CANTERBURY HOUSE-A HARBOR FOR THE AGING
By Lay Canon George Marshall, Editor
The Albany Episcopalian, September 2007, Volume 4, Issue 3 Reprinted with Permission of the Author
Long before the advent of assisted living facilities, adult homes, and county operated Social Services Departments; Troy Episcopalians have demonstrated their compassion to serve the elderly of the greater capital district. Once a charity home, it has evolved into the current senior housing facility, Canterbury House.
Its origins go back more than one hundred and fifty years ago when, in August of 1854, a committee of men and women representing Troy’s Episcopal Churches formed The Brotherhood of St. Barnabas. Led by The Reverend James Mulcahey, the Brotherhood proposed a “house of mercy” to address the needs of “the aged, the sick, the infirmed and the destitute” within their respective parishes.
Thanks to volunteer efforts and generous seed money, a home was prepared at 5 Harrison Place, Troy in only a few months time. Officially opened as The Church Asylum on November 9th, 1854, it began serving only women who were typically widowed or workers retired from nearby mills- often on a charity basis.
By 1863, the importance of the home had grown to the extent that it was necessary to incorporate. By Act of the New York State Legislature, the facility’s name then changed to The Church Home of the City of Troy, but was more commonly known as The Episcopal Church Home. The home flourished, thanks to the selfless work and generous giving by numerous Episcopalian benefactors committed to helping the less fortunate in their communities.
With the exception of a brief period to rebuild after Troy’s great fire of May 10th, 1862, the home has been in continuous operation since 1854. In the 1800’s the home moved twice from its original location to downtown Troy addresses, and rebuilt on its present location, 36 Pawling Avenue, Troy, in 1964. William R. Harrison, architect and faithful Board member for more than five decades, designed the new 16-bed facility, which opened in 1966.
The passage of time has brought many changes to the home since its early beginnings. In 1993, the Trustees elected to open up the home to male residents and non-Episcopalians. At approximately the same time, the facility’s name also changed to Canterbury House and opened its employment and service to people of all faiths.
One feature has remained constant throughout its rich history- affordability. No longer a charity home, its non-profit status allows Canterbury House to charge a very reasonable monthly rental fee. When compared to many current for profit retirement communities, Canterbury House provides an affordable option. Included in the monthly rent is: a furnished room, private bath, all meals home cooked served family style, snacks, housekeeping, utilities, 24/7 staffing, security system, social activities, and free cable television in community rooms. There is no lease to sign and no income restrictions. Residents may stay for long or short periods and not be retired nor continually in residence. Couples are also welcome. The home boasts to have a laundry facility, elevator, hair salon, and a chapel with regular church services. Each year the Episcopal Bishop of Albany visits to provide a special Christmas service.
A retirement home for independent seniors, Canterbury House is not for those seeking assisted living or nursing home facilities. Considered ideal for those seeking companionship and safety, it is not for those requiring enhanced medical services provided at
health care facilities. The typical resident is at a point in life where he/she no longer wants the physical upkeep of a house or apartment, shopping for food, cleaning or cooking. Referrals often come from caring friends or relatives who are concerned for a loved one living alone and for their emotional or nutritional needs.
Staff strives to provide delicious meals, an immaculate residence, and a friendly atmosphere, conducive to the quiet enjoyment and customer satisfaction of each resident. A dedicated Board of Trustees provides the oversight to ensure the highest of standards of quality are maintained. Cards and letters of “Thanks” are routine from residents and their family members, with words of praise, after they or their loved one has moved on.
Those desirous of learning more about Canterbury House are encouraged to contact the Administrator at (518) 272-2371.