FARMINGTON — Chester and Isabel Greenwood made an impact on Farmington far beyond Chester’s fame as the creator of earmuffs and other inventions.

The Pierce House will celebrate the couple’s dedication to the community on Chester Greenwood Day, Saturday, Dec. 6, with an open house planned from 1 to 3 p.m.

Along with old-fashioned treats and cookie decorating, memorabilia of the Greenwoods and their efforts to create a home for the aged in Farmington will be displayed. Tours of the house will be given, including viewing the hexagon-shaped addition on the back of the building, administrator Darlene Mooar said. 

Friends of the Pierce House, a volunteer group, will host the event and welcome guests at the front door. This will be the home’s annual Christmas open house, she said.

“The Greenwoods were charter members of the Farmington Home for the Aged People’s Association. They were among the first trustees who founded the home in 1905 with an initial donation of $7. The home opened in its present location on Main Street in 1926,” according to memorabilia gathered for the day.

Chester Greenwood designed and created two iron fire escapes, stretching three floors, for the home in 1928.

Advertisement

But Isabel, who receives little recognition, was a force unto herself.

She was a suffragette and testified before the state legislature for a woman’s right to vote, Mooar said.

The law was passed in 1920.

Isabel designed the Greenwood House and raised four children, volunteer Trish Flint said. She was also treasurer for the Pierce House for 50 years.

Isabel Greenwood was petite but mighty, she said. Chester and Isabel were a good team, as both were great philanthropists and involved in community service.

In 1905, an idea for a home for older people who didn’t have family nearby or a place to live was born, Mooar said. The home still operates as a residential care facility.

Advertisement

Initially, a home called Beechwood was founded in what is now Bing and Liz Etzel’s home on Anson Street, she said. The house was sold in 1920, and the group bought the Main Street home of Charles Pierce.

Before the home even opened, there was a waiting list to become a lifetime member. Madame Lillian Nordica reserved a spot in 1913, but died in Java in 1914, Flint said.

Until 1988, the Farmington Home for the Aged operated on lifetime contracts with nine residents. The home would take care of everything from nursing homes to funeral arrangements, Mooar said.

“We took care of you for the rest of your life,” she said.

Mooar became administrator in 1989 and developed the self-pay residence instead of contracts. In 1993, an addition was started, which opened in 1995.

The name was changed to Eighty Main Street but it was too confusing to 911 operators to give a location of “Eighty Main Street at 204 Main St.,” so the name was changed to the Pierce House, she said.

Advertisement

Now that the mortgage on the addition has been paid off, the second phase of the expansion project has begun, Mooar said. A back patio will become a residential center with a meeting room, new hair salon and will allow space for a second-floor resident to move downstairs.

The home is governed by 17 trustees, led by President Craig Jordan, an advocate for meeting the needs of the resident — not just physical needs, but also emotional ones. The care includes the welfare of the residents’ family, Mooar said.

There are also 16 friends, who each have a buddy in the house. This started in 2001, Jill Perry, a friend, said. They all gather once a month for tea and activities. Last week, they celebrated Leona Cross’ 105th birthday.

All are welcome to visit the Pierce House on Saturday.

[email protected]


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.