History

Founded in Faith, Focused on Community

The Palmer Sanatorium was vacant in 1954, when the longtime pastor of First Presbyterian Church, the Rev. Richard Paul Graebel, initiated a move to buy the facility as the site for a planned Illinois Presbyterian Home. 

As Edyth Anderson recounted in the April 2003 edition of Historico, Graebel announced on a Sunday morning that he had a key to the sanatorium, and anyone interested in seeing it should meet him there after church. 

"Only a Springfield lawyer plus my mother and father and I joined Dr. Graebel to tour the buildings," Anderson said. "The atmosphere was almost ghostly, with dusty stacks of bed linen - even a dental office. However, Dr. Graebel recognized that the property had possibilities for use as a retirement home. He envisioned a home in which he would be pleased to have his mother live." 

Following a fundraising drive, the church bought the old sanatorium complex, which took in 26 acres, for $140,000. The first residents moved in on March 5, 1956. The facility (after extensive changes over the years) is now the Fair Hills Residence of the Illinois Presbyterian Home.* 

For the last 60+ years, our community has stood atop the hill at Lawrence and Chatham Roads, right in the heart of Springfield. The buildings have been updated and grounds carefully maintained to ensure both comfort and pride for those living and working at Illinois Presbyterian Home. 

Some of our first additions and improvements to our main building include: the Southwest Wing built in the year 1962 and the Northwest Wing in 1972. The first four rooms in the Infirmary or Intermediate Care wing were built in 1962 and later four additional rooms, the Parlor, and Dining Room constructed in 1974. 

In the 1980's, Illinois Presbyterian Home was one of the first senior communities to build independent apartments. This included expanding beyond Springfield to Jacksonville, Illinois where we constructed the Elmer John DeCastro apartments. 

Today, we are still growing as we make plans to update our community living spaces and consider the need to grow the number of independent apartments offered. 

In years to follow, we continued to meet the needs of Springfield's seniors with additional senior housing options and constructed two additional wings in 1994 and 2004. These wings featured spacious private suites with walk-in closets, handicap accessible bathrooms and showers, individually controlled thermostats, and big bay windows to enjoy the scenic park-like grounds. 

In a speech to the patients on December 24, 1923, Dr. Palmer said at his facility opening: This new building is not hollow tile and cement, but is built from "Solid Friendship and Service"! Those words ring true today....at Fair Hills, our community is built on "solid friendships" and a dedication of service to seniors. 

Our staff and residents are ready to meet new friends who want to join our community and continue to be part of this rich history of compassionate Christian senior housing options, call today to schedule a tour or email kathleen.cross@fairhillres.com.  

                                                   * Excerpted from SangamonLink.org, the online encyclopedia of the Sangamon County Historical Society.

 

From the Past to the Future