Telling the Story of Our Tradition of Excellence 

Before the turn of the 20th century, before the horseless carriage traveled American roads or the flying machine took flight, Columbus Early Learning Centers had its origins. In December 1886, “a meeting was held in the chapel of the First Presbyterian Church to discuss plans and purposes … to extend a helping hand … to those of our toiling sisters dependent upon their own exertion for their daily bread.”

Those plans and purposes became reality when on January 23, 1887 two children were provided with child care services at 65 S. Fourth St. by The Women’s Educational and Industrial Union. This group decided to “set one room aside for the day nursery” to fulfill their purpose of the “advancement of working women.”

During the first year of operation 11 children were served. Families with one child paid five cents per day; those with three children were given a discount at twelve cents per day. Children as young as three months were cared for in the day nursery. Health, safety, recreation, education and a loving home atmosphere were essentials of the program.

Each Columbus Early Learning Center was created by dedicated members of our community and has a unique place in the history of Columbus. Among the oldest early care and education programs in the country, we continue to be devoted to nurturing and educating young children of low-income families.

1887 – Day Nursery opens at 65 S. Fourth St.

1892 – Day Nursery moves to 266 Oak Street

1904 – Ohio Ave. Day Nursery opens at 162 N. Ohio Ave.

1910 – Northside Day Nursery opens

1917 – Ohio Ave. Day Nursery building erected through the Tuttle Fund, a legacy from Miss Catherine Tuttle 

1923 – Mrs. William A. Miller donates land and funding for the Northside Day Nursery at 94 E. Third Ave.

1927 – Mrs. William A. Miller donates three plots of land and funding for the Westside Day Nursery at 40 N.Grubb St.

1934 – Incorporation of Westside and Ohio Ave. Day Nurseries

1935 – Mrs. Harry P. Wolfe leads a capital campaign to erect a building “that will adequately take care of desired expansion owing to crowded conditions at the Westside Day Nursery”

1937 – Mary Miller Lodge completed at Westside Day Nursery

1945 – First Executive Director, Mrs. Avery Clinger, employed

1954 – Three-level addition completed at Ohio Ave. Day Nursery

1957 – First social worker employed

1987 – Westside and Ohio Ave. Day Nurseries becomes Westside-Eastside Child Care Centers Association

1992 – Broad St. Infant and Toddler Center opened in Broad St. Presbyterian Church

2006 – Broad St. Infant and Toddler Center merges with Westside-Eastside Child Care Centers Association

2007 – Northside Child Development Center and Westside-Eastside Child Care Centers Association merge and form Columbus Early Learning Centers

2013 – Northside and Westside Centers close in order to build a sustainable future for CELC

2014 – Eastside Center moves to new location at 240 N Champion Ave.

Building on our rich legacy of service, Columbus Early Learning Centers continues to respond to the needs of our community and envisions a bright future of success for our children and their families.