From its humble beginnings in 1919 as a home for 14 residents, to the now seven-acre campus housing and caring for up to 172 seniors, Epworth Manor will be celebrating 90 years of being part of the Tyrone and central Pennsylvania community. An outdoor celebration will take place on July 8, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and will include a big band concert by the Hallmark’s, refreshments, photographs and memorabilia. The celebration will take place on the Epworth campus located at 951 Washington Ave., Tyrone, Pa.
Donna Beegle, an employee of Epworth Manor who began her early career there in 1962, has seen numerous changes between then and when she returned to Epworth in 1994 as an accounting assistant.
“I walked in and everything was so different; I couldn’t get over it. I started working at Epworth Manor when I was 16 and was a dishwasher and waitress while I was in high school,” explains Ms. Beegle. “Back then the main building was a big house with large front and side porches, and 102 beds. Most of the residents lived independently, and the smaller house next door was the skilled care area which had 20 beds. The main house had a large dining room where we served the meals family style, and if a resident was not well enough to come to the dining room, we brought the food to them using dumbwaiters that were on each floor. The main house also had an elevator that was run by the girl who lived across the street.”
Other changes Ms. Beegle notes are that employees used to iron resident’s clothes by hand, and now they use steamers and the building itself no longer looks like a house but resembles more of a commercial style building that has multiple functions, not just living quarters.
The original Methodist Home for the Aged (Epworth Manor) was established by the Central Pennsylvania Conference of the Methodist Church with the purchase of the S.S. Blair property for the sum of $15,000. Although sites were scouted in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Baltimore, the estimated $175 per year per resident was cost prohibitive in those areas.
The first addition to the original mansion was in 1921 and opened the house to a total of 50 residents. The second addition in 1925 increased occupancy to approximately 90. In 1959 a state-of-the-art nursing center opened with 28 beds. An additional structure was opened in 1975—a four-story skilled nursing facility. Epworth Manor’s latest addition was in 2002—an $11-million building that includes 10 residential living apartments, 28 personal care suites and a 12-room memory support neighborhood. Back in the beginning, the home relied on the church and community for donations to help it run. Notes in old logs describe gifts of “22 deer from the local game wardens,” and “100 railroad ties to be used as fuel” from the Pennsylvania Railroad company. Today, Epworth still receives donations, mostly monetary, from residents and community members that helps fund its benevolent care program.
Robin Stern, executive director at Epworth Manor, originally worked there from 1984 to 1986 as a social worker. She returned in 2000 as the executive director and noted interesting changes during that period of time.
“Some things haven’t changed in the 90 years that Epworth Manor has been around,” explains Ms. Stern. “We have a reputation for quality care, and like we did from the very beginning, treating residents like family. Our staff go through mandatory training and education every year to ensure they are up on the latest trends in care and can offer a variety of interesting activities for our residents. Tyrone is a small town, so our employees know many residents before they move to Epworth. I think this helps contribute to the ‘family atmosphere’ at our community.”
Epworth Manor is a continuing care retirement community that is part of Asbury Communities, Inc., which provides management and support services for a system of continuing care retirement communities for older adults. Asbury Communities is ranked by the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging (AAHSA) and Ziegler Capital Markets Group’s AZ 100 as the 14th largest not-for-profit multi-site senior living organization in the country.
Source: Press Release, Epworth Manor