Hilltop Lutheran Neighborhood Center has its roots in the Zion Lutheran Church, which stood at 5th and Jackson Streets until the property was replaced with Interstate 95 in the 1950’s. Determined to retain a caring presence, the congregation purchased 508 N. Van Buren Street and built a small structure as a place of worship and as a new safe haven for children.
In 1961, the Center began to operate as Zion Lutheran Neighborhood House providing activities for children led by volunteers and a meeting place for adults. In 1971, a Child Care Program for infants and preschool children was established with funding from the Model Cities Program. At that time, the Center was licensed for forty children. In 1981, Zion Church deeded the property to the newly incorporated nonprofit agency, Hilltop Lutheran Neighborhood Center. The Board of Directors made up of representatives from the area Lutheran Churches, Hilltop residents and members of the larger community took responsibility for the agency and developed a strategy for growth. A fulltime executive director was hired and the dream of acquiring additional space, adding new programs and becoming a full member United Way agency started to become a reality. Land was purchased on 6th Street and a major addition was completed in 1988.
Reconstruction and expansion of the original site was accomplished in 1994. Hilltop continued to grow in 1996-1997 with the purchase and renovation of two adjacent buildings to accommodate the Early Childhood Assistance Program (ECAP) and parent activities. The completion of this project increased the number of children that the center could enroll to 186. Consistent with the needs of the community, a parent resource center and dedicated space for teenage activities were also an important part of this major project.
In 2000, the property located at 1026 W. 6th Street was purchased as the agency continued to prepare for future growth. In 2004, a 1.5 million dollar renovation and expansion project was completed. The project provided state of the art classrooms that included developmentally appropriate equipment and technology. It also included a 24 hour video surveillance and security system that helps assure that our children are safe. The elevator and handicapped accessible ramp made the entire facility accessible. In 2006 1028 W. 6th Street was purchased and renovated to prepare for future growth and serve as a rental property for the Lutheran Volunteer program until another expansion project is developed.
In 2012, the properties at 1102 and 1104 W. 6th Street were purchased. In 2014, the property at 1106 W. 6th Street was purchased. The purpose of the purchase of these properties was to provide a very much need parking lot for agency staff and parents.
In 2016, the Center achieved the State of Delaware’s highest rating of 5 Stars as a provider of child care services for infant, toddler, preschool and school age children.