In the late 1970s, five Sisters of St. Joseph, Jane Morrissey, Kathleen O’Connor, Cathy Homrok, Joan Roche and Eileen Witkop moved into the North End of Springfield on Huntington Street, one block North of Sheldon Street. Noticing the poverty and the needs of their neighbors, they dreamed of turning an abandoned home on the next street into a neighborhood center to help those around them who were struggling. Together, along with one lay person, Julie James, they purchased 22 Sheldon Street. For two years, they and countless volunteers renovated the 17 room house. On April 23, 1984, they moved into the second and third floors of the gray house as work continued on the first floor. In October of that same year, the founders opened The Gray House and began to provide services to meet the civic, social and educational needs of their neighbors.
The Gray House continues to help people meet their immediate needs and address the root causes of poverty by operating a food assistance program, Adult Education Program and Kids’ Club. With a poverty rate that exceeds 45%, the North End is one of Springfield’s poorest sections and one of the poorest in the state. As poverty became a city-wide problem, The Gray House stretched its service boundary and now serves people from all neighborhoods in Springfield as well as surrounding cities and towns.