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Lutheran Family Services of Virginia > Our Timeline

LCHS History Timeline

1887 The Rev. S. McClanahan begins to work on establishing a Lutheran orphanage. He takes three children into his home

1887 St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Roanoke gives the first gift for $100

1888 Orphanage is incorporated as South View Orphan Home

1888 Rev. McClanahan is elected as the Home’s first superintendent

1890 There are 18 children in the Home; half are not of Lutheran parentage

1892-95 Local Roanoke businessman Peyton L. Terry allows the home to use a brick dwelling on 17 acres that he owns while negotiations continue for its purchase by the Home’s trustees.

1893 Rev. McClanahan resigns as superintendent and advises the Board to find “a noble and motherly woman” to take his place. Dr. F.V.N. Painter, a member of the executive committee is selected as non-resident superintendent and Mrs. Amanda Davidson is hired as Matron of the Home.

1895 The United Synod of the South recognizes the Home as one of its institutions and the name is changed to the Lutheran Orphan Home of the South.

1895 Peyton Terry loses his fortune in the depression of 1895, and the property used by the home passes from his hands. The Trustee purchase a “substantial” brick building and five acres in Salem for $1,500.

1896 The Home moves to its new location.

1897 The Home now houses more than 25 children; Mrs. Davidson and Dr. Painter resign so that the Board may call a full-time superintendent.

1897 Rev. Benjamin W. Cronk and his wife are hired as superintendent and matron.

1898 The Home establishes a grammar school. By 1907 the Home offers two grades, grammar and primary.

1899 A loan from Roanoke College makes it possible for the trustees to purchase the 80-room Hotel Salem on three acres for $14,500.

1899 The Home establishes a printing office.

1900 The Home starts printing a small paper called the Messenger.

1904 The United Synod takes on the debt and pledges to raise funds to pay it off.

1904 Rev. Cronk resigns.

1904 Professor John T. Crabtree, an orphan himself at the age of eight, is hired for $50 a month and serves as superintendent until his death in 1922.

1904 Electric lights are installed and floors are covered with linoleum to prevent children from getting splinters in their feet.

1906 The home receives a 15,000 bequest from the Cover estate.

1912 More than 100 children live at the Home, which is now at full capacity.

1912 The Board of Trustees starts a building fund when “nine little girls of the Home” contribute their savings to the project.

1916 The trustees buy land surrounding the Home and by 1918 the Home has 83 acres.

1918 During the great flu epidemic, 86 children came down with the disease with 79 being in bed at one time. Everyone recovers.

1922 Professor Crabtree dies and his assistant the Rev. E.W. Leslie is appointed Superintendent.

1922 The Home begins negotiating for the purchase of land owned by Roanoke College and the site of a Lutheran School for Girls, the main building of which had burned down. The Virginia Synod decided not to rebuild.

1924 Mr. George Santmiers becomes the Home’s sixth superintendent for $2,400 a year. A campaign to purchase the property begins.

1925-26 The new buildings are completed and named after two superintendents (McClanahan and Crabtree Cottages) and two board members Markely and Kime. The final cost of the buildings is $190,000 and equipment is $8,000.

1926 Mr. Santmiers resigns as superintendent. The Rev. Paul Sieg is hired.

1926 All children above the sixth grade are sent to public schools.

1927 Dr. Sieg resigns and The Rev. Turner Ashby Graves is hired.

1928 Three additional buildings are proposed – a new home for the Superintendent, a new dairy barn and a building for fruit and vegetable storage.

1929 The Board appoints Mr. D.C. Lionberger as chairman of the new project and work begins.

1929 The financial situation of the Home remains precarious. More than $1,200 has to be borrowed from the endowment to pay expenses; in 1930 another $1,000 has to be borrowed.

1932-33 The Home reaches its largest enrollment of its history (144 children in 1932) with the depression at its peak. All salaries were cut and several staff positions eliminated in an effort to reduce costs. There is a waiting list of children.

