In 1945, Father Reinhart Gutmann established an Episcopal City Mission that would “operate as a social center for neighborhood children, because there happened to be a very real need for such a center on the West Side of the city.” The City Mission, which became Neighborhood House in 1950, grew rapidly during the early years adding a nursery school (now an accredited early education program), an older adult program, and Family Life Education Services.
Ray Richardson was recruited by Father Gutmann to Neighborhood House in 1950 and served as Executive Director from 1960 to 1987. Ray strove to help people recognize and develop their individual strengths and abilities and to make those qualities work for them, their families and their community. His legacy continues in the lives children and families touched by Neighborhood House, and in the work that goes on every day at its Nature Center, International Learning Program, Safe Place at Story School, and main site at 2819 W. Richardson Place.
Neighborhood House moved from 27th Street to its current location in 1967. Another 14,000 square feet of space was added to the original building in 1994 to accommodate expansion to pre-school aged children.
In 1993, Neighborhood House incorporated the Indochinese Learning Center to its programs. As a result Neighborhood House now provides literacy services to hundreds of recent refugees, primarily Southeast Asian and African families. Later, the name was changed to the International Learning Program to reflect its broadening diversity. In early 2020, NH committed to open a new program, a Food Pantry when the only area pantry closed suddenly before the pandemic took hold. During the statewide shutdown, Neighborhood House raised enough money to support a full year’s operation. The Pantry opened on July 22, 2020 and has continuously served thousands of area residents since then.
Thanks to the early leadership of Father Gutmann and Ray Richardson, Neighborhood House today continues to be a beacon of hope, an education center inspiring discovery in children and families from all backgrounds by offering educational, social, and recreational activities for people at all stages of life, regardless of income.