Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The History of Hope Cottage

Emma Wylie Ballard was the president of the Dallas Humane Society and was distressed at the thought of children and babies abandoned in the streets of Dallas. This concern for the welfare of these children was the beginning of Hope Cottage. A few weeks after I began work here, I was shown the original ledgers from Hope Cottage - ledgers that recorded the children who passed through the doors of Hope Cottage from the very beginning. Some of the records will break your heart - an entry that indicates a one month old was left on a back porch swing in the middle of the night in February. Another entry that listed 6 children, ages 4 months - 16 who had been abandoned in a car. We found a copy of an old newspaper article that stated "can you believe this happy boy was the child who was found abandoned on an ant hill".

By 1922 crowded conditions led to the construction of the first Hope Cottage at 2301 Welborn, the site of the present day playground at Scottish Rite Hospital for Children. Babies were cared for in nurseries there until 1960. Enjoying community support, Hope Cottage merged with other agencies serving children. In 1960, the merger with the Children's Bureau, a large foster care organization, broadened the focus to include older children in need of homes. In 1965, Hope Cottage merged with Girls Foundation of the Dallas Federation of Women's Clubs, a foster group home. In the 1970's, a rapid decline in the number of children available for adoption begain with the legalization of abortion. In 1978 Hope Cottage sold its home of fifty years and moved to the present location at McKinney and Fitzhugh Avenues.

And that is where our story stops for today. Tune in next week for a trip from the 80's to the present at Hope Cottage. One thing to remember - for almost 100 years, Hope Cottage, with the assitance of the citizens of Dallas, has been finding loving, permanent homes for children.

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