In the aftermath of the Civil War, Americans began to address the plight of the many orphans it produced. Elizabeth Sinzich, an Evansville resident, discovered two homeless boys near the riverfront in 1866 and found them temporary shelter in a private residence on Mulberry Street.
When more orphans were found, the children were soon moved to a larger house at the corner of Sixth and Mary streets. After the group incorporated in 1871, county commissioners purchased the spacious home of Dr. John Laval (pictured here c. 1900), who resided on West Indiana Street in what was then the suburbs. Perched on a hill surrounded by twenty acres, the property, which was called Hillcrest, became the permanent home for local children in need.