BRATTLEBORO — In 1892, the Vermont Legislature, heeding a call from Dr. Henry Holton and other concerned residents in town, incorporated the pioneering Brattleboro Home for the Aged and Disabled.
“Physical comfort and care are combined with a social freedom and variety that are unusual,” historian Mary Cabot went on to write in Annals of Brattleboro. “The number of elderly people who look forward to the age at which they can be eligible to this Home is a witness to its happy influence.”
Some 130 years later, the Greek Revival stone building now known as Holton Home still stands. But its nonprofit board of trustees is closing the 35-room facility due to cost challenges and staffing shortages.
“Financially, we were able to stay afloat thanks to Covid relief grants,” board President Ted Vogt said in a statement. “However, the losses we were incurring were not sustainable going forward.”
For more than a century, Holton Home has been the most public face of this town's older community, as its stately building is seen by motorists driving from Interstate 91 toward downtown.
Founders purchased the Western Avenue property for $5,000 and spent an additional $18,000 to construct the three-story landmark, according to the Annals of Brattleboro.
In 2015, Holton Home merged with Brattleboro's other such facility, Bradley House - the latter located in the former Harris Avenue mansion, built in 1858, of Richards Bradley, an original incorporator of Holton Home and the great-grandson of one of Vermont's first two U.S. senators.
The newly-created Garden Path Elder Living parent organization has marketed the two buildings as historic yet high-level residential care homes, of which Windham County has six and Vermont has 100. But it has found it difficult to run two separate licensed facilities with a shortage of funds and qualified nursing staff.
Holton Home also reported a Covid-19 outbreak of at least a dozen cases in January 2021.
Garden Path will tap a final Covid relief grant to move the remaining Holton Home residents to Bradley House, which will continue to operate.
“This was an exceedingly difficult decision,” Executive Director Edward Bordas said, “but [it] represents the only viable path forward for our organization.”
In its statement, Garden Path thanked local and state officials as well as its creditors, who “have been helpful and patient.”
“After more than two years of Covid, we were in a desperate financial situation,” Vogt said. “With the efficiencies gained from this consolidation, [we] will come out of this stronger and fiscally solvent. We expect to be providing quality elder care to the community for many years to come.”