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The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

ALTA HOUSE - The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

ALTA HOUSE, one of the city's oldest SETTLEMENT HOUSES, was established in 1895 as a day nursery for working Italian immigrant women in LITTLE ITALY. In 1898 the nursery came under the administration of the CLEVELAND DAY NURSERY AND FREE KINDERGARTEN ASSN., INC. and rapidly expanded under the direction of Louise (Mrs. Marius E.) Rawson. Rawson and neighborhood leader JOSEPH CARABELLI† approached JOHN D. ROCKEFELLER†, who agreed to finance a new building in 1898, at 12515 Mayfield Rd. By the facility's dedication, 20 Feb. 1900, the nursery had expanded to a social settlement. Named after Rockefeller's daughter, Alta Rockefeller Prentice, Alta House provided clubs, classes, and a community center, as well as a nursery. During the settlement's early years, Rockefeller provided operating funds and added to the physical plant.

Alta House, Mayfield Rd. and E. 125, ca. 1920. WRHS.

In 1910 he purchased adjacent land for a playground and in 1913 donated another building, which eventually housed a library, swimming pool, and gymnasium. In 1921 the Rockefeller family asked to be relieved of its responsibilities, and the next year the Cleveland Community Fund began to fund Alta House. Throughout its history, the settlement maintained a close relationship with area residents. Its Board of Trustees (est. 1900) always included neighborhood leaders, and its programs often reflected their cultural background. In the 1960s and 1970s, Alta House expanded its programs to include education and elderly aid services. In 1985 the City of Cleveland awarded a $50,000 Community Development Block Grant to renovate the facility. The funding also allowed for an elderly caseworker for the community's senior residents. These services greatly expanded in the late 1980s to include escorts for the elderly, meals on wheels, and visiting/telephone "reassurance" programs. Despite shifting population and the destruction of the main building by fire in 1981, Alta House remained one of the city's most viable neighborhood centers and an active member of the Mayfield-Murray Hill community. By its centennial year, 1995, the Alta House, an active member of the Neighborhood Center Assn., planned to raise $1.8 million for further facility renovations and programs through the NCA and local fundraising. Marcia Foschia served as Alta House president in 1995.

Alta Social Settlement Records, WRHS.

Reifsneider, Carl J. Alta House (1953).

Last Modified: 18 Mar 1998 11:58:06 AM

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