Biographical / Historical
Friends' Home for Children (“Friendly Acres”) was established in 1881 in Philadelphia by Hicksite Quakers. Rebecca Walker was its primary founder and the first teacher. The Home was a residential facility for orphans and other children in need, modeled on a homelike environment rather than the large institutional more typical of the era. Young children, generally between the ages of five and twelve, came under the care of the Home until their situation allowed them to find a permanent home or foster home, or be placed in an apprenticeship or other educational program.
The Home was administered by a Board of Managers which originally was composed entirely of members of the Society of Friends. It was first located in a rented building at 3401 Germantown Avenue. In 1885, it was relocated to 4011 Aspen Street. In 1888, this property was purchased from Mrs. Catherine Wentz, who donated half the purchase price. In 1930, Mrs. Bertha Fullmer donated a farm at Gilbertsville, Montgomery County. This became a summer camp, “Camp Sommerdale,” a summer facility for the children.
In 1947, Friends' Home for Children moved to a location outside of the City, at 900 South Avenue, Secane, in Delaware County. The sale of the Aspen Street property and Camp Sommerdale provided the funds for the purchase of the new facility which was given the name “Friendly Acres.”
While maintaining ties to the Society of Friends, the Home became non-sectarian over the years. As attitudes towards the care of children changed and costs soared, it was decided in 1979 to phase out the residential program, and the name was changed to Friendly Acres Community Services with its mission focused on community programs, such as day care and senior services. In 1988, Friendly Acres Community Services merged with the Community Y of Eastern Delaware County, another community service organization. The merger afforded the building of a new facility on the site, the Ridley Area YMCA, a branch of the Community Y of Eastern Delaware County. With this merger, Friends' Home for Children and its successor, Friendly Acres Community Services, ceased to exist.