Mission & History
Presbyterian Homes, a faith based not for profit, creates vibrant communities for older adults that inspire wellness, independence, joy and security – enriching the lives of residents and their families.
The Geneva Foundation transforms lives by enriching Presbyterian Homes’ communities through generous and responsible philanthropy.
We will reimagine our Life Plan Communities for the future, transforming the organization with innovative thinking, bold leadership, and dynamic strategies that will anticipate the evolving needs of those we serve.
We will strive to be a nationally recognized leader among Senior Living Communities.
We will invest in opportunities for growth to ensure that our communities are secure, strong and vibrant.
People - Every member of Presbyterian Homes’ communities, including residents, employees, volunteers, families and visitors, is treated with dignity and respect. We embrace diversity and recognize that our differences can empower us to grow.
Leadership - We are called to excellence and integrity in our service. We strive to be transparent. We will approach the future with vision, vigor, cooperation and dedication to each other and those we serve.
Growth - We strive for growth which furthers the mission, embraces innovation, and enriches the lives of the individuals we serve.
Financial Responsibility – We commit to sound fiscal management and stewardship of our gifts, assets and resources.
Faith Based - We welcome all as we embody our Christian heritage by serving one another with compassion, dignity, and respect.
In the early 1900s, rural family life had diminished as people flocked to cities. This shift in culture left a number of older people without resources, homes and families to care for them.
Seeing the effects of this dramatic shift was Norman Barr, a pastor at Mt. Olivet Church in Chicago. At a meeting of the Chicago Presbytery, an organization of Presbyterian leadership, Rev. Barr made a compassionate plea for help to establish a home for older Presbyterians with limited financial means. His request would lead to the creation of “The Presbyterian Home.” Its charter was registered on April 21, 1904.
Slowly, Rev. Barr’s vision began to manifest. Organizational structures were put into place, and funds were raised. In 1913, the Board of Directors purchased a house on Chicago’s Near South Side for the creation of a Presbyterian “Old People’s Home.”
Such an undertaking couldn’t be accomplished without significant help. The Presbytery brought together a group of women from Presbyterian churches across the Chicagoland area, and asked them to furnish and ‘keep’ the home. Twenty-one women became the first Women's Board of Managers and they were instrumental in the day-to-day operations of the new Presbyterian Home: cleaning, doing laundry, preparing meals, and assisting the older adults.
The demand grew quickly and soon the house was too small to accommodate those needing residence. Temporary space was found in Highland Park — leased for only a dollar a year. This location allowed for an expansion from six to twenty-five people served. No matter how big the task, with the help of the Board of Directors and the Women’s Board of Managers, everyone was assisted, but the numbers of people asking for help continued to grow.
In 1915, Presbyterian Homes purchased a partially wooded 20-acre site in northwest Evanston for $12,000. Ground was broken in 1921 and, on October 11, 1922, ‘Geneva Place’ of the Presbyterian Homes welcomed its first residents. Eventually, as farmers retired, parcels of available land were purchased to complete the 40-acre site as it stands today.
Throughout these years, the Women's Board of Managers continued to operate the home with the help of a handful of paid staff. The Women’s Board raised funds, handled admissions, oversaw the staff and planned enrichment activities. They also helped in the development of relationships with their home congregations across the region. The Board of Directors created relationships with influential families in Chicago and the Midwest that were vital to the growth of Presbyterian Homes. The mission drew generous approval and support, evolving in response to changing times.
Presbyterian Homes expanded to serve older adults of all faiths and economic means, hired staff to take on increased roles, and added nurses and other professionals to advance healthcare and supportive services. The Women's Board of Prebsyterian Homes and othe volunteers continued to serve in vital capacities.
The mission and practice of Presbyterian Homes has provided hope, security and comfort to thousands of lives over the last 100 years. This is the foundation of our community that has grown from humble beginnings to a national leader in retirement services.
Thanks to the generosity of various benefactors, several additions were made to the North Evanston campus. In the 1960's, Westminster Place was constructed with cottages, townhomes and apartments to serve older adults with greater financial resources. A modern health-care facility — the McGaw Care Center — was given by Foster McGaw in memory of his wife, Mary, to better meet the long-term care needs of older adults. In 1985, Evanston's King Home joined Presbyterian Homes. In 1990, the Wilson/Sidwell Apartments opened to provide assisted living as a bridge between independent living and health care. And, in 1991, Ten Twenty Grove was added as an additional option for independent seniors.
In 1996, construction began on a 49-acre site in Lake Forest. Lake Forest Place, a state-of-the-art retirement community, opened in 1998 and is home to more than 400 residents. In 2000, The Moorings of Arlington Heights, a continuing care community in the northwest suburbs, joined Presbyterian Homes.