The Northern Home was organized April 28, 1853, by a few benevolent ladies, who met in the parlor of John W. Claghorn, Esq., 1009 Arch Street. Thomas Earp, Esq., was elected President of the Board of Trustees; Thomas S. Mitchell, Esq, Treasurer; Wm. R. Stockton, Secretary; and MacGregor J. Mitcheson and James J. Barclay, Esqs., Solicitors. Upon the death of Mr. Mitchell, John W. Claghorn, Esq., was elected Treasurer, and faithfully discharged the duties of the position until his death. The retirement of Mr. Stockton resulted in the election of Mr. Mitcheson as Secretary, which office he fulled until elected President of the Board of Trustees, in 1875.
Although a Board of Trustees was elected, the administration of the Home has rested principally in the hands of twenty-four lady managers, of whom Mrs. Rev. Edwin W. Hutter, D. D., was chosen first President, and continues to serve in that capacity with great acceptability to all concerned. She was ably assisted by the following officers: Vice-Presidents, Mrs. John W. Claghorn (who was one of the founders of the Home, and continued to work with unabated zeal to her death) and Mrs. Johyn Wiegand; Treasurer, Mrs. R. Hammett; Recording Secretary, Miss Susan O'Neill; Corresponding Secretary, Mrs. George Duffield, Jr.
The act of incorporation was approved January 26, 1854. The object of the corporators was, as recited in the preamble, "the laudable and benevolent purpose of educationg and providing for friendless children."
The Managers feeling the need of this form of benevolence, but with no other capital than trust in God and a willingness to work, instituted a series of floral fairs at the "Chinese Museum," and subsequently at Concert Hall, to raise funds; and succeeded remarkably well in their efforts. The press of the city assisted in the work, and teemed with friendly notices of the undertaking. A poem, written expecially for the occasion by the late Thomas Buchannan Read, was read at the opening of these fairs. Other pens were also employed in like benevolent work, among the ablest of which was that of the late Rev. Dr. Hutter, who for many years was a trustee of the institution. He gave the whole weight of his large personal influence to the project, and wrote with telling effect. To him is largely due the earliest successes of the Northern Home. Althought a man of such distinguished literary ability, he became as a little child in his gentleness and child-like sympathy in his intercourse with the children of the Northern Home and Soldiers' Orphan Institute. It was beautiful to behold them flocking around him, anxious for a part in the "good man's smile," so heavenly in its sweetness.
The institution began operations in an humble way, in what was then known as the "Old Soup House," on Buttonwood, below Broad Street. The first year it was made the custodian of forty-seven children, and since then the number has constantly increased.
A large and handsome building was soon erected, at the north-east corner of Twenty-Third and Brown Streets. It was built in the most substantial manner, with large, airy halls extending the whole length of the building, and in every way admirably adapted to the purpose for which it was designed. Subsequently, the Trustees purchased the ground adjoining the site upon which the buildings were erected, thus securing nearly the entire square bounded by Twenty-Second and Twenty-Third and Brown and Parrish Streets.
Since the establishment of the Northern Home, it has floated on the full tide of success. Although a home for friendless children, it has never itself been friendless, and scarcely even a child. Like Minerva from the head of Jove, or Adam from the hand of God, it sprang into perfected maturity almost at a bound, quickly attaining to what other institutions reach only, if at all, by slow and painful degrees.
At the breaking out of the Rebellion, the Northern Home opened its doors to the children of the brave men who had gone forth in defence of the imperilled Union, even before any of their fathers had fallen in the struggle. Here the children were kept free of expense, with the understanding that, if their fathers fell in battle, they would be permanently cared for; but, if the soldiers should be so fortunate as to return, the children would be given up to them. Hundreds were kept in this way, for whom the Institute has never received a cent of remuneration.
**excerpt from "Soldiers' Orphan Schools," by James Laughery Paul; 1877