Hering House, 726 West Western Avenue
For nearly 40 years, the Hering House provided recreation, arts, leadership training and a sense of belonging to generations of Black youth.
Frank Hering coached the University of Notre Dame’s football program prior to the hiring of Knute Rockne. He and his wife Claribel Hering acquired the Church of Christ, Scientist building, moved it, and then donated it to the city's Black community.
[CRHC.HERING.056] Hering House records, Civil Rights Heritage Center Collections, Indiana University South Bend Archives.
Similar to Jane Adams’ Hull House, this was part of the Settlement House movement in which college graduates brought visual arts, music, and social services to urban and immigrant neighborhoods. Yet, their gifts came with strings. The Herings required the Board of Directors to be majority white—nine out of twelve members. This intentional barrier to Black leadership remained until 1951.
Despite this, Hering House became a popular center of cultural activity. The H.T. Burleigh Music Association, founded by Josephine Curtis, presented annual spring operas and fall concerts. Teachers ran early childhood programs, after-school athletic clubs, mother-daughter and father-son bonding activities, and more.
As segregation in South Bend ended in many areas, former whites-only places like the YMCA made a separate facility like Hering House unnecessary. Hering House struggled to keep their members, and by 1963, they closed.