In a message to the Union Progress meeting on the subject: Does Central Avenue Need a Social Settlement House, Mr. Charles W. Chesnutt the eminent author and humanitarian, has this to say: "A social settlement house would be a good thing for the district between Erle and Wilson and Woodland and Cedar and that that is the opinion of the more prominent charity workers in the city. I met one day recently with a committee of the Chamber of Commerce, who were of the same opinion and who said that the Chamber would give its 'card' in such an enterprise. that is, its endorsement of such an institution as a good thing: and several of the gentlemen said they would be willing to contribute to such an enterprise.
"The only difficulty would be one of ways and means. Such a settlement, to fill any large place or compete with counter attractions of a less desirable sort, would cost considerable money. It could not, in the nature of such enterprises, be in any large measure self-sustaining, and must therefore rely upon philanthropy for its pecuniary support, and upon volunteer services for the work of the house after it is once started. The initial step of such an enterprise is to find a man or group of men who will get it started. This is rather a matter for a private conference of interested men than for a large public meeting. One way suggested is to form a small organization among colored men who will guarantee a certain amount to its support, or its support for a certain fraction of a year, and then appeal to the charitable wealthy for the remainder.
"Mr. Strong, of the Chamber of Commerce staff, is very much interested in the idea and would give it some time. Mr. Jackson, of the Associated Charities, and Mr. Bellamy, of Hiram House, are also interested and would be of service in beginning such an enterprise. My own instincts would be against undertaking it as a separate Negro enterprise, but to merely make it a neighborhood settlement, though it might, by virtue of the environment, become practically a colored institution. The gentlemen I mention would encourage it either way and of course it is open to argument whether it might not prosper better as a purely and frankly colored settlement.
"It will take, I imagine, some little time to formulate a plan, but it is well worth considering and working up. An institution run on the lines of Hiram or Goodrich House, or ever on a more modest plan, would be a much to be desired resort for children and young people who now often do not know what to do with themselves and are therefore exposed to temptations which lead them into dangerous paths. It would also supplement the church and Sunday school in moral training and furnish instruction in useful acts, as well as cheerful and wholesome amusements. It to a good thing and should be worked up."Yours Sincerely, CHARLES W. CHESNUTT.