Esther Hall and Deaconess Home

An early document portrays life in the former Esther Hall residence: "In every large city there are many young girls from small towns coming to the city to work or to attend business college or beauty culture school. For these girls Esther Hall offers an attractive Christian home at small cost.

"The first Esther Hall was established just outside the Loop on the north side of Chicago. … Our own Esther Hall in Indianapolis was purchased by the former Woman's Home Missionary Society to provide a home for Deaconesses and was dedicated as such Sept. 14, 1935.

"The Indiana Conference of Woman's Society of Christian Service was organized in Oct. 1940 in Robert's Park Church. Following the organization, it was decided by the Board of Managers to use the home as a home for young girls and women. …

"The Home for Girls Away from Home was dedicated April 28, 1942. Then it accommodated nine girls. After an intensive remodeling program a few years ago we are able to take care of 20 girls. About 300 can say they have lived at Esther Hall.

"One evening each week we have our Vesper Services.  … The girls take turns in conducting these services and they consist of group singing, scripture reading, and whatever the leader wishes to say or read … .

"Only young women between the ages of 17 and 25 are accepted, and residence is limited to 18 months. … We require two recommendations, one preferably from the pastor of her church. She must have a health certificate including blood test and statement of physical fitness by her family doctor or reliable physician.

"Our rates will be interesting to you, for then you can see why it is a missionary project. They are from $6 to $8 [probably weekly] in the dormitory. This includes two meals a day and room with all bedding furnished by the home.

"We do have a few house rules which help to make group-living livable. The house must be quiet after 10:00 p.m.. They have the privilege of staying out with dates two nights a week. … Smoking in the home is not permissible."

By 1967, after more than 30 years in the location on New Jersey Street, it was clear that the program either had to move or be discontinued. Plans were laid, and in 1970 the Esther Hall program became the Lucille Raines Residence for Women which opened in new quarters on North Pennsylvania Avenue. The New Jersey Street building was then renamed Dignity House, a half-way home for boys in trouble. Today it is a private residence and not open for tours.

GPS: 39 47 03.29, -086 09 02.59

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