In addition to the churches there were other social organizations within the black community which played a significant role in maintaining stability, providing some leadership, and assimilating and socializing newcomers. Lodges such as the Elks, the Freemasons, the Odd Fellows, and the Knights of Pythias grew up in the years before and after the Civil War. The latter two, after long histories plagued with financial disasters and in-fighting among members, became defunct or inactive by 1900. The Freemasons and the Elks flourished. The Elks, located at 204 Goffe Street, and the Grand Prince Hall Lodge of Masons eventually purchased the building which had been the Goffe Street School. Membership in these fraternal orders or in the women’s auxiliaries associated with them provided some insurance and burial benefits, social activity for members, and standing within the community.
For younger men the Negro YMCA provided separate social and recreational activities for a number of years. Originally begun as a religious-ethical discussion group for upstanding young men, it became the Olympian Athletic Club in 1892 and occupied the Goffe Street School. In 1895 it affiliated with the YMCA and became a branch of the central New Haven “Y,” but it withdrew for several years when Negroes were prohibited from using the pool and gymnasium of the newly erected facilities downtown.
In addition to the clubs and churches, there was and still is one settlement house that played an active and vital role in the Dixwell area of the city. The first ideas for the Dixwell Community House came out of the extensive programs for young people sponsored by the Dixwell Avenue Congregational Church. Beginning in 1924-25 many religious groups and individuals, black and white, participated in planning and fund raising for the new institution, which from its beginning was housed in its own building at 98 Dixwell Avenue. Financial backing was initially provided mostly by whites; however, the final fund raising drive to pay off the mortgage was an interracial project completed in 1936. The “Q House” provided recreational and educational activities for as many as 400 members under the age of 18. It sponsored dances, discussions, and even an annual Negro Health Week for a number of years.