Two boys arrived at the home of Rev. Samuel B. Chase in Lewiston. The boys had been found at a farm near Moscow, Idaho by Dr. O.P. Christian, superintendent of the Boise-based Children’s Home Finding and Aid Society of Idaho.
Rev. Chase and his wife take in over one hundred orphaned children and began seeking foster parents for youth. Foster parents were required “treat the child kindly and properly, to provide a public school education for at least six months of the year, to teach the child to work and to guard his morals, health and habits until such child should reach 18 years of age.”
February 12, 1912
The Children’s Home governing board voted to buy the Hurlbut Mansion. The state pledged $7,000 toward the purchase and the remaining $7,000 was raised in pledges from individuals, organizations, and most of Idaho’s 10 northern counties.
Matilda Gray, affectionately known as Mother Gray, became the home matron and, during her 19 years on the job, cared for 1,500 children. During her tenure, life at the home was very stable compared to the outside world, which went through the Great Depression and World War II.
Large dormitories gave way to smaller groups living together with a housemother. Two to five children of the same sex shared a bedroom and siblings stayed together whenever possible. The children were encouraged to have contacts outside of the home and to participate in community activities.
The Idaho Child Protection Act transferred responsibility for the care of dependent children to the state. The act mandated that children would be referred to foster homes in their own counties, rather than institutions. The children’s home was forced to change its traditional receiving mission to one of adoption and long-term care.
Mr. and Mrs. George F. Jewett and Potlatch Corporation donated the Jewett’s 22-acre personal residence for a new children’s home. The Jewett Foundation pledged $50,000 for remodeling. Today, this beautiful park-like setting located on a hill above Lewiston includes four homes, an administration building, swimming pool, recreation building and areas for outdoor sports.
The children’s home launched a specialized educational program for its residents and day students referred by local school districts. In partnership with the school districts, the children’s home operates an Education Center in Lewiston.
The Syringa House for girls opened in Nampa. Up to 12 adolescent girls participated in a specialized treatment program.
A larger facility with a capacity for 24 girls was built to replace the original Syringa House.
December 1st 2015
With heavy hearts the Syringa Campus was closed in Nampa Idaho.