Benton House was part of the early 20th century settlement house movement. It was founded as Providence Day Nursery in 1907 by Janett Sturges offering day-care support for mothers who worked in local factories. The nursery provided the children with three meals a day and weekly health check-ups by a local doctor. For the parents, nutrition clinics and English classes were offered in the evening.
In 1916, a building addition included the House of Happiness, a recreational site for older children. The House of Happiness offered classes in reading, woodshop, sewing, sports, arts, dance and home economics. Citizenship classes were also held for the increasing number of immigrants migrating to the area.
In 1938, Pearce Hall and Gymnasium was built “for healthful recreation and skilled instruction promoting social responsibility and personal enrichment through group activity.” This building included classrooms, a large gymnasium, lockers, showers, stage, woodshop, and kitchen.
In 1942, the facilities were renamed Benton Community Settlement or “Benton House” in tribute to the founder’s daughter, Katherine “Ma Benton” Sturges Benton who took over its direction.
Over the years, Benton House became a place where the neighborhood gathered for concerts, events and political rallies.
Rich in history, Benton House has always remained rooted in its original mission, as many of its programs, services, and buildings stand as a tribute to previous generations. With unyielding determination, the organization will continue to grow to meet the needs of present and future generations.