Jennings Terrace Inc
Office: 275 S LaSalle St, Aurora IL 60505

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About Jennings Terrace in Aurora, IL

Company Service - About Us in Aurora, IL
Jennings Terrace, Inc. is a not-for-profit 501 (c) (3) organization providing quality, affordable senior housing and health/memory care in a community setting. Jennings Terrace received its charter as a non-profit, independent corporation in 1943 to purchase and establish the Jennings Terrace Retirement Home on the near east-side of Aurora, Illinois. The Seminary that had stood on the property since 1858 had been closed and a new life for the property began when a group of concerned local citizens backed the proposal to establish and open a home for the aged. The updated Retirement and Assisted Services facility was built on the property in 1961. In 1985, to meet the changing needs of elder care, an expansion was completed on the 11 acre property to offer nursing healthcare and memory services. Known as the Kemmerer Annex, it was funded by years of contributions to the Building Fund and a larger donation from the Kemmerer family.
The property, funds and affairs of the Jennings Terrace Corporation are controlled by our Board of Trustees:
President – Duane Kleckner
Vice President – Jonathan Beirtz
Secretary – Jess Toussaint
Treasurer – Doug Cheatham
Board Members: Lynn Akers, Joe Jacobs, Michael Marzec, MD; Tim McCann and Mollie Millen.
Mission & Goals: Our Mission to provide Nursing Care, Memory Assistance, Independent, Assisted Living and Short-term Stay services to individuals age 50 years of age or more is in direct response to the needs of the area communities. Our nursing, activity, dietary and social services departments all work together to plan and provide person-centered care to our residents. In keeping with our Vision Statement to provide affordable, high quality care, we are one of the lowest cost providers of senior living care service in Aurora. As compared to our top five area competitors, our monthly fees are on average 30% less for Independent Living, 20% less for Assisted Living and 28% less for Nursing Care. 13% of our Nursing Care residents are Medicaid and the rest are private pay. In 2007, a Veterans Wing was designated to serve the independent lifestyle of our honored Veterans. With a special pricing of just $875 per month that includes a furnished room and meals. We feel at our current capacity and price, our senior living and healthcare service is vital to our community.

Partnerships: In the delivery of our nursing care services we collaborate with Hospice organizations, physical and occupational therapy providers and physicians. We seek additional community collaborations to strengthen our mission in caring for our seniors. We offer our facility to Waubonsee Community College for Licensed Nursing and Certified Nurse Aide (CNA) student clinical training. Approximately 96 students train here each year under the direction of Waubonsee educators. The 36 nursing students participate in job-shadowing of our nurses and interactive care of the residents. Annually, the Aurora University Senior Class of Nursing collaborates with the Jennings Terrace nursing staff to develop a special project issue. Our Activity, Dietary, Maintenance and Housekeeping departments extend career opportunity training to the Quad County Urban League youth, Fox Tech & Trade Center students and Wayside Cross. Jennings also enjoys partnerships for community service with East and West Aurora High Schools, Rosary and Aurora Central Catholic High Schools.

Volunteers: In addition to our volunteer Board of Trustees, Jennings most significant relationship is with our Auxiliary of volunteers. Established in 1958, the Jennings Terrace Auxiliary has been the fund raising and volunteer support of Jennings Terrace. The current 75 members led by the Auxiliary Council fundraise about $8,000 annually, help with resident activities and run the on-site General Store. Other volunteers provide entertainment, pet therapy, drive the courtesy van for resident pleasure trips and socialize with our residents. The Kiwanis Club runs monthly Bingo on site and Ginger Creek Church provides a “Day of Caring” each year and monthly craft sessions. Throughout the year, scout, school and church groups provide entertainment for resident enjoyment. Local ministers and priests provide religious services weekly. Our Residents offer their time for the Community as well. The St. Mark's Lutheran Church Quilting Group visits monthly to work with our residents to tie/finish quilts for Lutheran World Relief while others stuff and label envelopes for area non-profit groups. Without volunteer support, Jennings Terrace would not be able to maintain our affordable rates.

Fundraising: As we work diligently to keep our reasonable rates, we look to fundraising and grants to help us with larger facility improvements. Since 1958, the Auxiliary annually conducts two major fundraisers: the summer Ice Cream Social and the Fall Bazaar. The events are held on-site for easy accessibility for resident and family participation. We extend our Annual Campaign & Wish List mailing to current and past families, vendors and area businesses. Although many of our families support our efforts, many have limited incomes and their giving capacity is limited. Many times families include Jennings as a Memorial choice for their loved one. In recent years we have received grant funding from the City of Aurora CDBG, Kane County Community Development Fund, the Kane County Riverboat Fund, The Community Foundation of the Fox River Valley and the Hollywood Casino Donation Committee. Grant makers have recently helped us improve our showers for assisted services, purchase a 12 passenger courtesy van with lift, improve our nursing bathing station with a spa tub and replace our 23,000 square foot roof on our nursing facility.

