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Halcyon House celebrates 65 years of serving Iowans! accent

May 1, 2024 | By

Halcyon House, WesleyLife's Community for Healthy Living in Washington, Iowa, can trace its roots all the way back to 1912. That year, a first-class stamp cost 2 cents, a dozen eggs cost 30 cents, Woodrow Wilson defeated William Howard Taft to become president, and the sinking of the Titanic stunned the world.

Back in Southeast Iowa, a group of townswomen, concerned about a friend who had fallen ill, were drawn together by a collective concern about a lack of healthcare in their community, specifically a "compassionate house" to care for people with extended illnesses. They also liked the idea of creating jobs for individuals with a talent for caregiving.

Taking matters into their own hands, the women began fundraising, collecting money from local businesses and individuals with the hope of funding a building they would later refer to as "The Old People's Home," later the "Old Ladies' Home Corporation," then "The Washington Home for the Aged."

Working toward a goal

The women's efforts were interrupted by World War I; after the Armistice was signed in 1918, they redoubled their efforts. But the work proved slow-going until sometime during the 1930s, when a visitor named Etta Black left a small and unexpected bequest to what was by then has come to be known as "The Washington Home Association."

Halcyon first resident Pimme World War II again stalled the group's efforts, but Washington residents clung to their vision of assisting older adults in their community. Following a donation of land, several large monetary donations, and a Federal Housing Administration loan, a small two-story building was erected, and Halcyon House was born. 

The year was 1959, and the community's first resident was Albert Pimme, a farmer from West Chester. A newspaper article from that year that the name "Halcyon House" was chosen because "an ancient legend was the incentive for a name meaning 'serenity.'" 

Yesterday - and today

It can safely be assumed that in the 65 years since that day, Halcyon House has changed a bit!  By 1960, 25 residents called the community "home"; 1973, 1976, and 1979 saw the additions of three apartment buildings, one in each of those years.

Rob vacuum Halcyon 2017In 1996, the community added the Sitler Center for Helpful Living. Households were added in 2017 (at left, you can see WesleyLife President and CEO Rob Kretzinger helping to clean construction dust from one of the new additions in preparation for a grand-opening celebration!), and today, Halcyon House is home to 156 residents and employs 110 team members.

The campus is one of Washington's largest employers, and team members routinely elevate the community to best-in-class outcomes; the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services routinely awards Halcyon House top ratings for services and care. 

The community will celebrate Halcyon House's 65th birthday with a public open house in campus on September 24 in conjunction with the Washington Chamber's Alive After 5 celebration. Please mark your calendars; details will be available soon!  

 

 

 

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