Marker #2519 St. Matthew Church/Act of Compassion

Historical Marker #2519, in Louisville, Kentucky, honors the efforts of the St. Matthew Church of Christ and the House of Ruth during the HIV/AIDS epidemic of the 1990s.

The House of Ruth was founded by eight women: Anne Binder, Elizabeth Blandford, Marilyn Spink, Sharan Benton, Sharon Benton, Sharon Cook, Sharon Gray, and Rebecca Miles. The women joined together in 1992 to help women affected by HIV/AIDS. The American AIDS epidemic started in 1981 and slowly trickled into Kentucky; at the start of the 1990s, cases increased. The women named their organization the House of Ruth in reference to the biblical book, Ruth. According to their website, “The name symbolizes love and mercy for all people.” During the fall of 1998, the House of Ruth experienced administrative growth and needed more space, the St. Matthew United Church of Christ in Shelby Park welcomed them in. The group obtained their own building in the year 2000 and has remained there. The House of Ruth assumed control of Glade House in 2001 and has since served men and families suffering from HIV/AIDS. Today, House of Ruth maintains seventeen housing units for families that have been affected by HIV/AIDS.

Marker #2519 was dedicated in 2017 by the Kentucky Historical Society and the Kentucky Department of Highways. It reads: St. Matthew Church. On November 3, 1889, the original church on this property was dedicated as the St. Matthew Evangelical Church. The congregation soon outgrew it, and the current building designed by Arthur Loomis was completed ca. 1908. The church had a long history of supporting local ministries and service organizations. St. Matthew Church closed in 1999 and was gifted to House of Ruth for $1.
(Reverse) Act of Compassion. The church building became home to this organization. Begun in 1992, House of Ruth began supporting women with AIDS and their children. In 2001, House of Ruth acquired Glade House, which was started in the mid-1980s to house men with AIDS who had nowhere else to go. They now provide housing and support for women, men, and families affected by HIV and AIDS.