The Ellis Story

For over a century, Ellis Memorial (Ellis) has strengthened Boston’s inner city working families with high quality education and care for children, youth and vulnerable adults. The goal of all our programs is to engage, educate and empower.
We were founded in 1885 as a club for boys, to keep them off the streets and out of trouble. In the early 20th century, Ellis joined the settlement house movement that was taking root at the time in major urban areas. Settlement houses were led and staffed by volunteers and patrons who had the time and financial resources to help improve the living conditions of working families living in poverty. Education was one of the most important services they provided.
Throughout our history, we have maintained the commitment and philosophy of the settlement house movement to build a stronger community by addressing the unmet needs of our city’s working families, especially with regard to education.We are committed to the healthy development of preschool children, success in school for elementary and middle school students, and the emotional and physical well-being of elderly and disabled adults.
Ellis programs are located in two historic buildings we own at 58 and 66 Berkeley Street in Boston’s South End, and in leased space on Chandler Street and at Madison Park in Roxbury.

Ellis Memorial and Eldredge House: A Timeline

1885      Miss Ida Eldredge founds a club for boys and names it in memory of Dr. Rufus Ellis, who had been pastor of the First Church in Boston for 32 years until his death on September 23, 1885. The Club opens in December 1885 on the third floor of 241 Tremont Street, a building owned by Ida's father James T. Eldredge.
1900      The club incorporates and is officially named Ellis Memorial & Eldredge House, adopting by-laws and electing officers. They purchase a house at 12 Carver Street (near the location of today’s Massachusetts Transportation Building).
1910       The organization celebrates its 25th anniversary, and becomes a settlement house at Carver Street, with three resident workers.
1918     Eliot Wadsworth donates 243 acres of land and buildings in Sharon, Massachusetts to Ellis Memorial. It is used to expand summer camp programs which Ellis has been running since 1903 in New Hampshire. Camp Wadsworth would continue for many years, with city dwellers of all ages coming for daytime picnics, weekends and longer summer stays for children, families and elders.
1924       First United Presbyterian Church sells Ellis Memorial a church building at 66 Berkeley Street, which the organization renovates and uses to expand programs and services.
1950      Ellis Memorial becomes a member of the Federation of South End Settlements.
1960      The first Annual Ellis Memorial Antiques Show is organized by local philanthropists and art lovers, many from Boston's Beacon Hill neighborhood, as a charity gala to benefit Ellis Memorial. The Antiques Show becomes a signature annual fixture on Boston's social and philanthropic circuit.
1978      Ellis establishes the Adult Day Health Program to help the elderly and disabled avoid isolation and institutionalization. The program supports them in their efforts to stay out of residential care programs by providing daily medical monitoring, activities, meals and connections to a caring community.
1987     Ellis becomes an affiliate of the United Way.
1999      Ellis opens an out-of-school time program at Tent City, on Dartmouth Street near Back Bay station, which runs for 10 years
2001      Our Infant/Toddler program moves from 66 to 95 Berkeley Street and expands to serve 25 families. The Adult Day Health Program moves to new and expanded space at 1 Chandler Street.
2003      Ellis Memorial enters into a partnership with Madison Park Development Corporation and assumes operations of the out-of-school time program at Madison Park Village.
2010- 2012      Ellis Memorial acquires and renovates a historic building at 58 Berkeley Street, and in September of 2012 opens a state-of-the-art Early Education Center, expanding its footprint in the South End and increasing programmatic capacity to 117 children aged w months -5 years The School-Age Programs at Madison Park and 66 Berkeley Street are enrolling over 120 children and youth a year.
2015     Ellis Memorial celebrates 130 years of strengthening Boston's inner city working families.


What's Happening

Thank you to our friends at Highland Street Foundation for the warm and cozy coats!
What are you thankful for this year?


Around Ellis


Click here to see current job openings at Ellis!


66 Berkeley Street is officially open! Click the image below to see pictures from our EEOST Grand Opening Event from June.

See all the progress in our photo gallery.