In October 1926, the Rev. M. F. Kretzmann brought to the attention of the Northern Indiana Pastoral Conference the need to establish an Old People’s Home for the Central District.
The Lutheran Old People’s Home on Oak Street in Kendallville welcomed its first resident on November 17, 1931. The home—with accommodations for seven residents—was purchased for $3,000.
Mary Narr, 68, was the first resident of the Oak Street home.
The first residents and staff of the Oak Street home.
Sewing and socializing in the parlor.
A resident is welcomed to 612 East Mitchell Street in Kendallville, which became the new home of the Lutheran retirement community in 1937.
Anna Wehmeyer was dedicated to serving residents as matron of the retirement community from 1942 to 1956.
Pastors M. F. Kretzmann and Bruno Poch lead worship services.
The location on Mitchell Street in Kendallville was expanded to accommodate additional residents—nearly 100 by 1951. The mission was also expanded to focus on health care as well as residential living.
Lutheran Life Villages’ 42-acre campus on Fort Wayne’s southeast side was created in the early 1960s. The organization’s name was then changed to Lutheran Homes.
Circa 1970, residents socialize in one of common areas at the Lutheran Homes Fort Wayne campus.
Lutheran Life Villages’ current Kendallville campus at 351 North Allen Chapel Road opened in 1989. As part of Lutheran Homes, the community was named Shepherd of the Hill.
Lutheran Life Villages is celebrating 80 years of providing premier retirement-living options and the highest-quality care in an environment that promotes wellness, respect, and dignity for all.
It all started in October 1926, when the Northern Indiana Pastoral Conference of the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod began to consider urgent requests to establish a home for the elderly. In June 1927, the Central District of the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod approved such a home and established a permanent organization, the Lutheran Old People’s Home of Kendallville.
In 1931, the “Oak Street Home” opened to seven residents. Within five years, the organization had outgrown this location, and in 1937, it moved to “The Walling Home” at 612 East Mitchell Street. This new home provided accommodations for 16 residents, as well as a chapel, reception room, and offices. In 1940, the Walling Home was expanded to provide accommodations for 20 additional residents. In 1950, there was another expansion to include 40 more residents.
In 1961, growth and urgent need prompted adding another location, and the board purchased approximately 42 acres of bare ground on South Anthony Boulevard in Fort Wayne. After approximately 18 months of construction, the Fort Wayne campus was dedicated, and our name was changed to Lutheran Homes Inc.
In 1989, Lutheran Homes broke ground for a new campus at 351 North Allen Chapel Road on the east side of Kendallville. Residents were welcomed the same year.
With God’s blessings, we’ve seen significant growth over the years. We’ve experienced quite a few changes, too, including nine major additions to our current campuses. We currently have the capacity to provide various retirement-living options and levels of care to nearly 650 residents, and we employ more than 400 people.
In 2009, we began preparing to meet the expectations of a new generation of retirees. The organization that began as the Lutheran Old People’s Home, and later became Lutheran Homes, was renamed Lutheran Life Villages. A new tag line, “A Better Way of Living,” was also created to better describe the organization’s goal of fostering overall wellness among residents and staff. A big part of the Lutheran Life Villages wellness initiative is Heritage Trail, which was dedicated on the Fort Wayne campus in 2009.
Among other recent improvements and additions on both campuses are the Rehab Suites, accommodations and therapy for patients during their short-term recovery from injury or illness. We also offer memory care and respite care.
Lutheran Life Villages has also increased its community outreach through special events that promote wellness and help those in need.
In 2011, we launched Home Care, which provides non-medical personal assistance to clients wherever they live in northeast Indiana—in private residences, at Lutheran Life Villages, or in other retirement communities.
Also in 2011, Lutheran Life Villages began its Generation of Growth initiative, which will result in two brand-new campuses on the far north side of Fort Wayne and significant upgrades on the Fort Wayne and Kendallville campuses.
Looking back, we have a rich tradition of helping older adults. Looking forward, Lutheran Life Villages has a very promising future.