We know from experience. We’re better together.
For over a century, FHH has consistently served as a pillar of our community, fostering connection and helping our neighborhood grow together in pursuit of education, opportunity, and belonging.
Federal Hill House is one of the oldest community centers in Providence, serving as a second home to its neighbors for 132 years. We remain proud of our roots that helped support the basic needs of nearly 40,000 Irish and Italian immigrants. Today we continue to evolve and serve more than 7,500 people each year through education, opportunities, and support across the lifespan of an individual.
Federal Hill House was founded in 1887 by Alida Sprague Whitmarsh. Originally located in the Mt. Pleasant section of Providence, the agency was known as the Mt. Pleasant Working Girls Club (MPWGC). MPWGC’s purpose was to help female immigrants, primarily Irish, assimilate to the American culture by immersing them in social and educational activities. Programs included English classes, immigration support, sewing/domestic skills, and painting.
In the early 1900’s thousands of Italian immigrants settled in the Federal Hill area. Their basic needs were evident and so the agency moved to Atwells Avenue in 1914, changed its name and continued with its original purpose to help the newcomers adjust to their new surroundings, through social and educational programs. The efforts of those programs helped many future leaders in all walks of life.
Frank Caprio, Providence chief municipal judge and former Chairman of the RI Board of Governors, speaks about his mother’s experience with FHH during the height of the depression in 1936. During a time when everyone was in great need for help with finances and healthcare, Judge Caprio says FHH “was a safe refuge for people. It was the safe harbor. It was where they could get some help that they would not get otherwise.”
Ernest DeAngelis, born a block from FHH, recalls spending time at FHH with his cousins and remembers fondly Mr. Zucculo, a mentor, program director, and boxing coach.
“I mean we would be in there trying to knock each other’s block off but after that, after the match was over and Mr. Zucculo, people like him made sure that you treated each other respectfully after. And that’s a lesson in life I guess that everybody could use.”
Much of the history and tradition of the FHH can be attributed to its board, which has held some of the same members for 40 plus years. Even beyond their time on the board, members like Mayor Angel Tavares, continue committed to the success of FHH. Looking back to his 15 years on the board, Angel Tavares still say it’s something he holds dear to his heart. Over the years, and after serving as mayor, he says “I’m realizing that [FHH] is a big cross section of our city and it’s something I’m very, very proud to be associated with.”