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

  • Harvest Fair and Gift Show

    2014.11.01
     @ Second Congregational Church

    Event Will Include Hay Mazes, Games, Crafts, Food, Holiday Shopping The community is invited to a Harvest Fair and Gift Show on Saturday, Nov....

  • New Fitness Class: SalsaTone

    2014.11.01
     @ Latin Moves Dance Studio

    Starting November 1st ~ Every Saturday morning 10 to 11 AM Instructor: Melissa Lopez Start your weekend off right with this exciting cardio...

  • Exhibit Ira BARKOFF

    2014.10.11
     @ Canfin Gallery

    “The beauty of the physical world becomes a metaphor for the capacity of the spirit to reveal itself". Ira Barkoff Evocation of...

  • 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...

  • Flinn Gallery Art Opening

    2014.10.30
     @ Flinn Gallery 2nd floor

    FLINN GALLERY Opening Reception 'IN FOCUS' Thursday October 30, 6 - 8pm Seven artists share their visions - Carolyn Conrad,...

  • IMAGINE CANDY- SWEET TASTINGS!!!

    2014.10.24
     @ Imagine Candy

    Imagine Candy located in Scarsdale Village- Winner of 2014 Best West of Westchester by Westchester Magazine- holds a Belgian Chocolate and Candy...

  • Flower Power

    2014.10.08
     @ SM Home Gallery

    SM Home Gallery show featuring two Greenwich based artists: Margaret Bragg and Penny Putnam. The art show runs thorough November 22nd....

  • Lynne Scalo Design Opening

    2014.11.05

    Please join Lynne Scalo, Greenwich Magazine and athome Magazine to celebrate the Greenwich showroom opening of Lynne Scalo Design Cocktails...

  • Breast Cancer Alliance Benefit Luncheon & Fashion Show

    2014.11.06
     @ Hyatt Regency Greenwich

    Breast Cancer Alliance to Host Branching Out, Coming Together, Aspiring to a Cure 19th Annual Benefit Luncheon & Fashion Show: November 6,...

  • Free Screening of Documentary ' Children of the Inquisition'

    2014.11.06
     @ Bush-Holley House

    Join filmmaker Joseph Lovett as he presents his documentary film and multi-platform project of personal exploration and...

  • P.A.L.S. 2nd Annual Soarin' Soiree~ November 7, 2014

    2014.11.07
     @ Greenwich Country Club

    You are invited to join our State Senator, L. Scott Frantz and our First Selectman, Peter J. Tesei, for an awe-inspiring evening to benefit Patient...

  • John Hardy Event

    2014.11.08
     @ Bloomingdale's

    John Hardy One of a kind. One at a time. Each by hand. Bloomingdale's is inviting YOU to meet the head designer Guy Bedarida as he presents...

  • Olivine Gabbro Opening

    2014.11.08

    Olivine Gabbro invites you to join them for their Opening Party! DJ | Cocktails | H'Orderves | Gift Bags Made to Measure Beautifully...

  • Meet Joshua Safran, Author of "Free Spirit: Growing Up On the Road and Off the Grid"

    2014.11.11
     @ YWCA Greenwich

    Meet the author of this powerful memoir. Joshua Safran is an author, attorney, occasional rabbi, and nationally recognized advocate for...

  • Markham Roberts: Decorating the Way I See It

    2014.11.13
     @ Belle Haven Club

    Join us as Interior Designer Markham Roberts shares coveted design insights, key to creating the perfect home. The program will include...

  • AGAPANTHUS RISING

    2014.11.18
     @ Greenwich Water Club

    Like the Agapanthus flower, which starts as just a seed, we all have something to share with the world.  Sadly, we don't always nurture...

  • The Enchanted Forest

    2014.11.21
     @ Hyatt Regency Greenwich

    Junior League of Greenwich presents 2014 Enchanted Forest! Holiday Boutiques Gingerbeard Workshops Santa's Breakfast...

  • Junior League of Greenwich The Enchanted Forest

    2014.11.21
     @ Junior League of Greenwich

    The Junior League of Greenwich (JLG) will host its annual holiday fundraiser, The Enchanted Forest on Friday, November 21 through Sunday, November...


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