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Horizon House marks 50th year from May to September

From May 19 through September, Horizon House will celebrate its 50th anniversary as the first senior retirement community in downtown Seattle, said Bob Anderson, who has been its CEO for 12 years.

Horizon House

Molly Cone and Ann Sandstrom, Horizon House residents, head a committee to produce a book containing 50 years of Horizon House history

There will be a Celebration of Art to recognize the first signing of the contract to purchase the Baldwin Apartments, at 900 University St., in 1961. 

Since then, there were additions to two towers in 1983 and 1984, and a new section in 2007, so the facility now houses 550 seniors.

Known as a community that sees the arts as important, the May 19 event will unveil major paintings by four Northwest artists, which Horizon House is adding to its collection.  Other art will be on display on the walls of the promenade, a walkway in the facility.

Sunday, May 1, as part of the PNC Annual Meeting in Seattle, there will be an open house and tour of Horizon House.

Sept. 15 to 17 will be three days of celebrating the only UCC-sponsored retirement community in the Northwest.

Since January, a committee of residents has been writing a history of the community that will look at the past, present and future of Horizon House, which was organized through Plymouth Congregational UCC and the conference.

The moving forces behind its development were Plymouth’s former senior pastor Martin Goslin; former conference minister Archie Hook, and two UCC leaders, Myrtle Edwards, former Seattle City Council member, and Charles Norman, former director of the YMCA.

They wanted to create a suitable alternative for people wanting to retire in Seattle, said Joan Carufel, director of community relations for 18 years at Horizon House.

“It was started to serve seniors who were diverse financially and socially,” she said.

Anderson said the idea grew beyond just being a residence to providing health care and food services.

“We’re the oldest retirement center in downtown Seattle, but we continue to renew ourselves by upgrading our buildings and living out our mission as a dynamic, diverse community of seniors,” he said.  “We serve seniors who continue to reach out to serve the broader community.”

For example, Horizon House is the primary sponsor for the Northwest Center for Creative Aging, now in its third year as a collaborative venture drawing together nonprofit agencies, services and organizations.

“It is established to help seniors share with each other how they find meaning in their lives,” he said, adding that part of the role is to facilitate conversations, offer workshops and provide training on topics that connect seniors with seniors on that theme.

Recently the Three Amigos, a Protestant pastor, Jewish rabbi and Muslim imam, presented a program on “The Spirituality of Aging.”

The University of Washington offers three different classes each quarter at Horizon House, and Seattle University brings one lecturer and offers one campus experience each quarter through their partnership agreement with Horizon House, said Carufel.

“Over the years, there has been an increase in interest in retirement communities,” Anderson said.  “Our supported living model combines assisted living and nursing care.

Another pioneering program is our geriatric medical clinic open seven days a week, staffed by a nurse practitioner who oversees all aspects of medical care for residents,” he added.

Anderson said the focus on wellness is a major part of the trend in retirement living, so the facilities provide fitness, personal training and aquatics.  The health care incorporates acupuncture, tai chi, yoga and massage therapy.

Over her years of marketing, Carufel has seen people wanting to live in community where they will continue to learn, grow and participate in community. 

Residents are able to make choices from room color and layout to events they want to participate in, she said..

As a nonprofit, we are committed that no one should have to leave our community because of inability to pay,” Anderson said.  “With an endowment with a balance of $7.2 million, we spend more than $400,000 a year to support residents who have exhausted their resources, there is fund raising that anchors our mission of neighbors helping neighbors residents.”

Horizon House is open to people of all economic levels.  The lowest entry fee starts under $30,000 and monthly fees are about $1,400. An Entrance Assistance Fund subsidizes up to half the entrance fee.

“Our role is to support our residents in realizing their goals in life.  People have goals at any age, however modest the goals are,” Anderson said, telling of a 95-year-old resident who played piano for the supportive living residents in the afternoon and played bridge in the evening before she died.

For information, call 206-382-3601 or email or


Copyright Pacific Northwest Conference News © April 2011





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