History

Prepared by Robert B. Immordino

1921 to 1950
Following the death of Mr. McLane in 1921, annual memorial programs were held by Princeton's Italians at the House in honor of their benefactor. In his will, Mr. McLane left three-fifths of his estate as an endowment to finance the work and upkeep of Dorothea's House.

At Ms. Purves's suggestion, the Board of Trustees in the early 1930s invited the Princeton Social Service Bureau (the forerunner of today's Princeton Family Service) to locate and conduct their operations from Dorothea's House. Ms. Purves felt that, since poor Italians of Princeton comprised the bulk of the Bureau's clients, the Bureau's repsence at the House would complement her services. The Social Service Bureau initially occupied one room of Dorothea's House; Today, the expanded services of Family Services occupies most of the upper floor of Dorothea's House.

At its Dec. 8, 1937 meeting, the Board of Trustees heard a report from its special committee studying the further usefulness of Dorothea's House. The committee reported that an increasing movement of the Italian population from the close environs of Dorothea's House was resulting in a progressive slackening of day-to-day activities. The report concluded that "the programme of the House the last 23 years had largely accomplished its purpose in absorbing the Italian groups in the community."

During the ensuing months, the Trustees discussed plans concerning increased use of the House by youth groups, including a cooperative arrangement with the Princeton YMCA. In the course of their discussions, the Trustees emphasized that there was not to be any interference with the Italians' use of the building. A committee was empowered to make decisions, and the arrangement provided for the employment of a full-time Director of Boys Work. Costs of the Director's position were to be shared by the YMCA and the Dorothea's House Board of Trustees. The YMCA arrangement as reported to the Board at its October, 1939, meeting had infused "obviously fresh life into the House."

The joint YMCA-Dorothea's House arrangement led to expanded youth work at the House. The intervention of World War II saw the young adults of the relatively large Italian families joining the armed forces. The Italian lodges and clubs, comprised mostly of the older generation, continued their meetings and activities at the House.

In 1943, Francis G. Clark was employed by the Mercer County and Princeton YMCA in an executive position. Mr. Clark worked closely with Ms. Purves at Dorothea's House. When she retired in 1946, Mr. Clark began a formal, long, and close association with the Dorothea's House Board of Trustees that, after more than 50 years, continues to this day. Shortly after Mr. Clark retired as Executive Secretary of the Princeton YMCA in 1977, the Board asked him to become the Building Manager of Dorothea's House, to which he agreed.