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Grand Rapids in 1856

Scene of early Grand Rapids viewed from the...

Noble Gift, The Delos A. Blodgett Home for Children

 Mr. Delos A. Blodgett, of this city, has created in the new D. A. Blodgett Home for Children a lasting monument to his genuine humanity because his offering to the absolutely helpless, homeless little children has been made with no hope of reward other than the incomparable satisfaction he enjoys in the thought that he is doing what he has done because of this love and sympathy for the little ones.


On June 23, 1892, the Children’s Home Society was incorporated with the following charter members: Anna Horton, Ellen L. Moore, Emma H. Strahan, Cora H. Sweet, Clara S. Morley, Lucia E. Colwell and Sara J. Davidson. The articles of association provided for a president, vice-president, secretary and a treasurer, to hold office for one year; also for seven trustees, to hold office three years.

November 17, 1892—five months after incorporation—the following officers were elected: President, Mrs. Heman N. Moore; Treasurer, Mrs. Sweet; Secretary, Mrs. Samuel Watson. Without even a home, without a regularly employed matron and with no fund to draw upon the new organization began work, and very soon secured the interest and reliable assistance of Mr. D. A. Blodgett, so that in a short time the Fuller homestead on Lafayette Street was secured to meet the needs of the Association.

The first child admitted to the home was a waif sent by Mr. Blodgett upon receiving assurances that the institution would be conducted along non-sectarian lines, and that no child should be refused admission because of extreme infancy.

Very soon it became apparent that a permanent home, owned by the Society, was an absolute necessity and Mr. Blodgett was appealed to. The result was that the I. M. Clark homestead, the site of the beautiful new home, was purchased, Mr. Clark donating $1000 by taking if off the price he asked for the property and Mr. Blodgett paying $9000 to secure the property, which he presented to the Society.

During this time an Advisory Board was created, consisting of D. A. Blodgett, H.N. Moore, Thos. W. Strahan, E. Crofton Fox, J.H. McKee, Dr. R.H. Stevens and J.W. Rosenthal.

Under the advice of the Board a committee was appointed to remodel the old building which has served its purpose to the present time. Mr. Blodgett paid all bills as they came with the approval of this committee, and from that time to the present he has been the chief supporter of the institution, although many other contributions were made by citizens. About 1889 the home received a legacy from the Schermerhorn estate which has yielded from $1000 to $1200 a year toward the support of the institution.

During the life of the Children’s Home Society the following ladies have filled the office of president: Mrs. Heman N. Moore, Mrs. T.W. Strahan, Mrs. M.R. Bissell, Mrs. Julia Goldsmith, Mrs. Cook, Mrs. E.D. Conger and Mrs. M. J. (Emily) Clark.

The present officers are: President, Mrs. M. J. (Emily) Clark; Trustees, Mrs. Wm. Logie Sr., Mrs. Chas. Coburn, Mrs. N.G.McFee, Mrs. Mina Dykema, Mrs. Alex Dodds, and Mrs. D.A. Blodgett.

Advisory Board; Messers. Amos S. Musselman, Alvah W. Brown, Geo. E. Ellis, H.D. Jewell, M. J. Clark and D. A. Blodgett.

Matron, Miss Robinson

The New Building

With a tract of land 150 feet wide and 300 feet deep as the site Mr. Blodgett commissioned Mr. A. W. Buckley, of Chicago, to prepare plans for the new building. Mr. Buckley performed the commission, submitted his plans, which were accepted, and the contract for constructing the home was let to Mr. N. J. Westra of this city.

The result is that one of the finest public buildings in Michigan and the largest and most complete institution of the kind in our state is about ready for a formal dedication. The structure faces the north, showing an ornate façade of dark red vitrified brick with tile, white glazed, in four great columns, Corinthian in design, with fluted shafts and capitals having the acanthus motif, which is also seen in the consoles of the cornice. Great white pilasters are shown at the corners of the building and at the junction of the colonnaded portico with the main building. Window sills and caps are also of white tile, glazed, and across the entire front is a spacious, dignified porch with a balustrade of white, which balustrade is balanced by another of similar design as a part of the entablature above the cornice. Upon the west façade is a port-cochere of fine proportions and giving entrance to the main corridor on the first floor.

The Ground Plan

Of the building shows that its main or front structure covers an area 52X 100 feet, while each one of the rear wings, together with the rear central court, complete the occupancy of a total area 100X112 feet in size.

The First Floor

The front porch extends across the entire structure, the central or main section being 22X34 feet in area, with each side section 18 ft. 6 in. deep by 33 feet wide. The extra depth of the central section forms a recessed entrance to a vestibule 20 feet wide which intersects the main hallway which extends across the entire side of the building. Across this hallway from the vestibule is the main stairway, 5 feet wide, leading respectively to the upper floors and to the basement.

At the west side of the vestibule are the parents’ reception room and an imposing apartment, the library and directors’ room, 21X32 feet in size. On the opposite or east side of the main entrance are the public reception room, the office and the matron’s apartments.

The east wing contains the nursery ward, the nursery dining room, the small children’s dormitory, the infants’ dormitory and the attendants’ apartments. At the south end of the east wind is a porch 16 feet wide and 32 feet long.

The first floor of the west wing is given over to a main dining hall 35X54 feet in area, the servants’ ward, sewing room, baths, closets, etc.

The Second Floor

At the northeast corner of the building on this floor is the kindergarten, a fine large room equipped with closets, shelving, racks and all the paraphernalia of Froebel’s wondrous gift to children. Across the hallway from this room and occupying the whole of the second floor of the east wing is a splendid assembly room, bountifully lighted, with high ceilings and with a platform and retiring rooms at either end. This room will easily seat 300 people.

The entire west half of the second floor is given over to three bedrooms with closets, three dormitories for girls, lavatories, linen closets and toilet rooms.

Third Floor

Eleven bedrooms, each with its clothes closet; three large dormitories for boys; linen closets, clothing rooms, toilet rooms and lavatories occupy the whole of this floor, which does not extend over the east wing or assembly room.The Basement Floor extends under the entire building and is, perhaps, as interesting as any feature of the institution because it is spacious, light and airy, and with its concrete floors, its wide corridors and the uses to which the rooms are put emphasizes the utility, comfort and thorough convenience of the entire establishment.

In the northwest corner is the boys’ play room and in the southeast position is the girls’ play room, great jolly rooms where, stormy or cold or hot although the weather may be, the little ones may frolic to their hearts’ content.

In the west half of the basement are located the fuel rooms, the three great heating boilers, the engines and pumps, the dynamos and the elevator gearing, together with the overhead trolley to the ash room. South of these on the same floor are the servants’ rooms, the kitchen with its ovens, ranges, flour bins, fruit and vegetable rooms, china closet, etc. and the laundry with tubs, water motors and drying rooms, the great refrigerator room and away off in an isolated underground dungeon, accessible from outside, is the garbage cellar.

Without going into details as to finish and furnishings, it is sufficient to say that every known device for the saving of time and labor, for the preservation of cleanliness, for purity of air for heating, lighting, ventilation and general convenience, is provided without regard to cost.

A Hospital Next

Mr. Blodgett’s great generosity has not yet reached its limits because he has plans already drawn for a hospital to be built just east of the old home building as it is now located. This institution will be for the exclusive use of children living at the home and will have isolated wards for contagious diseases and operating rooms, laboratories and all modern features of a high grade hospital.

Note: Delos Abiel Blodgett died November 1, 1908, about seven weeks after this article appeared.

Michigan Tradesman, September 16, 1908, page 2

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