Germantown senior-center incorporates residents’ ideas in $5M makeover

The spirit of the renovations planned for Wesley Enhanced Living at Stapeley on the corner of Greene Street and West Washington Lane was spearheaded by the facility’s own residents.

Beginning in early April, the $5 million renovation project will include upgrades to its rehabilitation center, a new art studio and a remodeled dining room.

It is a place where resident Jeanette Loughlin can surf the Internet in the computer room, where senior Wilma Rowe takes care of the greenhouse and a group of residents rise early to read and discuss the news.

Philadelphia Quaker philanthropist Anna Jeanes originally founded Stapeley in the 19th century. It has always served as a retirement home but became affiliated with Wesley Enhanced Living in 2010.

Tradition remains

The facility’s strong Quaker tradition will be preserved through the renovation process.

Executive Director Paul Zlotolow said more than a dozen practicing Quakers still live in the building.

Many Quaker artworks and artifacts that remain in the building will be displayed more prominently when the renovation is complete.

“We’re going to build them into the design,” said Zlotolow.

Input sought

Stapeley, which houses more than 200 seniors, approached residents early on in the design process to learn their preferences.

“One of the things they talked about was enhancing the dining experience,” said Zlotolow. “They wanted to make it more like a bistro.”

In the future, residents will sit in a waiting lounge by the new fireplace until a hostess seats them. Zlotolow pointed out the irony of the request to transform the dining room into a restaurant when the renovation’s primary goal is to create a home-like environment.

Seniors also expressed interest in the addition of an art studio.

“We’re going to have a lot of help from Allens Lane Art Studio to get that done and do it right, because we’re not in the art business, obviously and they are,” said Zlotolow. “So, with their help, we’re going to be able to put this all together.”

Residents react

Barbara Dietrich has lived in an apartment for the past two years and serves as president of the Stapeley Residents’ Association.

“This is an organization that benefits the residents in ways that administration would not be able to or have the time for,” said Dietrich who is part of several more groups at Stapeley including the Stapeley Singers choir and a group called the Knit Wits which knits blankets for the community.

Dietrich said she is looking forward to new carpeting, paint and lighting in the common spaces at Stapeley.

“I love this building,” said Dietrich, “but obviously things need updating from time to time and it is time for this building to be updated.”

Stapeley officials said it hopes to complete renovations by year’s end.

Haley Kmetz and Taisje Claiborne are students at Temple University. Philadelphia Neighborhoods, a NewsWorks content partner, is an initiative of the Temple Multimedia Urban Reporting Lab.

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