Pearl St. Community House

Known Name(s)

Pearl St. Community House


81 Pearl St. (aka 34 Hopkins St.) Waterbury, CT

Establishment Type(s)

Tourist Home

Physical Status


Detailed History

The Pearl Street Neighborhood House was founded in 1923 as a community center for Waterbury's African American population. For the first few decades of operation, the Neighborhood House was run by Leila Theodosia Plummer Alexander, who served as Social Director of the Pearl Street Community Organization. Under her direction, the Neighborhood House rapidly expanded, becoming the center of Waterbury's African American community.

In 1927, the Pearl Street Neighborhood House relocated to a new building on the corner of Pearl and Hopkins streets, where Alexander lived in a small apartment upstairs. According to the Mattatuck Museum, "The Neighborhood house activated their community members into volunteering; fought for better housing, employment, and education; and created a safe space for African American community events, meetings, and entertainment. The Neighborhood House also served recent immigrants with a place to stay while getting on their feet."

The Neighborhood House was listed as a tourist home in The Green Book from 1938 to 1964. As such, the facility would have offered the full range of activities and accommodations for African American travelers. This was particularly important for people passing through or visiting the city, as many hotels in Waterbury were segregated until the 1950s. 

As a community center, the Neighborhood House was also a space for African American Civil Rights advocacy and activism. Alexander was a vocal advocate for positive interracial relations and community building. She sat on the Pearl Street Interracial Committee and served as chairman of the Pearl Street Community Civic League. In 1942, Alexander organized a Waterbury branch of the NAACP out of the Neighborhood House, and two years later the organization also affiliated itself with the Urban League.

In 1970, the Neighborhood House moved to a new facility on Columbia Boulevard, where it operated for about two decades until it was eventually foreclosed on and sold to the Albanian Cultural Center. However, the former Neighborhood House building is still used for communal and cultural events under the Zion Baptist Church's ownership.

Part of the Connecticut Freedom Trail

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