Care for Children 1888-1964
Officially incorporated in 1888, after several years of varying states of operation, the Children’s Home was founded by one of Kalamazoo’s most eminent families, the Dewing’s (William Goss and Jane Amelia Tuttle). Having made their fortune in the lumber industry, in their later years, William and Jane sought to develop a home that would take in young women of disadvantaged circumstances, and provide them with helpful life skills, and to aid in the cultivation of their self worth.
The Dewing family first created the Industrial School in one of William’s storefronts, a vocational school developed to help young persons acquire valuable, employable skills. The Dewing’s focus on the welfare of indigent children echoed the kind of moral values embedded within Progressive Era reforms that surfaced throughout both Kalamazoo and the nation as a whole in the latter part of the 19th century.
The Children’s Home’s charter outlines their mission: “the maintenance of homes for vagrant children without friends and for the instruction of indigent children generally in the various occupations of the life by training them in virtue and usefulness and for finding them permanent homes in suitable families, and also to give them a common-school education and a moral religious training.” Many of the children were orphans who suffered from a lack of adult supervision and care, and whose ages ranged from 6 to 18. On average, there was around thirty young women in the large house situated on the southeast corner of S. Westnedge Avenue and Ranney Street (827 S. Westnedge). Upon her death in 1900, Jane A. Dewing was still acting as the Children’s Home secretary.
“Thus is closed the life of a woman whose one aim was to do good in the world. Mrs. Dewing was known to a large number in this community where so many active years of her life were lived and many will miss the benevolent face and kind hand of helpfulness.
The great work of her life, however, outside of her home, was manifested in the founding of the Children’s home. To this institution she gave more than official care, and of it she was at the time of her death, a director, and its faithful recording secretary.”
–Kalamazoo Daily Telegraph, 10 September 1900
By the 1930s, adoption of orphaned children became more common, forcing the Children’s Home to pivot their services toward “the rehabilitation of adolescent girls” (Houghton/O’Connor, 38). The home’s construction was financed by William S. Dewing, the son of William G. and Jane, and erected in 1885. The building, later referred to as Dewing Hall, was torn down in 1972 after several years of use for the housing of Fort Custer veterans. In its place, the lot became home to a laundromat.
In 1964, the Children’s Home was combined with the Lake Farm for Boys, an organization begun by William S. Dewing, who like his mother and father, dedicated much of his philanthropic resources toward the welfare of underprivileged young men before his death in 1929. The younger Dewing’s farm home was located off of Oakland Drive, south of White’s Road. The merger of the two organizations resulted in the name change to Lakeside Home.
Article written by Ryan Gage, Kalamazoo Public Library Staff, July 2023
“It’s going down”
Kalamazoo Gazette, 12 December 1971, page B13, column 1
“A haven with love”
Encore Magazine, November 1982
Kalamazoo: lost and found
Lynn Smith Houghton, Pamela Hall O’Connor
H 720.9774 H838
Compendium of history of Kalamazoo County
David Fisher and Frank Little
H 977.417 F53, p.69
Local History Room Files
Subject File: Buildings – Kalamazoo – Westnedge, S., 827
Name File: Dewing, Jane A.
Name File: Dewing, William G.
Name File: Dewing, William S.