The Boulevard House reflected the traditions and approach of the Settlement House model in U.S. social work. Inspired by England’s Toynbee Hall, the approach was adopted in the United States in the late 1800s by such organizations as Stanton Coit’s Neighborhood Guild (New York’s Lower East Side), Lilian Wald’s Henry Street Settlement (Manhattan) and Jane Addams’ Hull House (Chicago).
The Boulevard House’s mission was to create common ground for community-college collaboration among the host neighborhood, local activists and agencies, and three schools at the University of Michigan: the School of Social Work (SSW); the School of Music, Theater, and Dance (SMTD); and the Penny W. Stamps School of Art and Design (PSSA&D).
It was both a place and a space, and as such, it housed people, events, activities and hopefully movements. Programming was dynamic and unfolding, and included:
Monthly salons of art and politics
Rotating gallery installations
Community social events
Community research and mobilization support
For specific past projects, please view the menu selections under “What.” An archival Facebook page can be viewed here.
It was located at 412 W Grand Blvd, in a rented 2-story house that the UM had developed into residential space and an art gallery, in collaboration with community partners. In 2015, the owner, People’s Community Services, put the house under distress sale. It was purchased by a consultant for the agency who also teaches with the SSW at University of Michigan. Although the momentum and foundation of the Boulevard House were leveraged for a new iteration of a “community house,” it is under private ownership and not affiliated with either the UM or the previous project.