Thursday, January 7, 2010

Homewood Terrace

1956-1963: HOMEWOOD TERRACE was located at 11 Homewood Terrace, San Francisco, and was an Adoption Agency for Jewish children in San Francisco and the Bay Area.
1968: Address was 2255 Post St; Adoption Agency

1972: There were eight homes, two of the homes were for girls and the rest for boys.
1979: Located at 549 Arguello Blvd., San Francisco, CA 94118; Residential Care for children and Foster placement.
Records were found at Jewish Family and Childrens Services in the 80's by someone who resided there in the early 70's.
Your dates are incorrect. Homewood Terrace was built and started around 1926 and my father was the Asist. Director there from 1945 to 1953. Herbert Leebhoff. The Director was Mr. Boneparte. It was a place of Peace and Love for all the Jewish Children. The Great Founders are listed in a booklet that I have. They were Jewish Business Men and Women who cared about our People.

I was 2 years old when my mother, and father and grandmother moved into the House for the Assist. Director. The address was 41 Homewood Terrace. It was 1945. So many Jewish children, so many memories. Each place where the Children lived were called: Cottages. Each had a live in "House Mother".All meals were cooked in the Cottages for the Children. The Children did the cooking with the House Mother. Just after the war ended hundreds of Jewish Children came from Europe to Homewood Terrace. I remember at age 4, I tried to speak to them and they couldn't speak english. Just Polish and Russian. My father, Herbert Leebhoff, (I had my name changed to David Lee) was on duty 24hrs a day a the Home. He passed away, in 1993. He was 87 years old. The Orphanage was the pride of San Francisco and the Jewish Community. In 1949, my father and other good due'ers thought up a plan to give Orphans homes. It was called: "Foster-Homes" Little did they know that their idea would spell the dome of Orphanages....and Homewood Terrace. The program was given a name: "Jackie". Its seems that this child was the "First" to be placed in a "Trial Foster Home". Little known fact. Lost Fact. But True. My Father, Herbert Leebhoff came up with the idea for "Foster Homes in the United States of America. Never got any credit for it. Again, I will search for the booklet and send you information. David Lee, Fire Fighter, Ret.
I just thought I might make an update to your information on Homewood Terrace in San Francisco. When I was 10 years old (1966) I was placed in Homewood Terrace At that time they were in a group home setting with 8 homes in the Richmond district. I was one of only two non Jewish kids to live there at the time. I also went to their private school which at the time was on the old grounds on Ocean Ave. I look back on those days with great warmth. though we all thought it was the worst place in the world at the time. Of course we were just dumb kids what did we know. I am so thankful that I was at Homewood we were really loved. Yes even us non Jewish kids.
My thanks to all in the Jewish community of San Francisco who made Homewood Terrace a true home for so many for so long. I was so sorry to hear of it's closing after over one hundred years.
Thanks again
Dennis Lehman

I lived at Homewood Terrace on their grounds at Ocean Ave. from 1952, when I was 6 years old until 1963. In 1963, I moved into the first group home for youngsters who were in their last year of high school or who were attending San Francisco City College. That group home was in the Geneva Terrace housing development in Visitacion Valley, but we later moved to 850 32nd Ave in the Richmond District. I left that home in the Spring of 1965. I remember Mr. Herbert Leebhoff very well. He was a great man. A few years after being the Assistant Director, Herbert Leebhoff came back to Homewood Terrace to be the Religious Director. I remember him preparing me for and conducting my Bar Mitzvah. I also vaugely remember his son David, when he lived at Homewood Terrace. I did not know that it was Herbert Leebhoff who came up with the idea of foster homes. I will have some comments on foster homes later.
Homewood Terrace was managed very well during the years that Mr. Benjamin Boneparte was the Director. Unfortunately, the Board of Directors terminated Mr. Boneparte in 1958 and replaced him with Dr. Jack Regal. Before Dr. Regal's administration, more of the the youngsters at Homewood Terrace were either orphans or came from families who simply could not raise their children. Under Dr. Regal delinquents and children who had severe emotional problems were admitted into Homewood Terrace to live with the other youngsters. This was not a good mix. I recall one incident where one of those delinquents assualted a house parent. Dr. Regal ran the home almost like a juvenile hall. Parents, in order to have visits with their children on weekends, had to notify the Homewood Terrace administration by the preceding Wednesday. Some parents who really wanted to have their kids on the weekends, unfortunately forgot to make the call. My father on occasion was one of those. Those of us who attended Abraham Lincoln High School, who wanted to go out with friends whom we met at school, on a Friday evening or on the weekend, also had to notify our house parents by the preceding Wednesday. As someone who later raised a teenager, I can say that a teenager doesn't usually know what they want to do 3 or 4 days ahead of time. Often, youngsters would run away, later to be found. Dr. Regal's response was to put bars on the windows. Around 1961 or 1962, the Board of Directors made a correction and terminated Dr. Regal, and replaced him with Mr. Ralph Ross. Under Mr. Ross conditions greatly improved. The harsh rules imposed by Dr. Regal were lifted. With the exception of what I mentioned about Dr. Regal, I am grateful that I was provided a home by Homewood Terrace. We were fed excellent meals. We were taken on many outings. A few of us, like myself, who enjoyed classical music were sometimes taken to synphony and opera performances at the San Francisco Opera House. The tickets were donated by board or womens auxiliary members. One thing that I must say however, is that while I made a decent life for myself, I wasn't given enough encouragement to get better grades in high school and to go to college.
There is a strong need today for the government to re-establish homes like Homewood Terrace. We constantly see on the news stories about delinquent children getting into trouble. Many end up becoming criminals. I personally saw a home where drug dealing parents had a toddler in their home. We badly need more youth programs. Issues like poverty must be addressed. Parents must be given all of the help necessary for raising their children. However, when parents simply refuse to do a better job, then the children must be taken away and placed into decent homes. Depending on the individual children, some could be placed into group homes in the neighborhoods. Those with more serious problems would be placed into institutions. The house parents in either of those settings must be well paid and compensated, and also be well trained. I am not sure about foster home programs. While there definetely are wonderful foster parents, there are many youngsters who are moved constantly from one home to another. My brother and I were in a foster home for a few months in 1959. The couple whom we were sent to were absolutely not qualified to raise foster children. It seemed that they wanted some youngsters around to pull weeds, mow their lawn, and perform heavy tasks around their home. Needless to say, it didn't work out and we were moved back to Homewood Terrace. The group home arrangement that I mentioned, would be a better solution.
Walter Ballin
Chico, CA

Check out a new book on Homewood Terrace:
War Orphan in San Francisco: Letters Link A Family Scattered by World War II
by Phyllis Mattson


Website with great list of pictures and information

1 comment:

  1. I was placed at Homeward Terrace in 1978. By then it was no longer a orphanage and had merged with Jewish Family Services. I have no fond memories of the place or the myopic and inept social workers or the cold blooded psychiatrists they admired so much. I still think of Nancy M. from time to time. I have no kind thoughts of her, only that she should have listened to me, she should have believed me. She should have been my side. That was though too much to expect. She was after all a very stupid and foolish woman placed in charge of troubled youth.