The Boulevard House reflected the traditions and approach of the Settlement House model in US 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 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, including:
- Monthly salons of art and politics
- Rotating gallery installations
- Community social events
- Community workshops
- Group services
- 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 building that UM developed into residential space and an art gallery, in collaboration with community partners. In 2015, the property 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 Boulevard House creators’ momentum and foundation were leveraged for a new iteration as a “community house,” it is under private, for-profit ownership and not affiliated with either UM or the previous project.