During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, many Americans, especially middle-class Americans, became involved in the Progressive Movement. Progressives generally were affiliated with Protestant churches, and they believed that American society was becoming immoral. They contended that Americans were becoming too concerned with attaining wealth and political power, turning their backs on religion and on their fellow men.
Progressives implemented numerous reforms during the late 1800s and the early 1900s. One of these reforms was the creation of settlement houses. Settlement houses were institutions where immigrants especially could go to seek assistance. Settlement house organizers sought to teach immigrants how to survive and prosper in the United States. They taught the immigrants English, business skills, and about American customs. The settlement houses often provided housing, free meals, and medical care. They also helped organize activities for children and young adults to keep these people out of bars. At the core of the settlement houses' mission was a desire to instill morality in the immigrants. The settlement house organizers emphasized religion in all of their classes, whether the courses were on English, on proper health care habits, or on how to obtain a job.
Settlement houses were located in most major cities. Ohio had numerous settlement houses, including the Goodrich House in Cleveland. Mrs. Samuel Mather and several of her women friends established the Goodrich House to improve living conditions for immigrants and other people living in the inner cities. It was affiliated with the Presbyterian Church. Originally consisting of two camps on the city's outskirts, in 1914, Mather and her colleagues purchased a building on East Sixth Street in downtown Cleveland to expand their services. They pressured the local government to clean the streets. They provided legal aid for poorer Americans, as well as establishing a school for handicapped children. The Goodrich House operators also provided financial assistance to a boy's farm, located outside of the supposedly corrupt and dirty city. Mather and her colleagues hoped that judges would sentence juvenile offenders to the farm rather than to prison with adult criminals. The Goodrich House remained in operation until 1951.