Social worker Jane Edna Hunter established the Phillis Wheatley Association - originally named the Working Girls Home Association - in 1911 to provide support and a safe place to stay for young, unmarried African-American girls who had recently arrived in Cleveland from the South. The Association started as only a small boarding house, but thanks to charitable contributions it soon expanded. In 1927, it built the 9-story Emeritus House at 4450 Cedar Avenue where it is still located. The Association's activities expanded, too, with the opening of a daycare center, the Sutphen School of Music, and Camp Mueller during the 1930s.
Gradually, the Phillis Wheatley Association shifted its role, aiming its uplift efforts at not just young women, but rather the entire African-American community. The Emeritus House became a widely used community center and a prime spot for social gatherings. The Association also began programs and services especially designed to appeal to youngsters and the elderly. Today, the Phillis Wheatley Association continues to play a key role in the community, providing social services and support to a large number of Clevelanders.