Our History

Life in Duluth in the 1880’s was rugged. From 1881 to 1886, the population swelled from 3,400 to 26,000. As thousands flocked to the region, many found themselves in need with no where to turn. Concerned for these families, Mrs. Sarah Stearns (below) formed the “Ladies Relief Society” in the back of Mrs. I.W. Fogelson’s Fancy Goods Shop on East Superior Street. She was concerned about young women left alone in this pioneer community, many with babies, no means of livelihood, and no families to care for them. The Society also trained and found employment for the young mothers and while they were at work their children were educated. In 1885, the shelter was moved to a new location at 1530 West Superior Street at Rice’s Point and became formally known as the “Home for Women and Children”.

In 1887, the “Duluth Home Society” was incorporated and the home was moved again to still larger and better quarters. Judge Stearns and Judge Ensigns had donated a lot where the new home was erected. The location was on East Superior Street between what is now 17th and 18th Avenues East.

In 1904 the organization became known as the “Children’s Home Society” of Duluth and constructed a new home at the cost of $35,000. This home was located at 1515 East Fifth Street (pictured below). The home was so modern, reads one account, that it had both gas and electric lights. While previous homes had also served to shelter women, this structure was designed for children only. For 50 years the home served its purpose and after careful evaluation a decision was made by the Society to serve children with problems of an emotional origin. A new home, Northwood, was constructed and ready for occupancy in 1956.

Over the years the organization has changed its name, but has always maintained its mission – providing help to children and their families.

We’re Caring for Children

Northwood Children’s Services provides professional care, education, and treatment for boys and girls with emotional, behavioral, and learning disabilities.

Learn how you can help...