DescriptionThe National Catholic War Council established the Merrick House Social Settlement in 1919 in part to "Americanize" immigrants, emphasizing middle-class social and cultural values as the basis for citizenship. By this time, Tremont had changed a good deal from its original 1850s inception as the wealthy enclave of "University Heights." In the post-Civil War period, European immigrants flocked to the area, finding work in booming factories and steel mills nearby. Many of these immigrants faced dire poverty and a tough adjustment to American society.
Reformers in England and the US began opening settlement houses like Merrick during the late 19th-century in response to the struggles faced by the urban poor. Since its opening in 1919, Merrick House has indeed served the needs of the neighborhood's families, aiding many in their adjustment to America and providing badly-needed services to those struggling to make ends meet. It has also acted as a community center, holding educational, cultural, and recreational programs year-round for people of all ages.
As Tremont continues to change, so does the Merrick House. In the 1950s, it moved into new facilities and, with the arrival of Puerto Rican immigrants to the area, began offering Spanish-speaking programs. In 1979, Merrick House founded the non-profit Tremont West Development Corporation, which has played a significant part in the neighborhood's recent revitalization.