Edit ModuleShow Tags

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.

Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module

 

Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Greenwich Agenda

  • 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

    "IN FOCUS" OPENING RECEPTION -  Thursday October 30, 2014 6-8pm. "IN FOCUS"features seven artists' visions in...

  • Antarctica: Photographs by Diane Tuft

    2014.10.28
     @ Bruce Museum

    October 28, 2014 - February 1, 2015 Selections from Gondwana, Images of an Ancient Land Bruce Museum, 1 Museum Drive, Greenwich, CT...

  • Exhibition: Northern Baroque Splendor

    2014.09.20
     @ Bruce Museum

    Northern Baroque Splendor. The HOHENBUCHAU COLLECTION from: LIECHTENSTEIN. The Princely Collections, Vienna September 20, 2014 - April 12, 2015...

  • Exhibition: Native American Pottery from the Bruce Museum Collection

    2014.11.22
     @ Bruce Museum

      Generously underwritten by Gabelli Funds and The Charles M. and Deborah G. Royce Exhibition Fund Over the years, the Bruce Museum has...

  • The Best of 2014: Cecile Chong, David, Ruth Hiller, David Licata, Loanne Mattera, Jill Parisi, Kristen Thiele

    2014.11.08
     @ Kenise Barnes Fine Art

    GALLERY I Dates: November 8 – December 22, 2014     Opening Reception: November 8, 6:30 – 8:00 PM Public Invited THE BEST OF 2014:  Cecile...

  • 6th Annual Greenwich Reindeer Festival & Santa’s Workshop

    2014.11.28

    Santa and his LIVE reindeer - Dancer, Dasher, Prancer and Blitzen, are coming back to town for the 6th Annual Greenwich Reindeer Festival &...

  • 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...

  • Christmas Tree and Wreath Sale for Charity

    2014.11.29
     @ First Congregational Church of Greenwich

    O, Christmas Tree; O Christmas Tree Buy your tree and help those in need this Christmas! It’s time for the annual Christmas Tree and...

  • "Paper & Stone" an exhibition by Ellen Gordon & Sary Backer at the Loft Artists Gallery

    2014.11.01
     @ Loft Artists Gallery

    Paper and Stone” An exhibition by Sary Backer & Ellen Gordon November 1 - November 30th Artists’ reception: November 8th from 4 – 6 PM...

  • Family Gallery Tours

    2014.10.26
     @ Bruce Museum

    Designed for children ages 6-10 and their families, these tours will provide an interactive, discussion-based tour of the museum’s current...

  • Tuesday Toddler Tours

    2014.11.04
     @ Bruce Museum

    Children ages 3-5 and their adult caregivers are encouraged to come explore the Museum’s collections and exhibitions through picture books...

  • Greenwich Gives

    2014.12.02
     @ Greenwich Avenue

    Looking for a fun way to complete your holiday shopping and give back to your community?    On December 2, 2014, local non-profits...

  • Breast Cancer Alliance Holiday Gift Boutique

    2014.12.02
     @ Greenwich Country Club

    More than 40 skilled artisans, designers, and purveyors of finely crafted goods and provisions will showcase their wares at the Breast Cancer...

  • Holiday WOW At Your Front Door!

    2014.12.02
     @ Garden Education Center of Greenwich

    Beautify your entrance way with luscious holiday evergreens, berries, pinecones and more, sure to last throughout the dreary winter...

  • Exercise as Treatment for Chronic Pain

    2014.12.02
     @ Noble Conference Room Greenwich Hospital

    Presented by Greenwich Hospital and Orthopaedic & Neurosurgery Specialists Exercise as Treatment for Chronic Pain Tuesday, 12/2/14 at...

  • Israeli Film Series | Bethlehem

    2014.12.02
     @ Stamford JCC

    Join us throughout the year for award-winning films direct from Israel that will show you Israel through the lens of a movie camera. Following each...

  • Holiday Della Robbia Wreath

    2014.12.03
     @ Garden Education Center of Greenwich

    Create a lavishly decorated live wreath for your home this holiday season with Maureen FitzPatrick. Using a variety of real...

  • Picture This with Authors Lisa Barr & Gabrielle Selz

    2014.12.03
     @ The Drawing Room

    Authors Lisa Barr & Gabrielle Selz Bring Their Stories of Passion, Chaos & Intrigue from the World of Modern Art to Greenwich...

  • Holiday Tea

    2014.12.04
     @ Garden Education Center of Greenwich

    Back by popular demand!  An elegant multigenerational holiday tea party featuring a delightful afternoon tea, delicacies and a gift...


Show More...
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular Articles

  1. Greenwich Hospital Venezia Gala
    Greenwich Country Club
  2. Watch Your Back, Lulu
    YOGASMOGA’s got a new active wear line that’s coming in hot
  3. BCA Annual Luncheon + Fashion Show
    Hyatt Regency Greenwich
  4. Greenwich Restaurant Week Opening Night Kick-off Party
    Miller Motorcars
  5. AmeriCares Airlift Benefit
    Westchester County Airport