Publisher's desk

Life on a Merry-Go-Round



Bob Capazzo

                                                                                                                   
Some refer to it as the Mews, other call it the Merry-Go-Round, and there are all too many who, even if they have heard of it by either name, don’t have a clue of what it is or even where it is. Yet it is a unique Greenwich institution and important town asset that over the years has made life more livable and enjoyable for many hundreds of our senior citizens.

Located at the corner of Arch Street and Bolling Place across from the post office, the red brick, four-story building is home to  as many as eighty-eight senior citizens.

The Mews can best be described as a residential hotel where older single people of modest means can lead a safe, dignified and independent life in the heart of downtown Greenwich. While the Mews offers limited assisted living facilities, its emphasis is on independence. Residents are free to come and go, to walk the Avenue, to shop and dine out or go to the movies. Each has their own front-door key for the occasions when they come back late.

Yet there’s plenty for them to do in the Mews itself, and participation in social activities is encouraged. The public areas  are attractively furnished, the dining room serves three meals a
day with no pre-assigned schedule for seating, and the atmosphere is that of a family hotel rather than an institution.

The founder of the Mews was Nan Rockefeller, wife of Stillman Rockefeller, and a lady of infinite energy, determination and humor who became a legend in her own time. The Mews grew out of a recreational center for seniors called the Merry-Go-Round, which she helped found in 1949. Staffed by volunteers who served wholesome meals to seniors, it ran on a shoestring, according to Nan’s oral history, often with only fifty cents left in the till at the end of the day. Then, so the story goes, an elderly widow living alone, burned herself badly while cooking. The germ of the idea for the Mews was planted. How many other widows or widowers, Nan wondered, were living alone in houses too large and too costly for them to handle, for whom cooking and housekeeping had become a danger and a burden, yet who still wanted to enjoy their independence as well as a social life? She conceived the Mews as a modestly priced apartment house designed specifically for these independent-minded elderly people. It would be the first of its kind in Connecticut.

After purchasing and demolishing a boarding house next door, Nan went in search of financing. Accompanied by several supporters, she went to Hartford to seek an FHA loan. The FHA had never loaned on a senior residential hotel and abruptly turned her down. Undaunted, Nan returned with a new team of supporters, was again denied and out of anger and frustration burst into tears. This exhibition apparently softened the hearts of the government officials, and she got her loan. She later said in jest that the Mews was founded on a woman’s tears.

The four decades since the founding of the Mews has witnessed a major shift in elderly demographics and lifestyles. With people living much longer and able to enjoy a healthy, active life during their retirement years, the average age of those entering assisted-living facilities nationally has risen from seventy-five to eighty-five. The corollary is a shortened length of stay and an increased turnover. Though not in the category of an assisted living facility, the Mews has experienced much the same trend. Defying the averages, however, are two Mews residents who are over one hundred years old and doing quite well, thank you.

In order to qualify for residence, an applicant must meet certain minimum requirements for independent living as certified by a physician. The Mews has a live-in nursing staff to handle most noncritical situations, but if someone requires continued nursing care, most often due to dementia, other arrangements must be made for them. The facility operates without any town, state or federal subsidy, yet the rents are fairly modest: a single room with full bath and three meals a day is $1,910 per month; two-room suites start at $3,000. Still, some residents outlive their income,
but the Mews has never turned them out. Their rent is paid with money from an annual fundraising campaign.

Nan Rockefeller died in 1994 at the age of ninety-three, but the Mews remains her legacy of service to our elderly and one more facility of which our town can be justifiably proud.

 

Greenwich Agenda

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  • Greenwich Area Newcomers Annual Lobster Fest

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     @ Tod's Point Clambake Area

    This is our kickoff event each year-held at Tod's Point Clambake area. The event is scheduled for Sunday September 14th starting...

  • Bach with Verse Concert & Reception at First Presbyterian Church Greenwich

    2014.09.14

    Bach with Verse Concert and reception at First Presbyterian Church Greenwich, One West Putnam Ave. (top o’ the Avenue), 4:00 – 6:00...

  • Bach With Verse

    2014.09.10
     @ First Presbyterian Church Greenwich

    BAch With Verse concert event on Sun., Sept. 14 at 4pm with recception to follow at the First Presbyterian Church, Greenwich. Hour-long concet...

  • Nigh Season: New Paintings By David Konigsberg

    2014.09.13
     @ Kenise Barnes Fine Art

    Dates: September 13 – October 31, 2014 Opening Reception: September 13, 6 – 8:30 PM  Public Invited   NIGH...

  • Undulate: Paintings By Julie Gross and Margaret Neill

    2014.09.13
     @ Kenise Barnes Fine Art

    GALLERY II Dates: September 13 – October 31, 2014 Opening Reception: September 13, 6 – 8:30 PM Public Invited...

  • Parties at the JCC Center

    2014.09.02
     @ Stamford JCC

    A place to celebrate birthdays and special occasions. Be a guest at your own party! The JCC offers a wonderful space for you and your guests to...

  • SM&NC Farm Market

    2014.06.15
     @ Stamford Museum & Nature Center

    Sundays, June 15 – October 5, 10am – 2pm We're thrilled to bring back the SM&NC Farm Market — now on Sundays!...

  • Information Fair

    2014.09.16
     @ YMCA

    Our Annual Information Fair - This event showcases non profits , community businesses, schools and  services in the Greenwich...

  • Greenwich Harbor Sunset Wine Cruise | Greenwich, CT

    2014.06.05
     @ Delamar Hotel Dock

    The boat "Prudence" departs from the Delamar Hotel Dock on 500 Steamboat Rd. All the wine is sponsored through VALS with food...

  • Laurel House Family Seminar Series

    2014.09.18
     @ Laurel House

    Thursday evenings, September 18, October 2, 16, 30, 6:30-8:00 pm Join us Thursday evenings for this four part Family Seminar Series as...

  • Isaia Fall Trunk Show

    2014.09.19
     @ Richards

  • The Many Faces of Multi Media

    2014.09.20
     @ Meli-Melo of Greenwich

    Dr. Julia Trebing, Director Creative Therapies in Stamford, CT exhibits her paintings at Meli-Melo Creperie & Juice Bar  during Sept...

  • SoulCycle GWCH for Make-A-Wish CT

    2014.09.20
     @ SoulCycle

    Make-A-Wish Connecticut is thrilled to be partnering with SoulCycle's Greenwich location for a charity ride on Saturday, September 20th!...

  • Wall Street Tennis Challenge

    2014.09.20
     @ Greenwich Country Club

    The goal of The Wall Street Tennis Challenge is to support the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation’s efforts while spreading awareness...

  • Nam Cho Trunk Show

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  • Arts & Crafts on Bedford

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     @ Bedford Street

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    2014.09.21
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