General info.The Brooklyn Newsboys' LH was set up and run very much like the CAS's lodging houses in Manhattan. This meant an affordable bed and meals, wash-rooms, a gymnasium, a school within the building, a superintendent, and so forth.
Aside from it being known as the Newsboys' LH or Newsboys' Home, a 1899 article refers to it as the Children's Home, and articles in 1899, 1900 and 1902 refer to it as the Working Boys' Home.
Where was it located?
The building is on the north side of Poplar Street, slightly west of center
of the block bounded by Henry and Hicks Streets. It lies two blocks
south of the approach to the Brooklyn Bridge; the area is known as
The official address was 61 Poplar Street, Brooklyn.
When did it open its doors?Jan. 14, 1884.
Who ran it?Brooklyn had its own Children's Aid Society, modeled upon but operating separately from the CAS in Manhattan. It got its start in 1866, about a decade after Rev. Brace's CAS was formed.
General building details.
The building has four stories, plus a high basement/cellar. This includes
It is built of red brick, with a front of "Ohio stone trimmings." The building measures 57 feet across by 94 feet deep. It has a mansard roof, numerous tall thin windows, and steps leading up to its front door. Doors and window-frames were of light hardwoods.
On June 22, 1899, a large U.S. flag was presented to the LH, to be flown on a staff at the top of the building.
Layout of the building.See "Layout" page.
What was the procedure for spending the night?
This was much the same as with the DSLH. Boys had to first register
with the Supt. before they could get a bed or a meal.
The LH's Poplar St. entrance was meant to be used by staff or visitors. The boys themselves had to enter the building through a door on the alley side (the building's east side). This door opened onto a landing, from which stairs led directly to the Supt.'s office.
Schooling for lodgers.
"Evening schools, gymnasium and library classes are conducted for the boys who lodge at 61 Poplar street." (Brooklyn Eagle, No.v 12, 1898)
"The number of boys at the Working Boys' Home [i.e., Newsboys' LH] is constantly increasing. In addition to their lodging, they are given the privilege of evening school, classes in drawing, manual training, military drill and gymnasium." (Brooklyn Eagle, Jan. 5, 1899)
As with the LHs run by the Manhattan CAS, the Brooklyn Lodging House contained an Industrial School, attended by both boys and girls who did not actually lodge there.
This included a sewing room with cutting tables and 50 machines (both boys and girls were taught sewing). In an era known for crowded, stuffy sweatshops, it's interesting to note that the New York Tribune (Dec. 21, 1896) article points out that the room was "large, bright, and well-ventilated." Classes were at 9 a.m. every day except Saturday.
On Mar. 22, 1888 a cooking school was also opened in the building. The article mentions only girls in this class. Students were taught to make a variety of dishes, including bread, meat, vegetables, and dessert, and whatever they made they were free to take home.
"In addition to the sewing machine class...the society is now about to open reading clubs for the older boys, gymnasium classes and the classes in cooking, music, drawing and manual training." (Brooklyn Eagle, Oct. 10, 1898)
On July 10, 1899, a playground and outdoor kindergarten was opened (by the Brooklyn Society of Parks and Playgrounds) in the courtyard behind the building. Intended for the neighborhood children and not the lodging boys, it was open from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. every day except Sunday. It was initially limited to children under ten, but due to demand the age limit was raised to 16. It was also meant to be only open in the summer, but was so popular in the first few months that leaving it open for the winter was under consideration as well (I do not know if this was implemented).
It was divided into two sections. The playground section consisted of three swings, two to four seesaws, and two sand piles (with shovels and tin pails), and there was a large area covered by a canvas awning. Settees were against one of the surrounding walls. The other section, raised one step up from the playground, was a flagstoned area with a large rug and benches, meant to be used by mothers and babies.
The kindergarten room of the nearby Bethel Mission was connected to this courtyard by a stairway; the room was to be used on rainy days.
Like the Manhattan CAS lodging houses, holiday dinners were also provided to the boys at the LH and to the other children cared for by the BCAS.
A request for donations that appeared in the Brooklyn Eagle on Dec. 8, 1899 read, in part, "We are planning a merry Christmas for the children under our care in the Shelter, in boarding homes and in the Newsboys' Home. They are to have a Santa Claus, tree, candy, books, clothing, entertainments, a generous dinner and, in short, a fine time."
