Our History

Lighthouse Guild was officially formed in December 2013 when Jewish Guild Healthcare and Lighthouse International merged, to become the leading not-for-profit vision + healthcare organization. Drawing on more than 200 years of combined service, with histories dating back to 1914 and 1905, respectively, Lighthouse Guild’s experience is unmatched. We invite you to learn more about our history of dedicated service in our timeline below.

1905 Winifred and Edith Holt, two sisters, found The Lighthouse, which quickly becomes a pioneer in the field of vision rehabilitation. A year later, it’s officially incorporated as The New York Association for the Blind Inc. and begins providing counseling and instruction.
1913 The Filomen M. D’Agostino Greenberg Music School opens its doors. Today it still stands proudly as the only community music school in the country for people who are blind or visually impaired.
1914 The first formal meeting of the New York Guild for the Jewish Blind is held. The organization begins providing care and support for blind children, and improving physical, mental, and economic conditions for blind adults.
1919 The Guild opens a home in Yonkers to care for blind children. In the years following, a cottage for blind women and an annex for blind men are added to the home.
1923 More than a decade after opening the first Lighthouse camp for visually impaired children, River Lighthouse, a second summer program launches with the opening of Camp Munger.
1935 The Guild opens the Braille Library, which will go on to become famous for transcribing textbooks for blind children.
1951 The Guild School opens its doors providing education and therapeutic services for children age 5-21 from the metropolitan area who are blind, visually impaired or deaf/blind, and with additional disabilities.
1952 The Lighthouse forges an affiliation with the Ophthalmology Foundation, which begins conducting first-of-its-kind blindness research for the organization.
1960 The New York Guild for the Jewish Blind is renamed The Jewish Guild for the Blind to reflect its non-sectarian status.
1961 The Guild opens its psychiatric clinic – the first to specialize in blindness – which continues to improve people’s lives today, and remains the only multi-disciplinary psychiatric clinic of its kind in the country.
1967 The Lighthouse opens a child development center. Operating today as The Ethel and Samuel J. LeFrak School, the universal pre-K program educates visually impaired children alongside their sighted peers.
1971 The Guild opened the Estelle R. Newman City Center at 15 West 65th Street in Manhattan.
1975 The first American Medical Association-accredited professional training program in low vision care is established at The Lighthouse.
1981 The Pisart Award is inaugurated to recognize a person who has made a noteworthy contribution to the prevention, cure or treatment of severe vision impairment or blindness.
1984 GuildCare, the Guild’s Adult Day Health Care Program, opens at the Guild Home and in the Bronx.
1989 The Guild’s Elizabeth L. Newman Preschool opens in Manhattan.The New York Association for the Blind Inc. officially becomes known as The Lighthouse Inc. to reflect the deep philosophical shift embraced by the organization to define people for their potential rather than disability.
1990 The Guild opens its Day Treatment Program to serve people who are visually impaired, hearing impaired and multi-disabled.
1994 The Guild opens the Diagnostic Treatment Center at the 65th Street location, offering medical, diabetes and low vision rehabilitation services.
1996 The Guild and Bascom Palmer Eye Institute of the University of Miami School of Medicine complete plans for Lois Pope Jewish Guild for the Blind Low Vision Center located in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.
1997 The Guild establishes GuildNet, a managed long-term care program.
1998 The Lighthouse Inc. becomes Lighthouse International in recognition of its outreach on behalf of people worldwide who are visually impaired.The Guild’s Assistive Technology Center opens at the 65th Street location.
2000 Sightcare, the Guild’s program to educate caregivers for blind and visually impaired people, commences training.
2001 Lighthouse International inaugurates The Henry Grunwald Award for Public Service and names Grunwald its first recipient for his significant contributions in raising public awareness of vision impairment.
2003 The Guild awards the first Alfred W. Bressler Prize in Vision Science, a prize given to a professional who’s made important advancements in the treatment of eye disease or rehabilitation of persons with vision loss, to Richard A. Lewis, MD, MS.
2004 The national GuildScholar Program begins, which awards scholarships to help legally blind young adults successfully transition to college, to support their post-graduate education, and to facilitate career development.
2006 The Guild’s Children’s Vision Health program starts. It’s the first national tele-support group for parents of children with vision impairments.
2013 Jewish Guild Healthcare and Lighthouse International announce plans to combine as one organization.
2014 Lighthouse Guild officially launches, integrating vision + healthcare services and expanding access through education and awareness.