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  • Writer's pictureLawrence Lore

The "Old Folks Home"

The Southern Illinois Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church accepted the Hennessey site in Lawrenceville Illinois for the location of the “Old Folks Home” July 14, 1925, and the architect was ordered to finish the plans and specifications and then submit them to contractors at once.  

The Hennessey tract was composed of 5 acres bounded on the north by Cedar Street, on the east by 16th St. and on the south by Sunnyside Addition. It was convenient to the railroad station and was only seven blocks from the Methodist Episcopal Church.

From an early brochure about the Old Folks Home the qualifications for residents was explained.

“ ….The primary purpose of the Old Folks Home is to minister to the aged members of the Methodist Episcopal church who have attained the age of 60 years and are facing a homeless old age. … Non- Methodists may or may not be accepted at the discretion of the Executive Committee. ….. Persons planning to enter should not wait until they are broken in health and need hospital care.  The home is not a hospital nor an infirmary and should not be expected to admit invalids.  However, all necessary care is given to those who have been admitted regardless of what physical affliction may come to them after admission…  All necessities of life including housing, food, clothing, medical care, and social and religious ministry are included.  This also includes burial at death, the place of burial to be specified by the member. ….....…. Recognizing that upon each individual rests the obligation of self-support to the extent of his or her financial ability; that savings are accumulated as a guarantee against a homeless old age; that neither the home nor any other charitable or benevolent institution should be asked to do for anyone what that individual can do for himself; that the actual cost of maintenance for the average life-time is so great an obligation that each applicant will be required to transfer to the Home all property or resources .  …

“…..Our Home has no endowment. We are in debt. Our support comes from the contribution of various churches, friends and some Guests who can pay their way. An admission fee is expected of approximately one third of the average cost of life care, based on the age of the member at entrance…”

Rev Chas. L Coleman was the superintendent at Lawrenceville.  The Board consisted of George Corrie, Mrs. Elmer Hadley, Miss Belle Vandermark, W L Terhune, and J D Madding, as well as others. 

Inside a Civil War Pension file, a researcher found a letter indicating that the wife of one of the county’s old soldiers had been admitted as a resident.  Mrs. John P. Scott signed an entrance agreement on August 3, 1926, to turn over all her property consisting of cash, a note of $400 due in October 1926, and some paid up life insurance as well as her monthly government pension to the Home in return for lifetime care, a public funeral and Christian burial at her death.

 For many years the church-based home followed this policy.

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