Volunteers restore nearly 150-year-old former Children’s Home in Hamilton for reunion event

Some 150 years ago this month, The Children’s Home of Butler County was incorporated to serve poor youth and orphans created by the Civil War.

A couple and many volunteers, helped by generous financial donors, have lovingly restored the children’s home at 425 S. D St., and are inviting two groups of people to visit and celebrate on June 22:

  • From 3-5 p.m. that day, the general public is welcome to the unveiling of an Ohio Historical Marker that will be placed at the site. Research for the marker was performed by Kathleen Stuckey Fox, whose mother was president of the board of trustees from 1950-1969. Kathleen Stuckey Fox also had many relatives — seven on her mother's side and one on her father's — who played major roles with the home through many years.
  • After 6 p.m. the same day, Daryl Gunnarson of New Oaks Community and The Father's House, which have been restoring the property to serve as a resource for families of foster-and adopted children says those organizations will welcome "anybody who has lived or worked in the children's home in the past."

“We’re going to provide a meal for them, and we’re going to have a time of reminiscing, sharing, kind of bringing the past, and then talking about how we’re building into the future,” said Gunnarson, who is leading the restoration with his wife, Roxann Gunnarson.

Former residents and workers who wish to attend can sign up by contacting Kathleen Stuckey Fox at foxks@miamioh.edu, or 513-280-6219. Organizers ask people who know people who were involved with the home to please forward the contact information to them.

According to research by Stuckey Fox, the home first was located on North C Street when five young boys were admitted. By 1875, the home was overcrowded, and it was moved to 425 S. D St. A small hospital later was built on the property, and it still stands. In 1909, with the facility again overcrowded, a dormitory was built to house up to 40 boys. A decade later, a modern swimming pool was built.

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Starting in 1977, the home operated under the name The Miami Valley Children’s Center before closing in 1985 because of a lack of funds.

The Father’s House, which continues to restore buildings on the property, is a faith-based organization that is creating support for Butler County-area families that have adopted, fostered or for people who provide “kinship care” to grandchildren or other children or are relatives.

Part of the vision for The Father’s House is that it should be somewhere that families can relax, talk, play sports or games and relax around a fire pit. It also is a place that foster families can throw parties for free.

The Father’s House has offered some mentoring classes for parents, had some adoption parties and other activities.

Among other things the Gunnarsons want to do is create a 24-hour prayer service for those who need it “because we’ve realized that prayer is the key to these kids getting victory in their lives,” Daryl Gunnarson said. “They’ve been through a lot of struggles.”

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