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The purpose of the Ruth M. Smith Center, a National Mission Institution of the United Methodist Women, National Organization, is to minister to the social, educational, emotional, spiritual, and physical needs of dependent children, youth, adults, and families regardless of race, religion, or national origin.

Ruth M. Smith Center's Purpose

1884-1921

The C.H. Smith Home was built in 1884 by a very well known family of Sheffield - the Hortons. Victorian era craftmanship can be found all throughout the mansion, especially the use of a jigsaw, which was a cutting edge invention at the time. The mansion was then purchased by the Smith family in 1901 for $8,000. Today, that equates to around $247,000. Towards the end of 1901, the Smiths eldest daughter, Ruth Margaret, tragically passed away at the age of nine due to rheumatic fever. 


In December of 1921, the home was passed over to the Women's Home Missionary Society of the Erie Conference of the Methodist Church to serve as a children's home in perpetual remembrance of Ruth. Ruth's mother said "Partly because of the constant reminders of our loss, we did not stay in Sheffield. We resettled in Warren to take up a new life in new surroundings. - We felt there was still some happiness to be seen within the walls of this stately home."


After the Home was passed over, The Smith's continued showing their interest by purchasing additional land for the Home, as well as maintaining the buildings and providing supplies through the Smith, Metzger, and Wright Company stores of both Sheffield and Warren.
 

- Vignettes of History; Mrs. Smith, Mother of Ruth

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- Painting of Ruth Margaret Smith

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- Vignettes of History; Mrs. Smith, Mother of Ruth

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1922-1976

Founded in March of 1922, the Ruth Smith Centers first children moved in on April 9th, and a formal dedication was held May 9th, 1923, with 32 children living in the Home. Mrs. R.A. Prescott of Jamestown NY, and Mrs. W.F. Bennett of Warren PA, deserve most of the credit for the early beginnings of the Children's Home, however many people from Sheffield share that credit. Among them are: Mrs. W.J. Small, Mrs. Ida Trenouth, Miss Mary Wood, Mr. C.J. Crary, Reverend W.J. Small, and Dr. R.B. Mervine.

In June of 1932, a new building containing a dining room, kitchen, laundry room, and gym was constructed. The majority of these fund came from the Olmstead family of Ludlow PA. The Cook at the time said, "A new kitchen made my work easier, and it was better for the children who helped me. Of course, the kids enjoyed what seemed like a spacious dining area with a little more elbow room."

The community is super proud of the many youngsters, not the least being the fifteen "Smith boys" who served in WWII, or a Vietnam War hero, John Gertsch, who was the first Warren County Resident to have received the Congressional Medal of Honor.

In the later 60s, children who simply needed good parenting were no longer placed into homes like the Smith Center, and so the Home became a residential treatment center for adolescents with behavior, emotional, educational, and/or psychological problems. 

 Fast forward to 1972, the upper floors of the Mansion were deemed unsafe for housing children, so two new buildings were constructed on the north edge of the property overlooking Memorial Field. A few years later, the large Gymnasium was constructed, which is now the home of the Sheffield YMCA.

- John Gertsch 
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- New Buildings
story by Warren Times 
Observer
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