This turned out to be surprisingly difficult to determine. Between 1889 and 1901 (the years in which I searched), at least two different men held the position of "Superintendent": Linnaeus C. Hill (until at least 1898) and a Mr. White (possibly Francis H. White, the BCAS secretary; there is a reference to "Supt. White" in the Dec. 1, 1901 Brooklyn Eagle). Strangely, neither of these men were described as having any interactions with the lodging boys, in contrast to the Superintendents of the DSLH and its predecessors.
It turned out that "Superintendent," in the BCAS, apparently had a more general role in the Society; and that the person who actually managed the day-to-day necessities of the LH from 1880 to 1900 or early 1901 was Mrs. Lucy M. Kirkby, also known as Mrs. William J. Kirkby. Newspaper articles variously referred to her position as "matron," "manager," or "evening-school principal" (which she was, in addition to her duties as matron). She was a former teacher.
Her late husband William Kirkby had been Superintendent (in the more familiar sense of the position, as manager of the LH) of the Brooklyn Newsboys' LH for 14 years (ever since the LH was established), until his death on Jul. 4, 1880 after a long illness. He was said to have been a kind and dutiful man, and his passing at the young age of 43 was deeply mourned.
Mrs. Kirkby, who had already been an assistant to her husband, then took up his role, and would continue at it for another two decades. She passed away Mar. 3, 1902 after being ill for over year. Her obituary in the Brooklyn Eagle Mar. 7, 1902 read, in part, "Thousands of the unfortunate boys of Brooklyn [...] have reason to remember her with deep thankfulness and affection [...] Small in person, it was a constant surprise that she was able to keep in order so many rough, untrained youths."
To the boys, she was known as "Mrs. Kirby," and this spelling was sometimes used in newspaper articles.
There was also an assistant matron at the LH. From (at least) Nov. 1896 to Nov. 1898, this was a Mrs. C. Shaw.
What became of the building?It still stands!
In early 1902, when it was still a LH, some improvements were made to the building. (I have no details on what specifically was done, nor even to what extent.) I am not sure when the CAS stopped using it as a lodging house.
By 1911, it had been turned into studio apartments. By the 1960's, it was being used as machine shop, and then was apparently abandoned.
In 1987, the building was restored and converted, along with a number of other similar buildings in the area, into high-end condos. The address had by then become 55 Poplar Street, even though the building itself remained right where it was. Today, it is still No. 55, and the condos are still in use, and still very expensive.
[Edited Mar. 26, 2009] It is actually unclear whether the building has now been renumbered to 55 or not; I have seen 55 used to refer to both this building and the building immediately to its left. If anyone has more information, please let me know.
Images.See "Images" page.
The first LH.The Brooklyn LH that existed in 1899 was actually a replacement for the first LH, which over the years had gotten too small to accommodate the boys who stayed there and the children who attended its school. The old building was torn down, and the new LH built on the same site.
The original LH was opened Sep. 1, 1866. At the time, the address was known as 69 Poplar Street. It was a squarish three-story building. In 1868 it annexed the adjoining building, 65 Poplar, for more space. By 1882 plans had already been laid to replace the LH with a larger structure.
The St. Vincent's Home for Boys, popularly referred to as the newsboys' home, was located at 7 Poplar Street. It was established in 1869 by the St. Vincent de Paul's Society. Not to be confused with the St. Vincent's Home for newsboys opened by Fr. Drumgoole in Manhattan, the St. Vincent's LH in Brooklyn came one year earlier. What both St. Vincent's did have in common was that they focused their work on homeless Catholic children. There was, in fact, some tension between the Catholic organizations and the CAS.
Religious differences aside, the St. Vincent's LH had its everyday similarities to the Brooklyn/Manhattan CAS LHs: sleeping quarters and meals at a low cost, evening classes, holiday banquents, savings bank, and various forms of entertainment, all of this being contained within a single building. Instead of a superintendent, there was a resident chaplain, who in 1899 was a Fr. W. L. Blake. It was said to be open to all who were homeless, but was primarily patronized by newsboys.
In 1894, there was some talk of opening up yet another newsboys' LH in Brooklyn, again along the lines of existing LHs (dormitories, classrooms, etc.). This new home would have been located near Brooklyn's City Hall and was to be called the Newsboys' College. It was not affiliated with the Brooklyn CAS, although I am not sure if the men behind it were associated with any other organization. It did not seem, however, to have ever gotten past the planning stage, as I can find no evidence of it actually being built.