September 2012, Cambridge – One of Cambridge’s beloved institutions turned 125 years old this month and scores of Cambridge citizens turned out to celebrate the milestone at The Cambridge Homes anniversary gala last Thursday. The not-for-profit organization, established in 1887, has a distinguished history serving the needs of Cambridge seniors continually adapting to meeting changing needs throughout its many years of existence.
Vice Mayor Denise Simmons, State Representative Jonathan Hecht and City Councilor Minka VanBeuzekom were among the dignitaries who attended. The celebration featured an art exhibit of residents’ work, recognized the volunteer efforts of the Friends of the Cambridge Homes, and highlighted the rich history of the organization, as well as future endeavors of the Board of Directors.
Dr. Robert Neer, current Board President, toasted the “long tradition of warm and friendly support from the Cambridge community”, as well as the residents of The Homes “who breathe life and color into this building.” He congratulated the staff and thanked the Friends for their thousands of hours of service in enriching the lives of residents. Finally he offered a toast to “this marvelous building which exemplifies by its grace and beauty the character of the people who live and work here.”
The building itself, a local historic landmark at 360 Mount Auburn Street next to Mount Auburn Hospital, was front and center in the celebration.
Dr. Neer recalled the early days of The Homes when a group of notable Cambridge citizens, including Alice Longfellow, the poet’s daughter, established a residence for the elderly. Their first “Home” was quickly outgrown and in 1899 the current residence, a Georgian-style manse, was opened by Charles Eliot, President of Harvard. As time passed an infirmary was added and The Homes operated as a rest home with skilled nursing care.
Fifteen years ago this month, after a complete gut rehab and renovation, The Homes transitioned from a rest home into a gracious independent and assisted living residence featuring a rich array of supportive services and operated by an experienced management firm.
Frank Duehay, a former Board President whose involvement with the Cambridge Homes began in 1958 when his grandfather was a resident, said , “Thanks to the vision of the Board of Directors and the involvement of so many others, The Cambridge Homes today is one of the finest retirement residences in the country. We are also very proud that we have successfully maintained our original charitable purpose by providing financial assistance to a third of the residents who live here through our endowment fund.”
While the evening was about celebrating past achievements and history, those connected to The Cambridge Homes are now looking to the future. For the past several years the Steering Committee has been carefully researching how The Cambridge Homes can best respond to local needs.
Arch Horst, a local Cambridge architect who serves as chair of the Steering Committee said, “Alzheimer’s is the pressing need. What we know and what we do best is housing. We are looking for land now and hope to build a new assisted living community focusing on memory support. We’ll know within the next six months if this goal will become reality.”
While The Cambridge Homes looks to the future, Helene Quinn, Executive Director ended the evening by thanking the Cambridge community. “Over our long history so many Cambridge citizens have come forward to serve on our Board, to volunteer for the Friends Committee, to support us financially. The rich fabric of our deep association with the larger Cambridge community sustains us today as it always has.”
About The Cambridge Homes: The Cambridge Homes offers Independent Living and Assisted Living in an historic Georgian-style brick building just minutes from Harvard Square next to Mount Auburn Hospital. Residents enjoy its relaxed ambiance, stimulating cultural programs and concierge-style services. The Cambridge Homes primarily serves seniors throughout the City of Cambridge, as well as the neighboring towns of Belmont, Arlington and Watertown. The Cambridge Homes day-to-day operations are managed by Senior Living Residences (SLR), a local Massachusetts company with 20 years of experience in assisted living and Alzheimer’s care.
For more information, visit www.TheCambridgeHomes.org or call 617-876-0369.