Mission and History | Home of the Innocents

There’s nothing people love more than a good comeback story.

Home of the Innocents is the region’s open arms to kids in crisis. We are a community of dedicated people providing the skills and opportunities by which vulnerable children, youth, and their families may improve their lives.

The Home was founded in 1880 by Dr. James Taylor Helm, Episcopalian minister of Christ Church in Louisville. In 1972 we moved to a facility at 505 East Chestnut Street. Soon after, we took over child care programs previously run by the County government and pediatric services formerly provided by the Jewish Home for Convalescent Children.

After more than a century of modest growth, the Home then expanded rapidly between 1995 and 2015.

That expansion was made possible primarily through the creation of the Joan E. Thomas Children’s Village in 2003. The 20-acre village, located in what we now call NuLu, provides sufficient space and amenities to enable the Home to accommodate the needs of our community’s vulnerable children.

As the Home now approaches one-and-a-half centuries of providing care, hope, and love for our society’s most vulnerable; we now offer care and assistance to over 6,000 children and families each year.

The Home has come a long way from its humble beginnings. Yet our mission remains the same.


Home of the Innocents was founded by the Reverend James Taylor Helm, an Episcopal minister, to care for the children of working and destitute mothers. It had space for eight children, and with the support of Sister Emily Cooper, an Episcopalian Deaconess, Reverend Helm provided 20 years of care for Louisville’s children in need.


Following three mergers with other orphanages, the Home moves to its third location at 202 East Chestnut Street. The Home can now provide residential care for up to 18 children.


The Home moves again to 505 East Chestnut Street, in a building designed to house up to 30 children. Services for abused and neglected children, previously supplied by Sunshine Lodge, are integrated into the Home.


The Home merged with the Jewish Convalescent Home for Children at the request of Metro United Way, taking responsibility for its pediatric nursing services. By 1978 expansion of the Home means it could now accommodate 50 children.


Further expansion and successful fundraising means that the Home can provide shelter for 40 children and medical care to another 30.


Gordon Brown is hired by the board of directors to become the Home’s President and CEO. The Home goes into its most rapid and important development phase, which includes implementing the Therapeutic Loving foster Care program and accreditation for the Pediatric Convalescent Center and the Childkind Center in Behavioral Health.


The first building at the Home’s new location on Market Street, Cralle Day House, is opened.


The Joan E. Thomas Children’s Village is completed, moving the Home into its current 20-acre location at the east end of Market Street.


The Joan E. Thomas Children’s Village begins a Phase II expansion to increase its capacity to accommodate 172 children, 96 in residential programs, and 76 in the Pediatric Convalescent Center. 


The Village Pharmacy, the Home’s nonprofit pharmacy, is open to the public. The Home also opens the Kay and Jim Morrissey Advanced Therapy Center. The Center is home to a 92-degree salt water advanced therapy pool that is also open to the public.


The Home opens Open Arms Children’s Health in its newly built Hockensmith Pediatric Assessment Center. The new health clinic includes pediatrics, dental, vision, psychiatry, psychology, audiology, occupational, physical, and speech therapies. The clinic is open to the public.


The board of directors hires Paul W. Robinson as the new President and CEO to move the organization forward in carrying out its mission.

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