god in Christ (the latter bought the former Temple Beth El). Formed to provide housing, health, education al and social services. Jewish senior citizens will still be served by Association of Jewish Community Centers and a kosher kitchen will be kept.

- Bay State Banner, August 13, 1790, front page and Dec. 31, 1970. HUD grants $538,135 to Lena Park to purchase Hecht House. Grant announced by Mayor White in Aug., 1970. Price of building and land $807,450.

- Bay State Banner, Feb. 15, 1973. Front page. Fire strikes Lena Park. Porch destroyed. Interior gutted (repaired, and Center thrives in 2000)

Home for Destitute Jewish Children
150 American Legion Highway
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 Home for Destitute Jewish Children / Hecht House / Lena Park CDC

150 American Legion Highway, Dorchester, MA 02124

A Brief History

One of the early Jewish social service agencies in Boston and the first in the Jewish community of Roxbury, Dorchester and Mattapan, the Home for Destitute Children was formed by the Ladies Helping Hand for Jewish Children, which was established in 1899 at Beechglen and Fort Avenue in Roxbury.

On November 29, 1907, George Weiner bought 80,000 square feet of land on Canterbury Street at Austin Street for the new Home for Jewish Children. On April 23, 1908 a Trust was formed by a group of men headed by Nathan Pinanski who bought out the mortgage from Weiner and transferred the land to the Ladies Helping Hand. (George Weiner bought the land for Congregation Adath Jeshrun in 1905; Nathan Pinansky was the founder of that Congregation. Today that synagogue building is the First Haitian Baptist Church).

Throughout the next twenty-five years, the Home for Destitute Jewish Children took in and educated orphaned children under sixteen.

On October 7, 134, the Home for Destitute Jewish Children moved to 35 Chestnut Hill Avenue in Brighton. Two years later, the Hecht Neighborhood House took possession of the former Home for Children. The Hecht House was formed in 1890 by Mrs. Jacob H. Hecht as the Hebrew Industrial School for Girls. First located on Hanover Street, in 1922 it purchase 22 Bowdoin Street. It was formed to serve the growing influx of Russian Jews (Russian Jews settled in Roxbury, Dorchester and Mattapan). The settlement house was following the trend of the population moving into Grove Hall southwards.

The Hecht House extensively remodelled the four-story Children's Home as a complete Jewish Community Center. A new entrance through the new playground from Lorne Street was added.

Hecht House merged with the Young Men's Hebrew Assocaition (located at 108 Seaver Street, corner of Humboldt Avenue) about 1958, and in 1959 the YMHA removed to 150 American Legion Highway. Hecht House served young women and YMHA young men, so an indoor recreation facility was needed. The cornerstone for the Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Gymnasium was laid on September 20, 1959, before a crowd of over 1,500. Edward M. Kennedy represented the Kennedy Foundation, which helped underwrite the project. The gym was opened on March 27, 1960.

In 1968 the Lena Park Housing Development Corporation was formed from two churches: The church of God and Saints in Christ (which moved to the Fowler Street Shul in 1976) and St. Leo's Roman Catholic Church. The corporation was created to provide housing, health, educational and social services.

In August 1970, Mayor Kevin H. White announced that the Department of Housing and Urban Development had awarded a grant of $538,135 to Lena Park to purchase Hecht House plus the adjoining land. The sale was worked out between the Combined Jewish Philanthropies, ABCD and the Dorchester APAC with Barney Frank representing Mayor White (also Bob Weinberg) and Pat Jones and Doris Graham (the latter of the Dorchester APAC) representing Lena Park. Sidney Gale and Bernard Olhansky represented the Jewish Philanthropies. The transfer of the buiding to Lena Park occurred in late December, 1970.

In early February, 1973 the building was gutted by fire, which also detroyed the front wooden porch, forcing Lena Park CDC to completely remodel much of the interior. The original staircase to the old dormitory rooms of the young boys and girls remains to this day.

Richard Heath
June 25, 1993.

Home for Destitute Jewish Children
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 A line drawing of the proposed building from the Jewish Advocate March 18, 1910.

Home for Destitute Jewish Children
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 The Home for Destitute Jewish Children in the Jewish Advocate, Dec. 6, 1924.

Home for Destitute Jewish Children advert
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 Advertisement soliciting contributions in Jewish Advocate, March 14, 1929.

Home for Destitute Jewish Children advert
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 Advertisement for Camp Emoh, one of the services of the Home for Jewish Children. Jewish Advocate, March 21, 1929.

150 American Legion Highway map
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 Map detail from City of Boston online showing the location of 150 American Legion Highway.

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150 American Legion Highway150 American Legion Highway
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Created: August 6, 2005   Modified: July 4, 2014