1933 The Home experiences epidemics of measles, flu and scarlet fever.

1935 All children now attend public school and the Home’s school is discontinued.

1930s The Home receives an unusual number of complaints about the care of the children, especially their having to work so hard. During the Depression, the Home has a minimum staff and the children were compelled to do most of the work on the farm and in the kitchen.

1938 Rev. Graves resigns as Superintendent.

1939 Mr. T.C. Rorhbaugh is hired as Superintendent and starts an ambitious improvement program for the Home’s facilities.

WWII years. The Home struggles through but sees a marked change for the better in the latter part of the 1940s due to a large number of bequests.

Late 1940s The Home makes improvements in the physical plant, including modernizing the kitchen and building new homes for the assistant superintendent and the farm manager.

1948 The name of the Home changes to the Lutheran Children’s Home of the South.

1949 Contributions to the Home for current expenses exceeded $50,000 for the first time in its history.

1949 The Home hires a case worker to set up foster home plan.

1949 The Whisnant Education Fund was established through two generous gifts to the Home to give financial aid to children who wanted to pursue a higher education.

1956 The home starts “Mother’s Aid” program to give financial aid to mothers so that they may keep their children in the family home rather then send them to the Children’s Home. This was first proposed by Superintendent Rorhbaugh in 1939!

1956 The Home enrolls in the Group Children Care Project, sponsored by the Southeastern Conference of workers in Children’s Homes and the School of Social Work of the University of North Carolina. It offers consultation and training for staff members.

1957 The Homes Future Planning Committee recommends that the Home curtail its farming operation and dispose of half of its property.

1960 The dairy herd and dairy equipment are sold for $6,685.92. Some of the proceeds are used to buy 18 head of cattle for Home use.

1960 Mr. Rorhbaugh resigns as Superintendent and Bruce Wilds is tapped to become the Home’s tenth Superintendent.

1962 The Home sells 3.41 acres to the Taylor Masonic Lodge of Salem for $17.050.

1962 The Home builds a parking lot and a tennis/basketball court.

1963 Mr. Roy Henrickson is hired as assistant superintendent, becoming Superintendent upon the resignation of Mr. Wilds in the mid 60s.

1963 The Home celebrates its 75th anniversary.

Mid 60s. The four cottages are renovated at a cost of $200,000 and a new and modern recreation and manual arts building is built for another $200,000 paid for in part by the sale of 73 acres to the city of Salem for a civic center.

The Florida Synod withdraws as a partner as do South Carolina and the Southeastern Synods five years later.

1968-69 The Home adopts a new statement of function and purpose which reveals the emerging concern for the entire family, the communities in which they are located and the need to extend the ministry to them as both servants and advocates.

1970s Numerous bequests make possible the renovation of the administration building

1975 Lutheran Family Services of North Carolina is started with a $35,000 from the LCHS Board.

Work on the Salem campus enlarges to include more comprehensive programs for families as well as residential treatment.

1976 Mr. Henrickson retires and Donald Gress, child care director of the Home was appointed as acting Executive Director.

1978 Mr. Ronald Herring is hired as Executive Director.

1980 The North Carolina Synod withdraws from the LCHS. With the Virginia Synod becoming the sole owner and operator of the Children’s Home in 1981.

1980s to the present

In the 1980s to adapt to the changing needs of children and families, the Children’s Home incorporated Lutheran Family Services of Virginia to provide an array of social services, and Minnick Education Center, a separate corporation to educate children on campus and in the community with special needs.

Today, the skilled and compassionate staff of Lutheran Family Services of Virginia works alongside the people we serve to help them live abundant lives. We offer services to keep families strong and intact; help children at four Minnick Schools find success in the classroom, at home and the community; seek healthy family living and permanence for children through foster care and adoption; help adults with disabilities live with dignity and grace in their communities; and provide assistance and support to older adults, their caregivers and to those who are grieving.

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open to all.