Our History

The Jennings Story…Compiled by Vernon Derry, 1972
  • Clark Seminary and Aurora Institute
  • Jennings Seminary
  • Old Jennings Terrace
  • New Jennings Terrace
Over a century ago, on the hill where old Jennings Terrace building stood through many changing years, life was far different from that which we are now accustomed. Houses were far apart — woods stretched down to the river — springs and brooks trickled thru the brush covered slope — a stone quarry across the way — trains were drawn by tiny puffing engines — smart looking phaetons with high-stepping horses — men with high-topped silk hats and Prince Alberts — women with wide flowing skirts and queer shaped bonnets. But hearts beat high with hopes of a great nation – The prairies and mountains of the far west were calling; the lure of the new found gold drew pioneer men and women to seek fabulous fortunes. But the rich soil of Illinois held prospects of slower but more certain prosperity. The present city of Aurora was a growing, ambitious village of some seven thousand people. In fact, Aurora was two villages: Aurora and West Aurora. The old Jennings building was started when these two villages voted to become the City of Aurora. Perhaps we should start at the very beginning of the Jennings story.
The Reverend John Clark became an ordained Methodist Minister in his native New York state in the early 1820's, but eventually left the pulpit of a wealthy church to become a missionary among the Indians of northern Illinois before the white man settled the area. Later he became pastor of the Clark Street M.E. Church of Chicago and was founder of Great Biblical Institute (which later became a part of Northwestern University) and the Mount Morris (Ill.) Seminary. Reverend Clark was determined to promote a Christian high school and chose the Fox Valley for its location. Thus enthused, while pastor of the Chicago Church, he planted his ideas in the minds of leading citizens of Aurora and moved to this city, building one of the first homes near the Seminary. (Clark Street in Chicago was named for him) Rev. John Clark died in Aurora in 1854 during a cholera epidemic before any decisive action had been taken on the proposed school. His remains were interred in the old Root Street Cemetery. His plans, however, were carried forward by the men who had supported them.

In February 1855 the Charter for the proposed school was procured through the efforts of Benjamin Hackney, our representative to the legislature. Hon. Hackney was one of Aurora's most prominent citizens in those days and contributed much toward Aurora's growth and prosperity. The first decisive board meeting was held at the exchange bank of A. Jenks & Co. The board members present were Daniel McCarty, Benjamin Hackney, J.H. Lathrop, J.R. Baker, Jesse McDole, W.P. Richardson and Levi Jenks. At this meeting a committee was appointed to select a site for the seminary. Both sides of the village were keenly interested in securing the school, however, the site at Broadway and North Avenue was selected and the grounds purchased in September, 1855.

Bids for the foundation were called for in February 1856 when the trustees announced that the $25,000 required by charter had been subscribed. The contract was let to Corwin & Co. for $4,220. Work started in April of 1856, and finished in August. Methodist Bishops, Simpson and Jones delivered eloquent addresses at the corner stone laying ceremony in September. Music was furnished by a newly formed Aurora Brass Band led by Carl Eitelgeorge. The trustees made arrangements to increase the amount of stock subscriptions to $55,000 so that construction might be started.

The contract for the building was let to Hodgeman & Babcock of Fort Edward, N.Y., in 1857. One year later the keys were turned over to the trustees. A series of financial embarrassments followed. Collections were slow coming in and the bills were piling up and had to be paid. The board members shouldered the responsibility of personally paying all indebtedness.The directors thought it might bring in necessary revenue by purchasing land south-west of the Seminary and sell lots. While this plan worked later in Aurora's history, it produced little for the school. Plat books of Aurora still show Clark Seminary Addition.

