James H. Childs was born in the Shadyside section of Pittsburgh in 1878. His parents were Harvey Childs Jr., a wholesale shoe merchant on Wood Street, Downtown, and Jeannette Childs. As a young man at the beginning of the 20th century, he and Clinton L. Childs became partners in Childs & Childs, bankers and brokers, with offices in the Arrott Building at Fourth Avenue and Wood Street. He remained with Childs & Childs until about 1912. He then became president of H. Childs & Company at 813 Penn Avenue, a wholesale shoe, leather and rubber business that was a successor to his father’s firm.
James H. Childs married Alice Walton in 1902. The couple lived at 609 Allegheny Avenue and had a summer home in Sewickley Heights soon after they were married. By 1912, the Childs family had a summer home at Dark Harbor, Maine. The family lived at 943 North Lincoln Avenue in the 1910s, until James H. Childs purchased 845 North Lincoln Avenue from James and Ida Scully in 1917. When they moved to 845 North Lincoln Avenue, James H. and Alice Childs had three children.
Records of the 1920 census list the five members of the Childs family at 845 North Lincoln Avenue: James H. Childs, 41, a wholesale leather and rubber merchant; Alice Walton Childs, 40; and Alice Walton Childs, 14, Mary, ten and James H. Jr., six. Household staff living in the house were:
- Margaret Brown, 41, a widowed nurse who had immigrated from England in 1893
- Delia Osher, 28, a servant who had immigrated from Ireland in 1910
- Ellen Deasy, 30, a servant who had immigrated from Ireland in 1908
- Mary Lyon, 32, a servant who had immigrated from Ireland in 1900
- Julia Grotschal, 32, a Hungarian immigrant
Records of the 1920 census also show that 845 North Lincoln Avenue was mortgaged.
The Childs family lived at 845 North Lincoln Avenue until 1923, when James and Alice Childs sold the house. The family then moved to 5453 Albemarle Avenue in Squirrel Hill, and lived there until the 1930s, when they moved to 608 Academy Avenue in Sewickley. James H. Childs continued as president of H. Childs & Company for many years, and later served as chairman.
James H. and Alice Walton Childs lived at 608 Academy Avenue until they died in 1963.