Decades ago, the South Iowa Methodist Church Conference shared a vision of providing a retirement home for aging ministers. Using a gift of the stately and renowned Chamberlain Estate in Des Moines, the Conference in 1947 established Wesley Acres, Inc., as a faith-inspired, not-for-profit ministry with a mission to serve older adults.
Located in the heart of the city, the Chamberlain Estate includes beautiful, wooded acreage and the grand Chamberlain Mansion, which was designed by noted architect William George Rantoul. The first residents of the Chamberlain house donated their time and talents to support the operation of the household.
From Wesley Acres' original five residents, WesleyLife has grown to serve more than 10,000 older adults in 11 -- soon to be 12! -- communities in Iowa and western Illinois, and through an array of home-based services and three adult day centers in 15 Iowa counties.
Halcyon House, located in Washington, Iowa, was added to the family in 1960. It included a nursing wing and 20 independent apartments. Construction was financed by the first FHA loan made in Iowa.
Heritage House, situated in the heart of Atlantic, Iowa, was built and welcomed its first residents in 1962.
Wesley Acres, Inc., was renamed South Iowa Methodist Homes Inc. in 1963.
In 1987, a corporate reorganization renamed South Iowa Methodist Homes, Inc., as Wesley Retirement Services.
Wesley-Methodist Adult Day was established on the Wesley Acres campus as a joint venture of Wesley and Iowa Methodist Medical Center in 1988.
The Village in Indianola was built in 1991, and Park Centre in Newton opened a year later, with Willowbrook Adult Day relocating to the Park Centre campus.
In 2001, Wesley Retirement Services' corporate offices moved from the Chamberlain Mansion to its present offices in Johnston, Iowa.
In 2004, recognizing the need to assist older adults in their homes, Wesley at Home, a Medicare-certified in-home health care agency, was launched in Des Moines to serve Polk, Warren and Dallas counties.
In 2006, Wesley at Home opened in Ames to serve Story, Hamilton, and Boone counties. That summer, Wesley merged with Generations, Inc., a 60-year old senior services organization, expanding Wesley's mission by bringing Meals on Wheels and a variety of personal-care services to lower-income older adults. The new community-based services division was named Wesley Community Services, later WesleyLife at Home.
Wesley extended its mission by offering hospice in the Des Moines, Indianola and Ames areas in 2007.
In 2008, Wesley at Home expanded to serve older adults in the counties of Cass, Guthrie, and Audubon.
In 2009, Wesley Retirement Services announced plans to change its name to WesleyLife — a name that encompasses all we do and reflects a growing focus on providing support and services wherever our clients call home.
Edgewater opened in West Des Moines in 2009, offering resort-style amenities in all levels of living.
Pella Regional Health Center transferred ownership of Fair Haven East, Pella Manor, and Jefferson Place to WesleyLife on January 1, 2010. Together with The Cottages, these communities are known as Hearthstone, a ministry of WesleyLife.
In 2013, WesleyLife introduced Wesley Wheels, a transportation service in Central Iowa.
In 2014, Hearthstone opened The Cottages, a community dedicated to transforming the experiences of assisted living, memory care, and skilled nursing. The Cottages were recognized in 2015 as a top Award of Merit recipient in the 19th annual national Environments for Aging Design Showcase.
All WesleyLife locations earned recognition as Blue Zones Designated Worksites in 2015.
In 2017, we saw the grand re-openings of Halcyon House and Heritage House in Atlantic after extensive redevelopments to serve residents in both communities. Also that year, WesleyLife was named Best Senior Living in central Iowa by readers of The Des Moines Register.
In 2018, an expansion project was completed at Edgewater, allowing the community to welcome residents to 33 brand-new luxury apartments. The same year, WesleyLife received the Great Place to Work designation, recognizing its organizational culture as welcoming, affirming, and focusing on helping team members realize purpose and meaning in all they do. And later in 2018, Brio of Johnston opened, bringing opportunities for older adults to live lives of vivacity and activity in Johnston, Iowa.
In 2019, WesleyLife partnered with Genesis Health System of Davenport, Iowa, to create WellSpire, an organization designed to bring a new kind of senior living to residents of the Quad Cities of Iowa and Illnois. Later in the year, WellSpire broke ground for its first new community, The Summit of Bettendorf in Bettendorf, Iowa.
WesleyLife employs more than 1,500 full- and part-time team members whose focus is to support the independence, health, and well-being of older adults, wherever they call home. Soon, we'll break ground for another new community: Fieldstone of DeWitt, in DeWitt, Iowa, and continue master-planning efforts to enhance our communities in Des Moines, Indianola, and Pella. It's a great time to be a part of WesleyLife!