The Congregational Home for older citizens, better known as Brewster Place, began as a dream of Frances Engler (Mrs. Roy Engler). Her elderly aunt was experiencing difficulties living alone and Frances and Roy couldn’t find a suitable place for her to live conveniently and comfortably. They both wondered why other churches besides the Methodist church had not built homes for their seniors. One day Roy Engler said to his wife, “Why don’t we offer our church ten acres of our farm for a building site…maybe we could start something.” And so it began!
The Englers took their idea and offer of land to their pastor, Rev. Ned Burr McKenney. Rev. McKenney took the idea to other Congregational churches in the area and by 1958, representatives of four local Congregational churches were granted a corporate charter for The Congregational Home.
Regardless of the corporate title (The Congregational Home), our community became known as Brewster Place, named after William Brewster (1567-1644), an outstanding Congregationalist and one of the leaders of the Plymouth Colony.The first Executive Director, Mr. Nathan Barr, was hired in 1961 and by 1964 construction of the Main Building was complete and the first tenants arrived. By 1969 the medical facility doubled in size with construction of a second floor. Brewster continued its growth by adding 38 living units in 1972 – Brewster West. In 1979, 38 more living units were constructed including cottages and apartments. Mr. Ron Schmoller took the helm as Executive Director in 1980 after Nathan Barr retired. Brewster East opened in 1987, with the first residents taking occupancy in June of that year.In more recent years, under the leadership of Mr. David Beck who became President/CEO in 1997, Brewster continued its growth and service to the community by adding the Brewster Health Center, the Grand Homes, The newly named Beck Rehab Center at Brewster Place, The Cottonwood Villas and plans for a new cultural arts center expansion. Mr. Beck retired after 22 years of service at the end of 2018.
In the fall of 2019, the Brewster Board of Directors completed a nation-wide search and hired Mr. Joe Ewert as the next President and CEO. Joe took the reigns in January 2019 and brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to this post. When asked about his new role at Brewster Place and what his vision is for our community, Joe said, “I truly believe in the mission and vision of Brewster Place. I believe we can provide residents with opportunities that no other organization in Topeka can.” He continued, “I want to help people pursue their calling, to find meaning and purpose, and to enjoy being valued as a member of the special community that is Brewster. I want our community to be so vibrant that we can all feel the days at Brewster are the best days of our lives.” We are proud of the Brewster story. Our 30+ acre campus is beautiful and inviting, however, our true pride, comes from the award-winning services we provide and the difference we make in the lives of seniors – compassionate care, providing opportunities to our residents and others to achieves an optimal quality of life, fellowship and friendship – we believe these things are our legacy! We invite you to come, join the Brewster family and be part of the Brewster story!
Images © Earl Richardson