Idaho History

Booth Home's mission to help young, unwed mothers evolves with the times

The Booth Family Care Center and Marian Pritchett School started in Boise in 1921 as a Rescue Home for unwed mothers and their children. There were, at one point, a number of Booth Homes throughout the United States named after the founder of the Salvation Army, William Booth, and funded primarily through that charitable organization.

The property that Boise's Booth Home sits on was funded by a land donation from Earl C. Arnold in 1921. Arnold donated the land on the condition that the property, or proceeds from it, be used by the Salvation Army for its work in Boise. The original land was sold, and the money from the sale was used to purchase a full city block with the Packenham House on it, which became the site of Boise's first "Rescue Home."

The Home opened in October, 1921 with the goal of sheltering pregnant and unwed mothers and their children, as well as any girl in need of a home. A flyer from 1927 advertising the Home boasted, "Hospital accommodation is furnished, domestic science is taught, erring daughters restored to their homes and mothers, or situations found for them. The girls and their children remain in the Home at least three months, and as much longer as is necessary. They are taught to work, special instruction being given in cooking, plain and fancy sewing, and general housework. The officers keep in touch with the girls after leaving, and they can always count on a welcome at these homes when out of employment or ill."

The name of the Rescue Home has changed and evolved through the years as the mission of the Home has changed. In 1947, the name was changed to Booth Memorial Hospital, but later when the Rescue Home ceased to function as a maternity hospital, the name was changed again from Booth Memorial Hospital to the more familiar Booth Memorial Home.

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, the home added another ministry to the community with the help of the Boise School District. The decision was made that education should be an important part of the "rehabilitation" process. The School District started providing a teacher to teach high school level classes at the home. This new education program helped many girls who would have otherwise dropped out of school to finish their high school education.

As the culture changed to be more accepting of single parents, the mission of the home changed again.

In the summer of 2005, the rescue home stopped housing girls exclusively and began to function as an emergency shelter for families.

The Marian Pritchett School (in the same location) still serves as a high school for pregnant girls and young mothers, offering classes in grades 7-12.