Elmira Federation for Social Service helped children’s health and more

Lena Weib

The Federation Farm was at 1031 Hoffman St., facing Hart Street. Originally, it was the old home of J.R. and David Conklin, dating back to the early 1880’s. 

The Elmira Federation for Social Service purchased the property in 1917 and opened it as a “home for children who were in danger of contracting tuberculosis because of lack of proper nourishment or inability of parents to furnish them with proper care … the age limit of the Farm is six to twelve years. The children are allowed to remain at the farm for an indefinite period or as long as the physician thinks necessary” (Star-Gazette, Oct. 17, 1926).

The Sunday Telegram of May 29, 1927 reported, “Any Elmiran will find an hour spent at the Federation Farm a liberal education in childhood and a revelation in the gentle art of doing something remarkable on next to nothing. First of all will come the discovery it is not an ‘institootion’ as the late Mr. Dooley used to say, but a home in every sense of the word. Mrs. Louise Terry, the presiding officer is not a ‘matron’ in any sense but a real mother, and while the youngsters call her ‘aunty’ they speak the word with a wealth of tenderness that conveys a meaning all its own. It may prove a surprise to discover the 18 bright faced youngsters are not ‘inmates’ but members of a family not dominated but led, not subjected to rigid rules but urged to be natural with the same limitations found in any Elmira home.”

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