William Byrd Community House began in 1900 when Sadie Cabaniss, Nursing School Superintendent at Old Dominion Hospital, organized a nurses settlement house. The first workers included the seven-member nursing class of 1900. On February 14, 1901, an Act to incorporate the Nurses Settlement was approved by the General Assembly of Virginia. In the spring, Miss Cabaniss resigned her post as Superintendent at Old Dominion and joined the Nurses Settlement as its first director.
Over the years, social workers were employed to work with the nurses in the settlement. The Instructive Visiting Nurses’ Association (IVNA) and the social workers were sister organizations making up the Nurses Settlement. In 1923, the two groups decided to separate and form two different organizations. The IVNA continued to work under that name and took the original charter. The social workers continued under the new name of William Byrd Community House. William Byrd Community House was organized under a new charter in 1923.
In 1927, William Byrd Community House became a charter member of the Richmond Area Community Chest and the National Federation of Settlements and Neighborhood Centers, the forerunners of the United Way and The United Neighborhood Centers of America (UNCA). WBCH has maintained close ties with the United Way and the UNCA through the years.
The staff moved into the Grace Arents Free Library on South Cherry Street in 1944 and remains there today. Our service area encompasses the City of Richmond (including the primary neighborhoods of Oregon Hill, Randolph, Maymont, Cary Street, the Fan, Carver and Northside), and the adjacent and surrounding counties of Henrico, Chesterfield, Hanover, New Kent, Goochland, Powhatan and Charles City.