Timber Ridge burns its mortgage [Eagle Archive]

On May 16, a radical group of Carroll County community leaders got together to share some memories and celebrate more than 40 years of hard work.

That celebration also included burning a stack of books and legal papers.

The foundation of the board of Westminster Church Homes Foundation, dates back to the 1960s. But no draft cards or articles of clothing were burned during last month's gathering.

Reduced to ash during that ceremony was the mortgage, taken out about 40 years ago, to help bring Timber Ridge, housing for the elderly, to Westminster.

Although housing for the elderly is well-accepted in our society today, in the 1960s, this was a relatively radical, if not controversial, idea.

It all officially began, according to a history of Timber Ridge provided by Sandy Ferguson, the vice president of the board of directors of Westminster Church Homes, in the fall of 1967 when, "Mrs. Betty Speicher, from Ascension Church & Rev. John Buchheister from the Methodist Church recognized a need for housing for the elderly …"

"Bringing together members from thirteen churches, Reverend Buchheister, acting chairman of the group, began corresponding with the Federal Housing Administration.

"The major challenge for the directors was choosing the method of financing for the construction of the housing project," according to the Timber Ridge history account.

"On October 15, 1970: representatives from seven Christian Churches of Westminster, MD met to organize a non-profit corporation for the purpose of supervising the construction of and upon completion, the management of a 100 unit Senior Citizens Retirement Home.

"This board was composed of twenty-one directors, three from each of the seven participating churches. Those churches were and continue to be: Ascension Episcopal Church, Grace Lutheran Church, St. John Catholic Church, St. Paul's United Church of Christ, The First Presbyterian Church, Westminster Church of the Brethren and Westminster United Methodist Church.

"Funding was approved in May of 1972. The property was purchased from the estate of W. Frank Thomas on June 15, 1972. Construction on the project began in the summer of 1972…

When the 100 apartments opened in January 1973, in 18 buildings and a community building, an efficiency unit rented for $109.60 per month. Rent for a one-bedroom unit was $122.94, and a two-bedroom unit rented for $221.94.

When not reading "Fahrenheit 451" by Ray Bradbury while listening to "Fire" by Arthur Brown, Kevin Dayhoff may be reached by smoke signals or kevindayhoff@gmail.com

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