In 1940, a group of representatives from Greater Lynn women’s organizations met to discuss the lack of supervised activities during the summer months for girls in the area. Philanthropists, Mr. & Mrs. Eli Cohen of Swampscott, offered their camp in Pembroke, Massachusetts that summer to be used before and after their regular camp season. The venture was supported by every organization in Lynn. The camp program was such a huge success that the community worked day and night to find ways to raise money to support a year-round program for girls.
In 1942 the Lynn Women’s Club formally organized as the Girls Service League. They were able to rent two rooms in the building known as the “Women’s Clubhouse” located at 88 Broad St, downtown Lynn. The main financial support for the League was The Thrift Shop located on Essex Street. The first board of directors was made up of a clergy, a fireman, a policeman, a representative of the mayor, a banker, a lawyer and a merchant. The board members all had a job to do; working as officers, speakers, teachers, fundraisers, and thrift shop workers. Mrs. F. C. Bowers served as the first president of the League.
Through the efforts and hard work of these men and women, the League was able to build new stairways, complete re-wiring, and purchase the building in February 1945. Renovations including a new boiler were required to bring the building up to code. Money was raised through “silver teas”, card parties held at the New Ocean House in Swampscott, rummage sales and a speakers bureau. Furniture, games, books, arts and crafts supplies, sewing machines and materials were donated by merchants and church groups.
The Girls Service League officially became the Girls Club of Lynn that year and joined the Lynn United Fund. In May 1945 the Lynn Club joined the Girls Club of America. The purpose of the Club at that time was to build character, and provide instruction in arts, crafts and domestic sciences to girls.
The Girls Inc. building, located on the corner of Broad and Nahant Streets in Lynn, was designed by female architect Josephine Wright Chapman in 1909 for The Lynn Women’s Club. The building had headquartered women’s organizations until Girls Inc. of Lynn moved to 50 High Street.
In 2002, we embarked on our first-ever Capital Campaign, sold our current buildings and began creating a new kind of headquarters at 50 High Street. Thanks to the commitment and generous support from all of our donors, Girls Inc. moved into its new building in the summer of 2009. The building is located on the site of the first Lynn High School originally erected in 1850.
The historical integrity of the landmark building has been maintained and a 14,000 square foot addition has been flawlessly added to increase the overall space. The facility enabled Girls Inc. of Lynn to expand programming and serve more girls in a safe and supportive, girl-focused environment where girls can get together to be themselves and discover their full potential — and be inspired to be Strong, Smart and Bold!