With a rent payment of $90 borrowed from a friend, Flanagan opened his first boys’ home on December 12, 1917 in an old Victorian mansion. Flanagan’s archbishop allowed Flanagan to focus on the boys’ home and assigned nuns to help him.
The first five boys were homeless newsboys, wards of the court. Many other boys followed, also sent by the court. However, there were others who came on their own as well.
This first home was quickly filled with 50 boys, and Father Flanagan had to turn many others away. Father Flanagan knew the need was much greater than this house could hold. In 1918, they moved to a much larger home called the German American Home. One hundred and fifty boys could live in this new home. Father Flanagan now had room to pursue education with the boys, something he knew was very important to their success. Father Flanagan and the nuns would teach in the parlors (living rooms) of the home.
Newsboys sold issues and subscriptions of Father Flanagan’s Boy’s Home Journal, which was published once a month at the cost of 10¢ per issue. The Journal had news about the boys’ activities as well as recipes, jokes, and home remedies, along with a column written by Father Flanagan.