School began in the fall of 1858 with the operation of a small school while the rest of the seminary was being furnished and a faculty hires. Miss Jemima Washburn, then in charge of Fowler Institute at Newark, Illinois, assisted by three other ladies, taught the 40 pupils. Miss Washburn remained as principal that first school year, until June 14, 1859.In the meantime, George W. Quereau left his teaching position in East Greenwich, Rhode Island to accept the office of principal at the new Clark Seminary. He served in this capacity from 1859 until 1873. No one person contributed so much to the success of the seminary as did Professor Quereau. The school was $60,000 in debt when he started at the institution and when he left that debt had been erased and a surplus was in the treasury. The good professor asked for a leave of absence in 1867 and traveled for his health with Mark Twain. During these travels, the latter was compiling his notes for the book “Innocents Abroad”. The professor mentioned in this book was Dr. Quereau. He returned to the Seminary after a few months and supervised its education until resigning in 1873. After a few more years traveling, the professor came to the rescue of the defaulting Aurora Silver Plate Company and before long this plant was one of Aurora's most prosperous industries. He passed away in 1900 and was buried in Spring Lake cemetery. His wife also taught at the Seminary. Their daughter married the late Dr. George Allen.

The Clark Seminary sold in 1864, with all its equipment, representing an investment of $80,000 was sold to the Rock River conference for $25,000. At this time, Mrs. Eliza Jennings of South Lake Street contributed $15,000 toward paying the debt. The school was to be named Jennings Seminary in her honor. It would revert to her heirs if the name was ever changed again.

Jennings Seminary, school for young women, prospered once the financial difficulties were ironed out and became one of the finest private high schools in the middle west. The average attendance for the first eight years was 309. Some years it ran as high as 500. Many students graduated from the Seminary who became famous in their own right. One such person was I.C. Copley of newspaper fame. Colonel Copley was also president of the Jennings Seminary alumni in 1892 and 1894. In the year of 1898 the Rock River Conference of the Methodist Church for saw the trend of education leaning heavily toward public schools, and turned the seminary over to the Deaconess Society of the M. E. church. From that date until its closing, the Seminary became a high school for girls only. Miss Charlotte Codding was the principal in the reorganized Seminary with 35 pupils. The number increased to over 100 annually at the end of her six years as principal. From 1904 to 1928 Miss Bertha Barber became principal and brought the school to a high standard of efficiency. In 1911 the institution was accredited by the North Central Associations of Colleges and Secondary Schools. In 1913 the lot north of the school was purchased to enlarge the grounds. In 1928 Miss Abbie Probasco, former missionary to China, was chosen superintendent and served until 1933. During these years new modern methods of instruction were introduced with a standard of higher education. Commercial courses were also introduced. Mrs. Mina Malek, ordained minister of the M. E. church assumed charge of the school and accomplished much considering the depression years. After serving the middle west for over eighty years, the Seminary closed its doors in June of 1942. Miss Margaret DeBooy was the last principal of this historic school.

A disastrous and costly fire occurred in the Seminary on March 18, 1906. The blaze started in the roof, caused by a defective chimney. The upper half story and the roof were destroyed and the rest of the building and furnishings badly damaged by water. The building, however, was restored in time for the fall term the following September. The fire caused much commotion in the council chambers at city hall. It seems the city had just purchased a new fire hose which was first used at the Jennings fire. It was apparent that an inferior hose was shipped to the city. When the firefighters attempted to extinguish the flames the hose sprang so many leaks it was impossible to force water higher than the second floor. Finally, a call was placed to the water pumping station to increase the pressure, but to little avail. The hose broke as fast as they could couple more lengths. Faucets all over town sprang leaks. Needless to say, the spectators were soaked to the skin while the fire roared on. At least the ‘steamer' was fired up and the brave firemen conquered the disaster. Most of the students were at church that Sunday morning so there were no injuries or loss of life. The girls did loose most of their personal belongings. When replaced, a hip roof was finished and the belfry eliminated.

The school bell was perched in the cupola high above the school grounds. It was rung by students every half hour. When the Seminary changed to a girls school in 1898 the bell had no further use so it was removed and put in storage. A few years later the Methodist Church received a request from one of its missionaries in China. A mission church had been built in Chung King and was in need of a bell to summon the parishioners to church. The Jennings bell was dusted off, autographed by Jennings' students and shipped to China. It was received by a Reverend Hall who had attended Jennings Seminary and had himself rang that same bell thousands of times to help defray his expenses at the school. The church and bell survived bombings during World War II. We pray it may still be ringing out its message to the faithful on the other side of our troubled globe.

In the southwest corner of Jennings campus stood a high 150 foot iron tower, installed in 1881. It was one of seven light standards built to light up the City of Aurora. The standards were installed on top of school buildings, the city hall or built up from the ground. Needless to say, with our lights 150 feet in the air, little of that light fell to the ground. At the end of a six year contract, the city council voted to do away with these tall towers and purchase their own lighting system. Since the latter was the first municipally-owned electric lighting plant covering an entire city, ours was called the ‘City of Lights'.

