Women's Civic League Inc. of Rochester formed in 1887. The original members were primarily churchwomen who teamed up to help identify unmet community needs and to initiate programs when none existed.
In 1926, Civic League inherited a large house through the will of the Woodworth sisters, who had been active Civic League members. In 1930, Civic League opened the home as a day nursery for children of working mothers. It occupied only one room on the main floor.
At the time, Civic League's permit stated that not more than 12 children, ages 2 to 5, were to be present at any given time. The custodial care included the giving of orange juice and cod liver oil during morning and afternoon snack times, noon lunch followed by a nap, and supervised free play.
In 1945, Civic League expanded the nursery by adding the use of a second room and enlarging the bathroom. This allowed the program to hold 20 children, ages 3 to 5.
Around 1958, the concept of providing only custodial care for children in daycare was viewed as inappropriate and the requirements for state licensing were raised. Civic League began hiring directors and head teachers who were professionally qualified in education or related fields. A licensed, well-staffed day care center evolved, offering an enriched child-care program.
In 1975, Civic League Day Nursery moved into the historic Balfour Home, where they are proudly located today. The program is licensed to hold 84 children, ages 16 months to 5 years.
Women's Civic League Inc. officially changed to Civic League Day Nursery in 2000 to reflect the board's current charter, which is to set policy and oversee the overall operations of the oldest and best nursery school in Rochester, and to recognize the addition of men to the Board.