United Charities Building

Illustration of the United Charities Building

The story of this building starts with an unlikely Glaswegian, John S. Kennedy, who rose from a poor family to become one of the wealthiest men in America. In 1893 he gifted the United Charites Building to the great charities of New York in the belief that “intimate contact inevitably promotes cooperation” (we are not sure marriage guidance counselors would necessarily agree…).

The story starts with a man but is powered on by a succession of amazing women.  Amongst those who used the building as a nerve center to tackle the gravest issues of the day were Josephine Shaw Lowell, Florence Kelley, Elizabeth Milbank Anderson and Mary Richmond.  And Jane Addams, the first American woman awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. 

Adorned with 26-foot-high ceilings, stained glass windows and magnificent archways, the building’s beating heart was the Assembly Room, which we are now lucky enough to call home. It’s a real pleasure to be able to re-open this important room, which has been closed off from public view for decades, to the people of New York.