Howard Center Early History

The Home for Destitute Children

A forerunner to Howard Center today, the Home for Destitute Children was founded in 1865 first at 447 Main Street in Burlington, then on Winooski Avenue, and later at the current site of Price Chopper/Market 32 on Shelburne Road along Home Avenue which is said to have taken its name from the Home for Destitute Children. The organization was founded to provide a home for orphaned daughters of Civil War veterans. It soon expanded to serve neglected and destitute children and orphans.

Dr. Meghan Cope, a Professor of Geography at the University of Vermont and her research team included the home and some of the children who lived there in her Mapping American Childhoods project. Dr Cope’s research team has transcribed and cataloged logbook information for over 1700 unique children who lived at the Home for Destitute Children from 1899-1941.

Read more about Howard Center’s early history from Professor Meghan Cope, PhD >>

Lakeview Cemetery Restoration

Over 150 years after the Home for Destitute Children was founded, Howard Center announced a partnership with Vermont Old Cemetery Association (VOCA) to complete a restoration at Lakeview Cemetery to restore and reset children’s gravestone markers who lived at the Home for Destitute Children in the late 1800s. The gravestone markers in the cemetery plot were donated in part by Louisa Howard, a local and generous benefactor in the 1800s, who also donated the Louisa Howard Chapel in Lakeview Cemetery to the City of Burlington.

A combined group of a dozen volunteers from both organizations completed the restoration in September of 2022.

“We are so pleased to have the opportunity to honor the children’s memory in this way,” said Bob Bick, Howard Center’s CEO.

VOCA was founded in 1958 to encourage the restoration and preservation of neglected and abandoned cemeteries in the State of Vermont. The organization has completed over a dozen projects this year.

“Our members are so pleased to be able to work with Howard Center to complete this restoration. It’s always an honor to do this work and especially meaningful to revitalize children’s memorials,” said VOCA President, Tom Giffin.

Today, Howard Center is Vermont’s largest designated agency and provides community-based mental health, substance use, and developmental services in Chittenden County and in several other counties in Vermont. The Home for Destitute Children represents a cornerstone of Howard Center’s history.