History of Communities
1903 – The Phoebe Deaconess and Old Folks Home was established by members of the Reformed Church. The following year, the board purchased a farmhouse and three acres of land west of Allentown. Two elderly women were admitted to the home later that year.
1910 – The number of “guests” in Phoebe’s care totaled six, and 25 applicants awaited admission to the “Old Folks Home.” The farmhouse, located along what is now Turner Street, had quickly become too small.
1911 – A new dormitory was constructed for $40,000 that provided rooms for 30 residents. However, the number of guests increased again to nearly five-fold in just five years.
1933 – 1939 – The new Administration Building, capable of housing 43 residents, was completed. The dormitory continued to house ambulatory residents who could walk to the administration building for meals. In Phoebe became a private, not-for-profit corporation. The Eastern Synod of the Reformed Church was dissolved.
1940 – 1950 – The Home had grown to 100 beds. The third floor infirmary for the sickest residents was always overcrowded. The board agreed that another building, specially designed for the growing number of infirm applicants who needed constant nursing, was necessary. When the West Wing opened, the bed count totaled 168, an 84-fold increase in less than half a century!
1955 – The board proposed yet another addition, the East Wing, to meet the needs of still more applicants requiring non-stop nursing care.
1956 – Phoebe took a big step – out of Allentown – and carried its mission into central Pennsylvania by acquiring the 110-bed Devitt Camp, a former Tuberculosis treatment center near Williamsport. For the next 12 years Phoebe operated the skilled nursing community as Devitt Home.
1963 – A building campaign for the proposed East Wing was launched with a goal of $1 million. Achieving its goal, Phoebe added the East Wing and remodeled rooms on the ground floor of the administration building, completing them in time to accommodate 72 residents from the now defunct Devitt Home.
1972 – The construction of Phoebe Apartments was Phoebe’s first project aimed at meeting the independent-living lifestyle needs of senior adults. Its 131 units provided residential care with minimum supervision to seniors with modest means.
1977 – 1982 – The chapel and activities wing added more space for programs, activities and worship in Phoebe Allentown Health Care Center. The Intermediate Care Facility went up on the western side of the Home in response, again, to the increasing number of applicants needing more nursing care. An annex to the East Wing in brought the Health Care Center’s bed count to more than 400.
1984 – Again turning its attention to independent living needs, The Terrace at Phoebe Allentown was added to the Allentown campus in 1984. The 88-unit continuing care retirement community was fully occupied within a short time.
1988 – The David A. Miller Personal Care Community was finished and attached to the Home by a third-floor catwalk. The 1911 Dormitory was then renovated for administrative offices. Phoebe didn’t spread her wings outside of Allentown again until a challenge from UCC churches in Berks County prompted Board Members to the purchase 66 acres of farmland near Wernersville. Just as the Church was bold in its response to the needs of older adults at the beginning of the 20th century, Phoebe was bold as it created new communities of independent living, Personal Care and skilled health care outside of Reading at the dawn of a new millennium.
1991 – The independent living cottages were opened to their first residents, and the 120-bed Health Care Center was dedicated in 1992. By 1994, 37 cottages, 194 apartments, a 51-bed personal care unit, and a Village Center completed the community. Inspired by the success of the federally funded Phoebe Apartments, the Board of Trustees decided to expand their venture into low-cost senior apartments in the 1990’s. Phoebe opened its arms to the elderly in central Pennsylvania once again when Devitt House, a joint venture with the Penn Central Conference of the United Church of Christ, took in its first residents in 1991.
1992 – Phoebe acquired a community medical center and 122-bed nursing home in Bangor, Northampton County. For the next thirteen years, Phoebe Slate Belt Nursing and Rehabilitation Center offered nursing and rehabilitative care, as well as a full service lab, mammography, immunization clinics and outpatient services to residents and members of the community. In December of 2005, Phoebe Slate Belt was acquired by Extendicare Health Services, Inc. of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
1995 – After the success of the continuing care complex in Wernersville, Phoebe completed the construction of Furnace Creek Manor, its first affordable housing community in the Reading area. Located in Robesonia, Berks County, the apartment community contains 24 units of affordable housing for seniors. Through the use of the Federal Low Income Housing Tax Credit program and partnering with Great Valley Savings Bank (d.b.a. Fulton Bank), Phoebe was able to attract an investment of $1.8 million into the community.
1999 – Phoebe completed the historic renovation of the former Wyomissing Club in downtown Reading into 58 affordable apartments for seniors. After many failed attempts to develop the Reading landmark by other developers over the past 20 years, only Phoebe was able to attract $6.5 million into the community by partnering with Commonwealth Bank and Fulton Bank. In 2001, Phoebe was commended by the City of Reading for its rehabilitation and preservation of the historic Wyomissing Club. The building also contains approximately 13,000 square feet of prime commercial space of which 6,500 is currently leased to Neighborhood Housing Services of Reading and Liberty Financial Services. Also in 1999, Phoebe acquired 3 affordable housing communities from the now defunct nonprofit, Berks Housing Opportunities. The three communities include Weidner Manor in Douglassville, John F. Lutz Apartments in St. Lawrence (formerly the John F. Lutz Furniture Store and Funeral Home), and Franklin and Noble Manor in Shoemakersville (formerly the Merrit Knitting Mill).
January 2000 – Phoebe celebrated the opening of Wind Gap Manor, Phoebe’s eighth residential apartment community for older adults with limited incomes. With 26 one-bedroom units, the housing facility is located in Wind Gap, Northampton County. The large patio, wooded location and resident lounges on each of the buildings’ two floors make Wind Gap Manor a perfect location for independent seniors in the Slate Belt area.
July 2000 – Phoebe purchased the assets of the Zohlman Nursing Home in Richlandtown, Bucks County. The 168-bed, Medicare-certified skilled nursing community and dementia unit was renamed Phoebe Richland Health Care Center. Before its purchase by Phoebe, the Zohlman Nursing Home had been in operation for more than 50 years. The Cottage, an architecturally-designed and secure dementia unit complete with an enclosed courtyard and walking paths, is well suited for ambulatory residents.
2006 – The boards of Phoebe Ministries and Phoebe Wyncote, Montgomery County, unanimously approved an affiliation agreement. Phoebe Wyncote is an established provider of health care and services to the elderly and has been in operation for 76 years.