Heritage Health Care Center

The Utica Winter of 1866 was recorded as being especially harsh, and this inspired a group of women from the Westminster Church to meet with Missionary, Louise Shepard. They planned to open a home for homeless women that they named the "Protestant Home for Respectable, Indigent, Aged Women of Oneida County in the City of Utica". This was accomplished in 1867, when the home opened on upper Whitesboro Street with nine women residents.

Theodore S. Faxton had already made plans to build a "Home for the Homeless in the City of Utica". Faxton promised the women $20,000 and the land to build on if they raised matching funds. When the women raised $24,324, he donated the entire cost of the building and the property. Benjamin F. Jewitt and his two sisters gave additional property on Faxton Street, and that, along with donations from several other Uticans, was to assure the future of the home.

The facility was often referred to as the "Old Ladies Home on Faxton Street", however it was best remembered as the Faxton Street Home.

The first St. Luke's Home was founded by the governing boards of the Grace Episcopal Church as a refuge for indigent women. Truman K. Butler donated a house on Columbia Street, and the name St. Luke's was chosen because of its association with "light" as a symbol of hope. Their mission was to provide "a source of light to those in darkness of carried sorrows; a refuge where the needy may find aid; the afflicted, consolation' and the sick, relief...". This home continued to care for women until 1905, when Mr. and Mrs. Frederick Proctor purchased land on Whitesboro Street, built and furnished a new St. Luke's Hospital. The hospital charter proclaimed the need to care for the elderly by providing a home and health care. A wing in this new St. Luke's Hospital met this pledge, and twelve women lived there until about 1962, when the last known resident, Mary Clark, died.

The Sunset Home began as a wing designated to care for aged men in Faxton Hospital. In 1885, the hospital elected a board of women known as the Ladies Aid Society to direct domestic affairs; this group was later designated as the Managers of Faxton Hospital. By 1890, the society wanted to buy property located across the street from the hospital on Perkins Avenue, owned by John C. Hieber for $6,000. Hieber gave them a donation of $1,000 and in July, John Thorne pledged $5,000, if the ladies could raise $30,000 in subscriptions. When the women made their goal, the newspaper headlines read "Hurray for the Ladies". By September 1890, the cornerstone for "Home for Aged Men" was laid by the Masonic Grand Lodge of New York, and Mr. Thomas Thorne became the first president of the board for the new home. By may 1899, so many men applied with their wives, the admission policies were changed along with the name, becoming the "Home for Aged Men and Couples". After paving of the street, both the name of the avenue and the home were changed to Sunset.

Theodore S. Faxton served as president of the Black River and Utica Railroad company, and the Second National Bank. He and a group of associates formed the first telegraph company in the world. They started the Buffalo, Albany, and New York Telephone Company. This company allowed the news to be transmitted across the state by telegraph, and it evolved into the Associated Press. Because he did so well with his business ventures it made it possible to do good for the Utica community.

Faxton responded to a need for care for the elderly of this community in the 1860's. He proved that one person concerned about others can make a difference, after over 100 years, his service to this community is still evident. One of his goals was to provide a clean safe and secure environment for the elderly in this community. He wanted to do this while promoting an individual's self determination, independence and dignity.

On May 1, 1867, the Home for the Homeless opened its doors thanks to his generosity. The same year he built Faxton Hall which was used as a school and community center for West Utica mill workers and now houses a branch of the Utica Public Library. In 1873, he built and endowed Faxton Hospital, which led to the opening of the Home for:

A Joint Venture

In 1971 the boards of directors of St. Luke's-Memorial Hospital, the Faxton Street Home and the Sunset entered a joint venture to build a seven story complex on the Sunset Home's property at the corner of Sunset Avenue and Burrstone Road in Utica. The facility opened in January 1977, and became known as the Faxton Sunset St. Luke's Health Related Facility and Nursing Home.

New Challenges

Changes in the delivery of heath care occur daily. Today's trend requires more patient and resident care in the home and community and less time in an institution.

Recognizing future community needs, the Faxton Sunset St. Luke's Home board of directors made plans in 1992 for changes that will effect resident care well into the new millennium. On August 4th, 1993, the name of the nursing home changed to Heritage Home. The board voted to change the name for two reasons: to make it shorter and easier to say and to clarify the fact that the facility was never affiliated with any of the area hospitals having similar names.

The first renovations, completed in January 1995, enlarged the parking area and installed a new service elevator and new lounges on floors three through seven. Construction of a new wing containing a general sub-acute unit, and renovations to the main complex, started in December 1995. Known as our Transitional Care Unit, patients began moving into the new wing during the summer of 1996.

With the addition of several rehabilitation services including outpatient rehabilitation, wellness services and a therapeutic pool, the focus of the home became more diverse. This kind of concern reflects the same benevolent attitudes held by Heritage Home's founding mothers and fathers over a century ago.

Heritage Home became Heritage Health Care Center, a far more descriptive reflection of our mission, reflecting our bold new approach to health care. Not only a home for some, but a place where others come to get well sooner, then return to their own home.