Editor's Note: This is the 253rd in a series of articles recalling vanished Huntington scenes.
HUNTINGTON — The Huntington Union Mission Settlement was founded in 1914 to care for neglected and orphaned children. At the time, there were no child welfare agencies in Huntington.
Originally located in a building at 2nd Avenue and 8th Street, the Union Mission Settlement provided a kindergarten, day nursery, gymnasium and living quarters for neglected and orphaned infants and young children. In 1917, Mrs. Leslie T. Downey became the mission's superintendent, a post she would hold for decades.
In 1920, Huntington businessman Charles W. Cammack bought a building at 645-47 3rd Ave., and after extensive remodeling the mission moved there. In 1938, the Union Mission became the first child facility in West Virginia to be licensed by the state.
Cammack would serve as president of the mission for nearly 30 years, from 1919 until his death in 1946. While he had a highly successful business career, Cammack said he considered his work with the mission to be his greatest endeavor. On his death, the mission was renamed in his honor.
In 1964, the Charles W. Cammack Children's Center Inc. moved to a new location on West 6th Avenue. Cammack's grandson, well-known amateur golfer William C. Campbell, was a long-time member of the center's board and was instrumental in getting the new facility built.
In 1980, the center began a New Directions campaign that would dramatically expand and change its program. The goal was to create, develop and implement a more treatment-oriented program to help address the growing needs of the children and families the center served. As part of this campaign, the center changed its focus from infants and small children to adolescent youth.
In 2014, the Cammack Center celebrated its 100th anniversary.
Today, the center is a residential facility for youngsters, ages 12 to 17, who need a structured living situation that also provides treatment for their underlying issues. The aim is to develop each child's potential and prepare him or her to return home, to foster care or an independent living setting ready to make a positive contribution to their community.