BRATTLEBORO — Community members gathered in the Brooks House Atrium Friday evening to celebrate the Holton Home and Bradley House merger.
About six months ago, Holton Home, a Level III residential care home located on Western Avenue, took over management of the Bradley House, a Level III residential care home located on Harris Avenue. On December 31, 2015 the two homes officially merged, but the two will continue to operate separately, as Bradley House and Holton Home, both under the governance of the Holton Home Board.
"We want to make sure that Brattleboro has all the high quality rooms and homes needed for our community's elders as they age and can no longer live independently," said executive director of the Bradley House, Cindy Jerome. "And it was clear to us after Holton Home managed Bradley House for six months, and both boards agreed, that working together in a more formal way would be an advantage to us both."
The boards felt it in was in their best interests to work together in order to improve operations and move forward with major capital improvement plans for Bradley House. Display boards were presented at the celebration, which showed the planned construction project that will include renovations of the mansion at Bradley House and an addition on the North East side of the building that will include renovations, the construction of additional rooms, common spaces and bathrooms. According to Jerome, every room will have its own bathroom that will include accessible showers, which she says is a step in the right direction from the current tub bathrooms that are dangerous for residents to climb in and out of at that age.
"At Bradley House many residents need to share a bathroom and that really doesn't work for older folks. They need their own bathroom that they're comfortable in and nobody else is using, and certainly that is an expectation with the current generation that we are serving let alone the coming generation," Jerome said.
Community members and residents of both residential homes listened to Jerome as she expressed her excitement with the new project. Her voice echoed throughout the atrium that was recently constructed and opened to the public in 2014. Bob Stevens, of Stevens & Associates, led the development team for the Brooks House project, is one of the five owners of the Brooks House, and will now take on the project at the Bradley House.
"We're happy to be working on it and find a solution that will work for the Bradley House to meet their needs," said Stevens. "They have some needs to improve the older building and yet keep the charm of that as well as add an additional unit, so it's a fun challenge, we love to do old buildings and be working with clients like this."
The Bradley House was built by Richards Bradley in 1858 as a project for his new bride, Sarah Bradley. The Bradley estate was sold in 1940 to Fred Harris, of Harris Hill Ski Jump, and in 1946 he sold it to the Hopkins family, who then converted the house into apartments to provide additional living accommodations during the post-World War II housing shortage. In the 1960s, the Vermont State Baptist Convention took over and established a retirement home that was eventually renamed "Hilltop House." Forty years later, in 2003, Hilltop House was incorporated as a private non-denominational nonprofit and in July 2013, to honor the original owners of this home, Hilltop House was renamed "The Bradley House."
As for Holton Home, its history dates back to 1882. A request was sent to the town's newspaper, The Vermont Phoenix, about the need for a home for the disabled and elderly. The General Assembly of the State of Vermont enacted the incorporation of "The Brattleboro Home for the Aged and Disabled" on November 19, 1892. According to the Holton Home website, "a gift of $5000 from Elisha D. Smith enabled the purchase of land and a farmhouse on Western Avenue, the estate of William H. Esterbrook where Holton Home is still located today." The building was dedicated on December 29, 1897 and the first residents arrived that year.
"It's going to be a win-win situation for all of the residents," said Corwin "Corky" Elwell, who serves on the Bradley House Board.
Windham Wines provided champagne for the event and the guest at the celebration toasted to the merger and the work that has been done by the boards.
"I'm excited to bring Bradley House back to where it was in terms of being on the cutting edge," said Linda Rice, president of the Board at Holton Home. "It has maintained that in terms of the care provided to the residents, but like any old home, the structure needs help. So we're excited about the work that is to be done"