In the year 1868, a charity organization known as the Ladies Benevolent Society formed the “Haven of Rest”. Renamed “Home for the Friendless” later that same year, the Home was intended to house and care for needy women of Schenectady with no remaining family or friends to whom they could turn. The first house for these women still stands today at 237 Green Street, but the need for more space caused the Home to move in 1905 to its current location at 1519 Union Street.
The Home was brought to life through the hard work and contributions of many well-known families from Schenectady including the Vedders and the Mynderses. Among the primary movers in establishing this safe haven for women were Urania Nott, third wife of the former Union College President, Eliphalet Nott; and Cordelia Crane, wife of the prominent businessman, Jonas H. Crane. These women served as Directresses of the Home upon its opening in 1868, and shortly after opening, they welcomed their first resident, a young widow by the name of Sarah Jane Clark. Since Clark’s admittance into the “Home for the Friendless”, the Home has grown considerably in size, and even after moving to the larger building on Union Street, the Home maintained a waiting list.
The Home was able to move to its current location through the help of a large donation from Mrs. J.W. Smitley. Deciding that a new image called for a new name (and partly upon the insistence of Mrs. Smitely), the “Home for the Friendless” became the “Old Ladies’ Home.” This name changed once again in 1968, one hundred years after the Home’s establishment, and became the “Heritage Home for Women” as it is known today. The Heritage Home now houses 36 female residents.