She Gave Her House To Help the Poor

Donation by 19th-Century African American Seamstress and Anti-Slavery Activist creates a home for poor women that continues today.

Abolitionist Hannah Gray bequeathed her home to provide a haven for women of color who were economically disadvantaged.

19th-Century African American Seamstress and Anti-Slavery Activist Donated Her Home

Hannah E. Gray was an African American seamstress in the mid-19th century who was active in her church and in the abolitionist movement. Upon her death in 1861, she bequeathed her home on Dixwell Ave. to be used as housing for indigent elderly women of color.

While Gray's original house no longer stands, her vision endures. The present Hannah Gray Home at 235 Dixwell Avenue, accommodates more residents than the original structure and continues in operation in accordance with its founder's goals. The home offers 24-hour supervised care and supportive services for 20 poor elderly residents in the Dixwell and Greater New Haven communities.

The building, acquired in 1911, is included in the Winchester Repeating Arms Company National Register Historic District.

A critical part of the Hannah Gray Home's funding comes from local sources, including designated funds at The Community Foundation, such as the Ella E. Smith Fund and Lulu and William Jones Fund.

For more information about the Hannah Gray Home, visit its profile on

Did You Know?

After the home fell into financial difficulties and closed for a period in the 1990s, it was rescued and reopened when The Community Loan Fund (now Capital for Change) assumed the mortgage.

Want to make a gift that lasts forever? Learn about the power of a bequest.

History Information provided by the Hannah Gray Home Inc.