In 1924, local women who were concerned about the welfare of their neighbors opened a neighborhood center on the North Shore. Since then, the Northside Neighborhood House has changed its name, location, and leadership, but remained true to its mission, which is to provide a hand up, not a handout, to neighbors in need.
On February 14, 1924, Mrs. Rose Longgley, Mrs. Emily Page Schlesinger, and other supporters chartered the North Chattanooga Community Center (Northside Neighborhood House). In its infancy, the center addressed a wide range of needs such as helping the sick, patching marital riffs, and providing kindergarten classes. The ladies also recognized that bedding was a concern for mothers who were trying to keep their children warm while living in temporary shacks, lean-tos, and other forms of substandard housing. Sewing and quilting were taught as a life skill and means to self-sufficiency.
The first home of the North Chattanooga Community Center was 1 Frazier Avenue in a building that had housed a broom factory. There had been a fire, and the stove had burned a hole and fallen through the floor. Mrs. Longgley had a piece of zinc placed over the hole, and they began to use the building.
The first director was Mrs. W. H. Delaney, assisted by Mrs. M. A. Parks. As the center grew, they needed more space and in 1925 the center moved across the street to 2 Frazier Avenue. In 1931, the center was moved to 530 North Market Street, providing the opportunity to serve more people and offer more programs. Mrs. Rose Longgley became the director in 1937 and continued in that capacity for 36 years. To fund programming, the ladies returned to quilting, selling them to ensure income was available to the center's projects.
A portrait of Mrs. Longgley and a plaque honoring Mrs. Schlesinger hang in the lobby of the main office today. Almost a century later, the Northside Neighborhood House continues to offer a hand up, not a handout, to those in need living north of the river.