Legacy Place Cottages

Allentown, PA

As the first Jehovah’s Witness senior care homes in the United States, Legacy Place Cottages enable elders from the church to live with and be cared for by brothers and sisters in their faith. Modeled after Jah-Jireh homes in Great Britain, these small houses are “wholly dedicated to accommodation and care of members of the community of Jehovah’s Witnesses in a loving, spiritual environment staffed by brothers and sisters.”  The Legacy Place cottages provide aging members of the faith with a residence to support their physical needs as well as their lifelong spiritual practices.  Phase I included a memory care small house and two paired personal care small houses.

Small House Memory Support Setting for Jehovah’s Witnesses

The memory support small house is organized by private, public and service zones. The private zone includes the 12 resident rooms and spa. Living, dining and outdoor spaces, including a screened porch, comprise the public areas. The service zone is accessed through the residential garage for deliveries, storage and staff functions.

The open great room includes the living room with fireplace, dining room and kitchen, and is organized to bring daylight into the space from both sides. This encourages residents to access the outdoors and helps alleviate sundowning issues for residents experiencing dementia since the living spaces remaining bright all day. The parlor provides a flexible space that serves as a quiet den, meeting room and even an overnight room for guests.

Blending Into The Residential Neighborhood

Situated in a residential neighborhood, the house features Craftsman style detailing. The memory care small house takes advantage of the site topography with a daylight basement that allows much of the mechanical equipment to be located away from the living areas and easily accessible for service without disrupting residents.  The remaining space is currently used for storage with future plans and “rough-ins” for a future meeting and worship space for members of the faith, and especially Legacy Place residents as they age and may have more difficulty getting to off-site locations.

An Intentional, Faith-Based Community for Memory Support

The lifestyle of a Jehovah Witness can lead members to feel uncomfortable within a traditional retirement community setting.  Members do not celebrate holidays or birthdays and are ministry-oriented, often holding part-time jobs and spending the remainder of their time on church activities. The small house design is perfectly suited to creating an intentional community that enables elderly members to continue their spiritual routine and live in a place where their faith practices are understood and supported.

The Legacy Place cottages were designed and built with funds donated by members of the Jehovah’s Witness community.  Designed to adapt to residents’ changing, and likely increasing, care needs as they age, the Legacy Place cottages enable elders to remain in a familiar and comfortable environment they prefer. Artwork selections reflect their faith focus.

Most important for this community is the support provided to help each resident maintain a robust spiritual lifestyle. The small house model allows the fully staffed care partners, who are all Jehovah’s Witnesses, to be completely engaged with the operation of the house as well as the lives of the residents. A spiritually qualified brother takes the lead in coordinating activities including daily text consideration, weekly Family Worship night, mid-week field service arrangements, and transportation to all meetings and assemblies.  The country kitchens and family-sized tables are used for all meals where staff members and residents dine together. The small houses provide an intentional community that honors autonomy and privacy, as well as fostering opportunities for developing close personal relationships between residents, their families, and staff.

Honorable Mention and Publication in Environments for Aging Design Showcase / Exhibition and Publication in Design for Aging Review

Photography Credit:  Nathan Cox Photography

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