In 1924, two local women who were concerned about the welfare of their neighbors opened a neighborhood center on the North Shore. Ninety five years later, Northside Neighborhood House has changed its name, location and leadership but remained true to its mission—to provide a hand up, not a hand out to neighbors in need.
On February 14, 1924, Mrs. Rose Longgley, Mrs. Emily Page Schelessinger, 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, providing kindergarten and teaching sewing and quilting.
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 for the center was Mrs. W. H. Delaney and the assistant was Mrs. M. A. Parks. In 1925 as the center grew, they needed more space and moved across the street to 2 Frazier Avenue.
The center was moved to 530 North Market Street in 1931 and was able to serve more people and offer more programs. Mrs. Rose Longgley became the director in 1937 and continued in that capacity for 36 years. The mothers club continued to make quilts, some were made “for hire” and the money used for the projects of the center.
The Northside Neighborhood House became the name of the North Chattanooga Community Center in 1950 because of some confusion about the similar names of the community center on Manning Street and another community center. When Mrs. Longgley retired in 1973, the name was changed to Rose S. Longgley Northside Neighborhood House, but in the 1980′s the board changed it back to the Northside Neighborhood House because of the length of the name.
A portrait of Mrs. Longgley and a plaque honoring Mrs. Schlessinger hang in the lobby of the Northside Neighborhood House today. Over ninety three years later, the Northside Neighborhood House continues to offer a hand up, not a hand out to those in need living north of the river.