About Us


A Historical Overview of Curative

Curative Began Offering Services in 1919


Elizabeth Upham Davis (left) founded Curative on May 12, 1919. During its first year of operation, Curative provided 240 treatments to 28 pediatric patients.

Curative has grown from being housed in a one-room cottage to a comprehensive human services organization offering programs and services at multiple community-based sites throughout Milwaukee and Waukesha Counties.

Curative was founded on May 12, 1919 when Elizabeth Upham Davis and the Junior League started the Curative Workshop for restoration therapy. Davis' vision to provide what is known today as occupational therapy grew from treating first children, and later adults, in a small cottage. On April 9, 1931, the Junior League turned the project over to the community and the Curative Workshop of Milwaukee became an incorporated, not-for-profit agency.

During its history, Curative accomplished the following milestones:

  • 1919 - The Junior League Curative Workshop is founded. Junior League member Elizabeth Upham Davis, inspired by her exposure to rehabilitation work in World War I military hospitals, begins an effort to rehabilitate children with severe disabilities. Twenty-six children are served in a one-room cottage on the grounds of Columbia Hospital.
  • 1920 - Physical therapy services are added, and treatment expands to include adults as well as children.
  • 1923 - Cramped quarters lead to a larger location at 461 N. Milwaukee Street in downtown Milwaukee. A toy store is opened to raise money.
  • 1925 - Continued growth prompts a move to larger quarters at 454 N. Jackson Street.
  • 1926 - An affiliation begins with the predecessor of today’s United Way, with their $7,500 gift contributing toward an annual budget of $15,616.
  • 1928 - A clinic for children with speech problems is founded. A $1,500 gift from the Junior League makes it possible to add a home service program for homebound patients.
  • 1931 - The Junior League prompts the incorporation of Curative Workshop of Milwaukee, an independent organization with its own board of directors.
  • 1936 - Miss Marjorie Taylor, OTR, is engaged as a full-time executive director. Using experience gained as a “reconstruction aide” during World War I, she joins Curative after serving as director of the Occupational Therapy program at Milwaukee-Downer College. When she joins the organization, a staff of six serves 15 to 20 patients a day in three small rooms. A nursery school is added for children with cerebral palsy and other severe disabilities, the first of its kind in the United States.
  • 1937 - Social casework services are added for patients and families.
  • 1939 - Despite the Great Depression, $134,000 is raised in ten days to build a new home for The Curative Workshop. Ground is broken at 750 N. 18th Street. The new facility, opened in June 1940, features a woodworking room, tanks and pools for water therapy, and an outdoor play area with its own tricycle track.
  • 1941 - A special “after hours” program is established for injured defense workers. Treatment, vocational evaluation, training and placement services are provided to promote successful re-employment. The needs of war workers keep Curative staff at work 10 to 12 hours per day.
  • 1945 - A special speech clinic is created for injured WWII veterans.
  • 1946 - A psychology department is added to provide evaluation and adjustment services.
  • 1947 - With the guidance of I.R. “Whitey” Witthuhn, local Kiwanis clubs create the Kiwanis Foundation to support a Curative treatment program for children with cerebral palsy.
  • 1949 - A building addition is funded by two successful drives that raise $328,168.
  • 1955 - Allen M. Taylor, a partner with the Foley & Lardner law firm, is elected to the Curative Board of Directors. Taylor, who served as a board member for 27 years and as board chairman from 1961 to 1976, is part of a six-decade-long tradition of Foley & Lardner representation on the Curative Board (from the 1930s through the present day).
  • 1958 - A cardiac homemaker service is created to teach women adaptive homemaking skills after heart disease or stroke. 
  • 1960 - The Kiwanis Foundation of Metropolitan Milwaukee establishes the Kiwanis Children’s Division of Curative Workshop in the Kiwanis facility at 610 N. 19th Street.
  • 1962 - A sheltered workshop is opened by the industrial work adjustment unit of the vocational division, providing training and jobs for persons with disabilities.
  • 1968 - Curative is the first agency in the US accredited by the Commission on the Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) in all four areas of emphasis: physical restoration, social adjustment, vocational adjustment and sheltered employment.
  • 1970 - The Self-Help Program is introduced, offering structured, purposeful activities to assist adults with developmental disabilities. Activities in this day services program include subcontract and simulated work, recreation, education and arts and crafts.
  • 1974 - Curative and Milwaukee County sign a lease for 5.8 acres of land on the Milwaukee County Grounds for construction of a new Curative facility. Curative is the first organization to move to the Milwaukee Regional Medical Center.
  • 1976 - The new Curative facility opens at 1000 N. 92nd Street, with 192,000 square feet of space. The Kiwanis Foundation turns over control of the Demmer-Kiwanis Children’s Center – relocated to 92nd Street – to the Curative Board of Directors.
  • 1977 - Curative provide outpatient services in physical, occupational and speech therapy to patients at the Milwaukee Resgional Medical Center. The Curative Foundation is established to channel the donations of generous benefactors into long-term support of Curative.
  • 1978 - New community-based facilities are opened at 5071 S. Lake Drive in Cudahy and 2607 W. Fond du Lac Avenue in Milwaukee.
  • 1981 - Curative receives an unprecedented three year accreditation from the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Health Care Organizations, becoming the only US rehabilitation facility to receive both CARF and JCAHO accreditation in all program areas.
  • 1990 - After only 14 years, the mortgage on Curative's building at 1000 N. 92nd Street is retired.
  • 1991 - Curative’s MRC Industries begins a contract to provide landscaping and maintenance services at eight Milwaukee County Park & Ride lots, employing seven Curative clients.
  • 1994 - The organization’s name is changed to Curative Rehabilitation Services.
  • 1996 - A 39,000 square foot building in West Allis becomes the new home for Curative’s Industrial Services, with space for day services and vocational training programming. A companion care program is created to help elderly persons in Milwaukee and Waukesha counties remain independent in their homes.
  • 1999 - The Senior Care Center, a day program for older adults with dementia and/or health concerns, opens in Waukesha.
  • 2000 - The first Minority Graduate Scholarships are awarded to two UW - Milwaukee students. Curative Senior Services becomes a funded agency of the United Way in Waukesha County.
  • 2001 - Curative announces a name change, becoming Curative Care Network to more accurately reflect the wide variety of services offered. A building at 6700 W. Forest Home Avenue is purchased to become a new Adult Day Services center. The Curative AKTION Club is founded by Day Services program participants under the leadership of the Kiwanis Club of Milwaukee.
  • 2005 - Curative responds to the closing of Milwaukee’s Opportunities Industrial Center, providing programming for the 100 persons served by OIC and offering jobs to the organization’s employees.
  • 2006 - The Ranch Community Services is acquired by Curative in November. During a seamless transition, services continue for nearly 200 Adult Day program participants, group home residents and Community Employment clients.
  • 2008 - United Way of Greater Milwaukee continues decades of generosity by allocating more than $900,000 to support Curative’s Adult Day Services and Child & Youth Services divisions.

Today, Curative provides quality services to several thousand children, adults and senior citizens annually at community-based sites in Milwaukee and Waukesha counties. The organization's areas of expertise include:

  • Adult Day Services
  • Case Management
  • Children's Services
  • Employment Services
  • Senior Services
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