The History of Susanna Wesley House
The Story of Susanna Wesley House, Incorporated
There are stories behind every building -especially in older, industrial cities like Baltimore whose housing was built around the thriving manufacturing companies in the 1800’s. The Susanna Wesley House is no exception. The two townhouses at 607 and 609 Park Avenue are believed to have been built in 1845 by separate owners. The houses were each sold several times until they were purchased by the Women’s Home Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Since that time, the houses have served women in a variety of capacities.
In 1919, The Women’s Home Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church opened a home for working girls in a rented house on West Fayette Street called Wo-Ho-Mis Lodge. In 1921, they purchased the property at 609 Park Avenue for $17,000 in fee. It was formally opened in January 1922 as a boarding house for working women. In 1925, the property at 607 Park Avenue was purchased and opened in 1926 with 12 women residents. Over the next half century there were name changes, but the mission of helping women remained the same.
In 1993, the properties (then called Park Avenue Lodge) were not being fully utilized, and 609 was partially rented out to another non-profit agency. The building was severely damaged in a fire and 607 suffered smoke and water damage. Two years later, the Board of Directors of the Lodge decided to concentrate on restoring 609 Park Avenue as a transitional home for homeless women and their children. The name was changed again to Susanna Wesley House, Inc., in honor of the mother of John Wesley, the founder of Methodism. By 1999, the building was ready to accept mothers and their children and opened in January of that year. Fifteen mothers and their children occupied the house. All of the meals were served by staff in the dining room, and before and after school care was provided to mothers who were working or in job training.
To date, Susanna Wesley House continues its mission to provide safe housing and access to necessary services for previously homeless women and children. We also seek to expand our work and program capacity, in partnership with service providers who share our vision to positively impact the lives of those in need.