Jennings Terrace received its charter as a non-profit corporation of the State of Illinois on March 16, 1943. At that time the old stone building was in the process of renovation, remodeling and redecorating. The building had been permanently closed as a high school for girls known as Jennings Seminary under the auspices of the Methodist Church. The following July, a plan to turn the building into a home for the elderly was promoted by the late Rev. R. M. Furnish, then pastor of the First Methodist Church of Aurora.

In August, 1942 a resolution was adopted by the official board of First Methodist approving a plan to organize a non-profit corporation to purchase and operate the Jennings Seminary property as a home for senior citizens. From August 18, 1942 to March 30, 1943 a quiet and persistent solicitation of bond purchasers and acceptance of voluntary gifts to finance the project was pursued. On April 1, 1943 the property was purchased from the Methodist Church through Bishop Waldorf for the price of $17,500.00. At the time of the purchase, Bishop Waldorf stated that the property was being sold for a worthy purpose at exactly the amount of the deficit shown on the property on the books of the Rock River Conference of the Methodist Church. The property with the new Jennings Terrace home was appraised in 1961 at a figure of one million dollars, one-half million dollars in land improvements and one-million dollars in improvements. The home and property now have no affiliation with any one religious denomination, but operates as an independent organization.

On July 5th, 1943 the first residents were admitted to Jennings Terrace and on August 1, the home was filled with 64 residents with a waiting list in excess of 50. On October 26, 1943 Reverend Furnish announced that the total amount of $37,000.00 had been received from the sale of bonds and from gifts, thus providing the full amount of capital needed to purchase, remodel and renovate the property.

The annual report of Jennings Terrace dated July 1, 1944 states that the per capita cost of keep for 64 residents was $36.00 per month, and recommended the first increase of monthly rental for all rooms as follows: $31.00 rooms to $35.00; $35.00 rooms to $37.00, etc.The first Board of Trustees of Jennings Terrace was comprised of the President, Rev. R.M. Furnish; Vice-President, Oliver C. Anderson; Secretary, Mrs. Anna C. Ebinger; Treasurer, Willard E. Goetz and Board Members, James E. Harley, Mrs. Rudolph Lamme, Mrs. R.W. Snedeker, Mrs. Harry Spring and Harold E. Meyer.

A plan of operation of Jennings Terrace was adopted by the first Board of Trustees and the plan is still in operation. A physician's certificate of health is required of all applicants. No assignment of property to the home is required as the operating costs are provided for by the monthly rental fee. A private room, board, laundry and medical and nursing care are provided in the home's infirmary unit. All applicants are received with nursing reservations, meaning that they shall be cared for in the infirmary for ordinary illnesses, but must leave the home if an illness becomes so severe or prolonged that the facilities of the home are not adequate to care for them properly. Life tenure is not guaranteed. The resident may leave the home on thirty days notice, and the Board reserves the privilege of dismissing a resident on thirty days notice. Freedom of action is allowed all residents, with the exception of a minimum number of rules and regulations necessary for ordinary operation of a Christian Home.

Jennings Terrace is a non-profit home for elderly persons and is so chartered and licensed by the State of Illinois. Any money received in excess of the operating costs including reduction of indebtedness must be used for the improvement or expansion of the home's facilities or for the reduction of resident's fees. Special gifts and bequests are welcomed for the purpose of improving or expanding the home's facilities. In effect, Jennings Terrace is a Christian Boarding Home with the additional benefits which are granted.

On Friday, March 13 1959 Jennings Terrace burned with a loss of the lives of four male residents, namely, Ernest Stade, 81; Gasper Davis, 88; Alfred Franzen, 98; and Charles Bartholomew, 87.
On March 13, 1960 a ground breaking ceremony was held on the site of the destroyed building preparatory to the construction of the present new Jennings Terrace. The new structure was built by Ken Evans, Inc. of St. Louis, Missouri. The architect was Gale E. Henderson, also of St. Louis. This building cost well over half a million dollars, which included razing the old stone structure. The new home faces LaSalle Street with a secondary and a service entrance off Broadway. It has over 36,000 square feet of floor space, and accommodates eight more units that the old. The building is designed in a double cross arrangement, with a sun parlor at the end of each of the six dormitory wings to serve as a social center for the residents of that wing. There is a dining room, main entrance, lobby and a chapel on the main floor. The dining room seats about 115 persons and the chapel 60. With the removal of tables, the dining room can be expanded to accommodate 200 persons. The building is constructed of brick, steel and glass and has a pitched roof. A fireplace greets visitors in the main lobby. The grounds are landscaped and provisions made for off street parking.