Della C. Lamb

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She is said to have belonged to the "silk stocking set," but Della Cochrane Lamb spent most of her life working with those less fortunate than herself.

When Della was a young girl, the Cochrane family moved from Illinois to the Northeast section of Kansas City. She later married a former city police commissioner, Fred Lamb, who died in an auto accident in 1937.

Della began channeling her abundant energy and talent into community service in 1897, when she was still a teenager. That year, Melrose Methodist Church Auxiliary opened a day nursery on Fifth Street. One of the first day care centers in Kansas City, it looked after the children of immigrant north side families so that their mothers could work. When the Fifth Street nursery evolved into the Institutional Neighborhood House in1906, Lamb became president of its board of directors. She remained president for 27 years.

The Institutional Neighborhood House, located at 702 Admiral Blvd., served neglected children referred there by the juvenile court. The 20-room structure housed one of the city's first public gymnasiums, a mothers' clubroom, a dining room, and a playroom. Community members flocked there to take advantage of such programs as a kindergarten, a sewing school, a night school, and summer ice service.

In 1946 the Neighborhood House was renamed the Della C. Lamb Neighborhood House in honor of Lamb’s decades of service. It was said of her: "She loved them all, the mothers’ club, the youths, the Boys Scouts, and especially the little children." She continued to volunteer at the center until her death in 1951.

The original Della C. Lamb Neighborhood House was razed in the early 1960s. The same year, the current building bearing her name was erected at 500 Woodland, continuing her legacy of service to this day.

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A version of this article previously appeared at http://www.kchistory.org/content/biography-della-c-lamb-c1877-1951-child...

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