History of the Firth Youth Center
Elizabeth Firth, the only child of Joseph H. and Margaret A. (Lewis) Firth, was born on April 11, 1880, in Phillipsburg, NJ. She was one of the most accomplished singers and actresses that appeared on the English stage. Miss Firth was known in Phillipsburg as "Jimmie" Firth, a name her father bestowed upon her at a very early age. As a schoolgirl, Elizabeth Firth stood out vividly in the memories of her peers. She graduated from Phillipsburg High School in the class of 1900. While still in school, having inherited the vocal ability with which the Firth family is so splendidly endowed, and encouraged by her mother, Miss Firth became the soprano soloist in the choir of the First Presbyterian Church in Phillipsburg and later accepted a similar position in an Easton, Pennsylvania church. At that time, she became a pupil at the New York Conservatory of Music. At a concert given in the Waldorf-Astoria her rich voice attracted the attention of a leading London musical director. Then, followed a brief engagement in a musical comedy, the young singer undertook an English concert tour in June of 1903. She completed a successful tour and was about to cross the ocean home, when London's leading dramatic producer, heard her sing, and engaged her dramatic services for a term of three years. From that time Miss Firth's successes continued. She appeared in numerous soprano roles at several London theaters. A stunning beauty in appearance, Miss Firth was tall and slender with a mass of hair, had a clear blond complexion and blue eyes. In addition to her beauty, she enjoyed the reputation of being one of the best gowned women in London. Her one regret was that her parents were not with her to enjoy her successes and the luxuriant apartments of her London home. Just to satisfy that homesickness for "dear old Phillipsburg," Miss Firth took a trip across the ocean every year, to spend a week with her mother and father at their home in Phillipsburg. Elizabeth Firth Wade organized the Elizabeth Firth Wade Foundation Endowment Fund (Santa Barbara, CA, transferred to Phillipsburg, NJ in 2022).. The foundation erected the Joseph H. Firth Youth Center in 1954, in Phillipsburg, NJ, in honor of her father. The Board of Directors maintains a close relationship with the Elizabeth Firth Wade Foundation and works tirelessly to honor her legacy in Phillipsburg, NJ.