During its century-long history, the Lighthouse, located in the Kensington section of Philadelphia, has served as a settlement house, benevolent organization, library, nursery, restaurant, and recreation center. The origins of the Lighthouse began in 1893 with Esther Kelly using two rooms at Episcopal Hospital in Kensington twice a week to conduct Bible classes. Kelly had more in mind than teaching the Bible, for her primary concern was to provide an alternative to the saloons.


The Lighthouse soon focused much of its attention toward social clubs and recreation. By the opening decades of the twentieth century, the Lighthouse was operating successful clubs for boys, girls, men, and women. The boys and girls clubs in particular flourished until the 1990s when enrollment declined. Since its inception, the Lighthouse has adapted to the changing needs of the community it serves and continues to provide recreational and social services for the neighborhood