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Rose BuildingA Brief History of The Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging

A shrewd businessman with an empathic heart, Mr. Benjamin Rose established the organization that bears his name after a visit from a former business associate. The man had outlived his resources, and approached Mr. Rose for assistance. Realizing there must be others for whom the only option was the city infirmary or poorhouse. Mr. Rose chose to leave his fortune to provide another option for those needing assistance in later life.

Mr. Rose hand picked the original board members, who he stipulated be women. The agency was enacted upon his death in 1908. Today, in accordance with his will, the board remains all female.

In the Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging's early years, board members selected recipients who applied for financial assistance. In an era without Social Security, the small monthly stipends (many less than $20) received by clients was often the difference between death and survival.

In the 1930s, in addition to financial support, the Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging began providing social work and medical services. The enactment of Social Security by President Roosevelt in 1935 allowed the Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging to provide direct service to more people.

In the 1940s, the Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging began establishing homes for older people. The agency operated three houses (Belford House, Braeburn House and Juniper House) in Cleveland that served as group homes for older people unable to live alone.

Through a partnership with University Hospitals, the Institute opened the Benjamin Rose Hospital in 1953. It was one of the first elder-specific rehabilitative hospitals in the country. For 16 years, the facility helped older people make the hospital-to-home transition after stroke, surgery or other loss of physical abilities.

In 1961, the people living in the Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging's three residential homes were moved into Margaret Wagner House, the Institute's first nursing home. The facility served as a model for the nation by showing how homelike care could be provided in an institutional setting.

The same year, the Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging created its research department. The first research director, Dr. Margaret Blenkner, conducted landmark studies on elder abuse prevention and the value of home care aides in helping older people with housekeeping and personal care.

In 1971, the Benjamin Rose Library opened as one of the first agency-based libraries devoted solely to materials related to geriatrics and gerontology. The library was a part of the Research Department until it closed in 2012.

In recent years, the Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging has created partnerships with various organizations to develop services that will meet the ever-changing needs of a growing population in an era of managed care. Recent examples of this are the Concordia Care (PACE) Program (now McGregor PACE), the Fairhill Center for Aging (now Fairhill Partners), the former HealthRays Alliance, and the Senior Health and Wellness Center.

In 1997, Kethley House at Benjamin Rose Place opened, replacing Margaret Wagner House as the Institute's nursing home.

The newly vacated Margaret Wagner House was repurposed. The building became home to the PACE program from 1997 to 2015. In 2003, the fourth and fifth floors were opened as Margaret Wagner Apartments, offering affordable supportive housing to low-income seniors. In 2012, newly renovated apartments opened on the second and third floors, bringing the total numbers of units to 60.

In February of 2006 the difficult but necessary decision to cease nursing home care at Kethley House was made. In the Summer of 2006 Administrative, Research and Services divisions consolidated their offices on the 3rd floor of Kethley House. The remaining floors were leased to Kindred Hospital systems for their use as a Long Term Acute Care Hospital. This unique partnership between a corporate health care provider and a nonprofit social service agency enabled Benjamin Rose to be a sustainable source of in-home care, research, and advocacy into the future. In 2012, the building was sold to Kindred.

In 2007, the Community/In-Home Services Division of the Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging was restructured as the Eldercare Services Institute, LLC. A second limited liability company—Benjamin Rose Property, LLC—was created to oversee the properties on Fairhill Blvd. and Euclid Heights Blvd.

In 2013, the Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging moved into the first dedicated headquarters in the Institute's 104-year history. This new home, at 11890 Fairhill Road, confirms the Institute's commitment to the City of Cleveland. It also will support the historic mission of developing and managing innovative long-term services and supports, conducting research that further improves our understanding of services for older people and the policies that make better services possible, and sharing the organization's work here and across the country.

In September 2014, the Golden Age Centers of Greater Cleveland joined the Benjamin Rose family as Rose Centers for Aging Well, LLC. The subsidiary organization provides home-delivered meals, as well as hot lunches and programs in seven senior center locations.