History Timeline: Jennings Center for Older Adults

In 2012 Jennings Center for Older Adults celebrates 70 years of services to Northeast Ohio adults and families. The campus is a tribute to our namesake, Monsignor Gilbert P. Jennings, a visionary who believed in community and whose planned gift established this non-profit organization. Jennings Center for Older Adults has celebrated the following milestones:

April 1941: Monsignor Gilbert P. Jennings is laid to rest
In his last will and testament, Monsignor Jennings designates funds with the intention to “establish a self-sustaining but non-profit institution which by providing dwelling facilities at an operating cost, shall enable deserving persons…to live in a religious and comfortable atmosphere that they deserve but otherwise could not enjoy.”

September 12, 1941: Work starts on “Jennings Hall for the Aged” and Motherhouse for the Sisters of the Holy Spirit
Work began on the original “rest home” at the Granger Road address, constructing a one story, T-shaped building to accommodate 50 individuals and include “all modern conveniences.” The Motherhouse was built as a duplicate of that erected two years earlier by the Sisters of the Incarnate Word.

March 17, 1942: Jennings Hall fulfills dream
Jennings Hall is established under the sponsorship of The Sisters of the Holy Ghost (current day Sisters of the Holy Spirit). Sister Mary Hyacinth Valko is the first administrator. In 1942, Bishop James A. McFadden blessed and dedicated the building. A newspaper article noted, “Nowhere in the Cleveland Diocese is there a haven for the aged quite like Jennings Hall.” It further quotes Bishop McFadden as saying that “while the hall is administered by a Catholic order, all creeds and faiths are welcome.”

February 2, 1946: We will not forget: Jennings Hall destroyed by fire
At approximately 2:00p.m. an explosion and crackling of flames was heard, and the fire spread quickly due to the whipping February wind. While the heroism of the Sisters, bystanders and the firemen (from Garfield Heights, Cleveland, Maple Heights,  Cuyahoga Heights and Bedford) saved 48 lives, we will not forget the 14 who died on that day. The building was a complete loss from the fire damage, and residents moved to temporary housing at the Sisters of the Holy Ghost convent, with family members, at Little Sisters of the Poor and at Saint Joseph Home.

May 6, 1949: New Jennings Hall opens
Auxiliary Bishop Floyd L. Begin dedicated the new Jennings Hall, a colonial style building of white brick construction. Now two stories and “of modern design,” Jennings Hall grew to a capacity of 106 residents under Administrator Sister Joanne Frances and Superintendent Father Michael Ivanko. Bishop Hoban stated, “It seems almost prophetic that Monsignor Jennings should envision the great need for housing the aged which confronts our diocese today.”

April 1956: Formal resident activity programs begin and Jennings Hall expands
Jennings increased its capacity from 103 to 143 with the opening of a new “infirmary wing” with 35 beds to provide short-term care and comfort to individuals facing more chronic illnesses.

March 1978: Jennings begins day program
Recognizing a need to assist older adults who did not need full-time care in a nursing home setting, Jennings Hall opened its doors to serve individuals Monday through Saturday with part-time care.

January 1995: Jennings Hall expands with new, state-of-the-art nursing home
In order to meet the changing needs of nursing home residents, Jennings builds a 125,000 square foot, 150-bed nursing home. More importantly, the new building was created with a new philosophy of care in mind, offering all private suites and moving from a “medical model” to a “wellness model,” caring for residents in a way that enables them to be as independent as possible.

Fall 1998: Jennings adds first senior apartment with HUD 202 grant
Jennings Manor  is complete,  offering 61 one-bedroom apartments  to older  adults  with limited incomes. This enables independent living  for adults over  62 years of age.

Fall 1998: Holy Spirit Villas are constructed
The Sisters of the Holy Spirit form  the Holy Spirit Housing Corporation and build four Holy Spirit Villas.  These  townhomes expand  independent living options on the Jennings  campus.

Fall 2002: Jennings formalizes and expands  infant and child care with The Learning Circle
The Learning Circle opens its doors to provide day care services in the expansion of Jennings Center for  Older Adults, offering  day care to infants and children from six weeks to twelve years old.

January 2003:  $10.3 million expansion creates continuum of care campus now  called Jennings Center for Older Adults
Once again meeting the changing needs of older adults, an expansion project is complete to complement the Jennings Hall nursing home  and add more options in residences  and services. The organization adds 54 one-  and two-bedroom assisted living suites, the Eva  L.  Bruening Adult  Day Center (current capacity to serve  50 participants  daily), 18 private suites  that are now the Marian Gardens  memory support neighborhood, and an on-site  Wellness Center  for individuals to  seek physician and specialty services. Bishop  Anthony  M. Pilla  dedicates  and blesses the new building.

May 2003: Second senior apartment building opens on the campus
Jennings  opens St. Agnes Terrace, a beautiful 42-unit building with two- and three-bedroom apartments for seniors who are 62 years of age or older with tax-credit financing. St. Agnes Terrace was named in honor of the parish established by Monsignor Gilbert Jennings, the namesake and visionary for our campus.

Fall 2005: Jennings  campus adds six villa homes
Six  additional Holy Spirit Villas are added in a cul-de-sac  near the Motherhouse. Each villa offers a maintenance-free  lifestyle with spacious 2 bedroom/2 full bathroom units.

January 2010: Jennings campus third apartment building and campus services
St. Rita Apartments enables Jennings to offer 63 additional one- and  two-bedroom  apartments to older adults.  Built  with a community hub model in mind, Jennings offers a fitness studio, lifelong  learning,  art room and lunch service to support tenants throughout the Jennings campus.  Jennings establishes Campus Services to offer conveniences such  as laundry, housekeeping, maintenance, personal care and other services to help individuals age successfully in their apartment homes.

October 2011: Jennings manages first apartment building off campus
Jennings Center for Older Adults partners with Pirhl, Inc. to manage Library Court Apartments in Shaker Heights. Library Court  is home  to 44 one- and two-bedroom apartments, again thanks to funding through tax credits and other financing.

November 2011: Jennings renovation opens Gardenside Rehabilitation
Finding a need for more short-term skilled nursing, Jennings renovates to create a new neighborhood within Jennings Hall called Gardenside Rehabilitation. Offering 27 private suites, Gardenside Rehab enables older adults from the community or within the campus to receive skilled nursing, following a stay at the hospital, and recover  to their ability before returning home.