The following is a history of the Home from the 100th Anniversary celebration in 1992. For a more recent and in depth look at the history of the Home click here.
In early 1892 a handful of Fredericktowne ladies decided there was a need to provide for:
Persons of respectable parentage and good character, who, in advanced age, by reason of the death of their natural protectors, by loss of fortune, by physical infirmity, or other inability to care for themselves are unprovided with the means of obtaining the comfort and security so necessary for the repose of mind and body which should ever attend the declining years of life.|
In their hearts:
an earnest desire was cherished that an independent, wholly nonsectarian home might be established for the relief of such cases ... The time for the founding of a Home for the Aged of Frederick City had come.|
With such a flourish, the Home for the Aged began at 115 Record Street in a house previously occupied by Mrs. Ann Ross, who along with Mr. and Mrs. Charles W. Ross, donated it to the new enterprise. Although the idea had been planted in the 1870's by Miss Eleanor M. Potts and pursued by her niece, Miss Nannie Marshall, it was a meeting in Mrs. Ross' home on January 5, 1892 that officially marked the founding of the Home. A charter was obtained from the state, separate boards of managers and trustees were established, funding and furnishings were solicited, and in October of 1892 the Home opened its doors to its first two residents.
First to enter the home was Mrs. Margaret M. Delaplaine, widow of George W. Delaplaine; she died two years later. She had supported the idea of such a facility and even offered her own home for its use. A Frederick County teacher, Miss Hester Ann Posey, was the second original member. She lived there for twenty-four years until her death at age ninety-four.
Today twenty ladies reside at the Record Street Home, a life care facility for people of at least sixty-five years of age who have lived in Frederick County or have connections to the area. Throughout the century, the Home as sought to maintain a family atmosphere, one of care with dignity and love where residents can spend the remainder of their lives without financial or housekeeping burdens.
The Home is the only one of its kind in Maryland still able to operate solely as a private institution. Generous donations from the Frederick community have enabled it to maintain this status. An applicant must be willing to give all but a small portion of her assets to the Home; in exchange she is guaranteed lifetime care, including health care.
The Home's facility is thought to have been built by Dr. William B. Tyler of Courthouse Square around 1850. A handsome three-story brick home design in the late Greek Revival style, it has been enlarged twice. Three-story annex was added in 1899, and in 1927 the Baker Wing extended the facility back towards Bentz Street.
The additions increased the Home's capacity from thirteen to thirty-one. Today other usage has reduced the number of rooms to twenty-three, in addition to a four-bed infirmary, and twenty residents is considered maximum. The facility was licensed by the state in 1941. In 1983 it changed its designation from a comprehensive care facility to a domiciliary care one.
Throughout these changes, the mission of the Home has stayed unchanged, as various annual reports attest:
Our doors are thrown open to those who have lived and toiled and suffered in life's battle in Frederick and Frederick Country; the best rooms, the first thought, the final consideration is for them. Bound together as one family in an established, secluded community, we take a frank and innocent pleasure in this "providing for our own." (1903)|
Not wishing to encourage any applicants who have support insured to them by sacred ties of nature, we have been compelled to set our faces steadfastly against some appeals. (1909)
The home has continued for ninety years to provide the comfortable atmosphere that the founders envisioned. The objective of all is to continue to preserve the Home as in the past. (1982)
No change can alter the basic concept of the Home, which is to provide "a home with all the comforts thereof for such aged persons who may need the same." (1984)
The major force in determining the Home's character has always been the Board of Managers. The women who began the Home were a zealous lot, and "the ladies' board" as it is often called, has passed down this commitment over the century. Numerous entries from the early annual reports testify to their sense of mission.
The institution aimed to afford a comfortable, refined home ... Now its Managers have the satisfaction of knowing that theirs hopes were not cherished in vain. Their offer has been accepted by ladies whose noble lives of unselfish devotion to duty, spotless purity and active philanthropy have placed the whole community in their debit. (1894)|
There is no more beautiful and Christlike chapter in the annals of the closing century than the one on philanthropy ... A conspicuous monument of such beautiful and munificent charity is the Home for the Aged in our midst. Ever will it stand as the highest embodiment of woman's patient and loving service for the good of others. We are exceedingly gratified and ever reminded that after all, ours Is a world in which life's most perfect happiness and sweetest blessings consist in doing good to others. (1901)
In the early years a manager was chosen in part either because of her family connection to a previous manager or trustee or because she provided the proper balance of religious representation. Today a manager is chosen for her interest in the home and commitment to becoming involved in its activities. Each one, besides attending monthly meetings and committee assignments, shares a month with another manager to concentrate on the residents. This entails visiting each lady, providing entertainment outside the Home, helping with social functions and generally being an integral part of the Home life. A manager also serves as a Big Sister to a Little Sister resident, a relationship which rotates annually and which fosters a special bond between them. As there are more managers than residents, no lady is allowed to feel lonely.
In addition to the Board of Managers, there is a Board of Trustees which manages the financial assets of the Home. This two-tier management structure is rooted in the facility's 1892 charter. Unusual even in its time, it is unique in this area today, but it has functioned smoothly for a hundred years and seems in no danger of changing.
The profile of the residents has changed over the century. Although most of the Home's residents have been women, four men have joined the family over the years. At first the minimum age was 60, but in 1940 this was raised to 65. A half century ago, the average age of a person entering the Home was 72; today it is 84. The average age of a resident around 1942 was 78; today it is 86. Better insurance coverage and more options for extending independent living have contributed to these trends, and the change has cause the focus within the Home to alter in such areas as entertainment and health care.
Traditions have always been a part of the ladies' lives on Record Street, but they have assumed various forms over the century. Donation Day was an important event every October when Fredericktonians would bring everything from hominy and kraut to pickles and preserves to help fill the pantry for the coming year. Canning, too, was done on the premises, often with residents helping, until state regulations forced both activities to a halt. Now there is the Strawberry Festival in June, card and bingo parties each month, shrimp or oyster feeds, special Sunday suppers and a Christmas Eve eggnog party. The monthly visitation tradition of the managers goes back to the earliest days, while the Big Sister concept was adopted only recently.