A Look Back: Growing and Changing with the Times
At the core of Elim Park is a deep, abiding faith in God and His wondrous works. Surrounding that core is a layer of people who, throughout the years, have given of themselves: their time, their talents, their gifts and their knowledge and wisdom.
May 15, 1906: The idea for Elim Park is born at a gathering at the First Swedish Baptist Church in Brooklyn, New York. The group plans to purchase “a home in the country” that would be used for summer guests.
December 1906: The group agrees to the purchase of a farm comprising 80 acres, a 12-room house, several barns, tillable land and a chestnut tree forest in Shelton, Connecticut.
June 23, 1907: Elim Park Baptist Home, a rest home for people of all ages, is dedicated.
Profile: Instrumental in cleaning and getting the home ready for opening was a young missionary from Sweden, Mary Melby. Fresh from service as an advocate for new immigrants at Ellis Island, Miss Melby served as Elim Park’s first superintendent, refusing any pay. Mary Melby humbly dedicated her life to Elim Park, returning her monthly pay to the home’s budget and remaining its superintendent until 1921. She passed away in 1925. Her tireless work for Elim Park — as well as her unswerving faith in God — are remembered and respected to this day. For many, Mary represents the type of people who have served at Elim Park over the years.
1911: The facility has become a year-round Home for the Aged with 15 residents ranging in age from 50 to 83. Hundreds still come to Elim Park during the summer months.
1920s: Many changes, both large and small, are made, including the purchase of a large tent for summer meetings, additional bedrooms and bathrooms, enlarging the dining room and the hiring of a full-time nurse.
1932: Elim Park celebrates its 25th anniversary and continues expansion.
1943: The original building, dubbed “The Lodge,” is fully renovated. By 1946, 48 people — including staff — live at Elim Park, still a working farm, producing 70 quarts of milk daily, 125 pounds of butter monthly, and selling an abundance of eggs to the local community.
1950: Elim Park’s first Open House — now an annual event — is held. It is also a turning point for the organization; the facility at Shelton requires significant upgrades to meet State regulations. If upgrades cannot be made, Elim Park would have to let most of its residents go.
1956: Elim Park celebrates its 50th anniversary with plans to move to Cheshire.
March 16, 1958: Elim breaks ground and the new building is ready for dedication and occupation in June, 1959. The much-needed new building serves as “an appropriate memorial to a great service wrought by God’s unfailing grace and kind providence.”
1960s-1970s: A new era begins with continuing expansion. The Chapel and a new wing are completed in 1961; the nursing care wing is expanded to 30 beds in 1969; and a new addition with a 60-bed Skilled Nursing Facility, a larger kitchen, dining room, physical therapy room, and recreation room, are dedicated in October 1973. A full-time recreation director is hired in 1971 to create a state-certified recreational program and our current chaplain, the Rev. Glenn Havumaki, joins Elim Park in 1979.
1980: Elim Park has become an important part of the Cheshire community. The annual Open House and Christmas Festival are landmark events, drawing hundreds of people from the community.
June 5th, 1982: On the occasion of our 75th Anniversary Open House, heavy rains and flooding interrupt the celebration and the doors of Elim Park are opened to those from the town whose homes are flooded and to travelers who are stranded. Those who needed help found food, shelter, and warmth within our walls.
Times change: It becomes clear in the early 1980s that as people are living longer, older adults need more choices for their retirement years. Many in the Christian community are looking for safe, attractive housing for the active years of their retirement. Elim Park Place is planned for this group of people.
January 1985: Elim breaks ground for Mallard Mill, 40 independent living apartments. Other buildings will follow.
1990s: Village Green, with 20 apartments and a beautiful Community Center, are opened. Brooksvale follows in 1995 with 38 apartments and in 1998, Andrews Knoll increases the community with an additional 40 apartment-homes.
2000s: Mountain View adds 40 apartments and restaurant-style dining room in 2002, and in 2004 Spring Meadow adds the last 40 apartments.Today: Elim Park has a grand total of six independent living neighborhoods containing 218 apartments.