In 1946, the South Iowa Methodist Church Conference had a vision of providing a retirement home for aging ministers. Using the gift of the Chamberlain Estate in Des Moines, the Conference established Wesley Acres Inc. as a faith-inspired, nonprofit ministry to serve older adults.
Located in the heart of the city, the Chamberlain Estate included beautiful wooded acreage and contained the grand Chamberlain mansion, which was designed by noted architect William George Rantoul. The first residents inhabited the Chamberlain house, and 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 8,000 older adults in seven Communities for Healthy Living 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 the South Iowa Methodist Homes Inc. in 1963.
In 1987, a corporate reorganization changed South Iowa Methodist Homes Inc. to Wesley Retirement Services.
Wesley-Methodist Adult Day Care 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 its present offices in Johnston, Iowa.
In 2004, recognizing the need to assist older adults in their home, Wesley at Home, a certified-Medicare in-home health care agency, was launched in Des Moines, Iowa, to serve Polk, Warren and Dallas counties.
Two years later 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 home and community-based services division is called Wesley Community Services.
Wesley extended its mission by offering hospice in the Greater Des Moines, Indianola and Ames areas in 2007.
In 2008, Wesley at Home expands to serve older persons in southwest Iowa in the counties of Cass, Guthrie and Audubon counties in West Central Iowa. A local private-duty company, Kindred Connection, joined the Wesley family to support nonmedical home needs.
In 2009, Wesley Retirement Services announced plans to change its name to WesleyLife—a more encompassing name reflecting a growing focus on providing support and services for people, wherever they call home.
Edgewater of West Des Moines opened in doors in 2009.
Pella Regional Health Center transferred ownership of Fair Haven East, Pella Manor and Jefferson Place to WesleyLife effective Jan. 1, 2010. These three communities are known as Hearthstone, a ministry of WesleyLife.
In 2013, WesleyLife introduced a new transportation service, Wesley Wheels, offering “door through door” service in Greater Des Moines.
In 2014, Hearthstone opened The Cottages, a community dedicated to transforming the experience 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 nine WesleyLife locations – all seven communities, the 18th Street offices and the Home Office – earned recognition as Blue Zones Designated Worksites in 2015.
WesleyLife employs more than 1,400 full- and part-time team members whose focus is to support the independence, health and well-being of older adults, wherever they call home.