Henry Street Settlement was founded in 1893 by Lillian Wald to care for poor immigrants living in terrible conditions in the tenements of the Lower East Side. The headquarters at 263, 265 and 267 Henry Street are Federal style row houses built circa 1830. Philanthropist Jacob Schiff purchased 265 Henry Street for Wald in 1895 in order to give her and her nurses a place to carry out their humanitarian mission. Today Henry Street Settlement upholds Wald’s tradition of humanitarian work through its many programs for the community.

When Henry Street was founded at the turn of the century, Lillian Wald had attended the New York Hospital School of Nursing. Through her leadership, many important initiatives were carried out–things most New Yorkers take for granted today. In 1902, Henry Street paid the salary of the first nurse in a New York City public school, prompting the Board of Education to places nurses in schools. Wald created one of the first playgrounds in the city to protect children from the dangers of playing in the streets. In 1908-09, Henry Street opened summer camps for boys and girls. The Settlement also created and supported arts programs, including The Neighborhood Playhouse and the Henry Street Music School. At the time, Wald lived in the Settlement and provided opportunities for nurses to work and live in the maid’s quarters originally occupied by Irish servants when the row houses were owned by middle and upper class families.

The site of Henry Street’s playground, founded by Lillian Wald to give children a safe place to play.

The balcony off Lillian Wald’s room, where she spent hot summer nights.

The dining room features a portrait of Lillian Wald and original samovars.

Today Henry Street provides services to over 50,000 New Yorkers each year, including senior services, youth programs, primary & behavioral health, job training & placement, transitional & supportive housing, and the Abrons Arts Center/Performing & Visual arts.

Partners in Preservation is New York City’s first-ever citywide grassroots preservation effort. Through an  online  vote ,  $3 million dollars will be allocated towards preservation projects across the five boroughs. Henry Street Settlement has teamed up with the Municipal Art Society to work toward making energy efficient gains that can serve as a model for other historic buildings in New York City. If awarded funding from Partners in Preservation, they would use the funding to complete a comprehensive retrofitting of the building, including replacing outdated boilers and faulty windows, without compromising the architectural integrity of the historic buildings. The money they can save on energy bills would then be used to benefit the programs being affected by budget cuts.

Click  here  to vote for Henry Street Settlement, and find out more about Henry Street Settlement  @henrystreet  and on  their website. Follow Untapped Cities on  Twitter  and  Facebook. Get in touch with the author  @lauraitzkowitz.

Untapped Cities is an official blog ambassador for Partners in Preservation, a community-based initiative by American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation to raise awareness of the importance of historic places. Stay up-to-date with Untapped’s coverage of all 40 sites by following our Partners in Preservation category