The History of Rehabilitative Care

Caring for the Community Since 1866

For 150 years we have remained steadfast in our mission to care for the community by providing comprehensive services which nurture mind, body and spirit. From caring for orphaned children to providing wide-ranging services for seniors, our goal has always been to provide innovative programs and superior care, while respecting the individuality of everyone we serve.

We have been fortunate in the men and women who have shared their talents and dedicated their lives to helping those most in need of assistance. These include our founder, Rev. Dr. William Passavant, who was moved by the sight of children orphaned by the Civil War and sought to establish a home for them, and our first benefactor, Peter Moller, who would spend more than $30,000 to build a “living memorial” to his late son, establishing Wartburg on 121 acres of farmland in Mount Vernon, New York.

Since the first orphans arrived on our campus in 1866, we have led by example.  Our first director, Rev. George Holls, began adopting the orphans who came to Wartburg, so they would always be part of a family.  His successor, Rev. Gottlieb Berkemeier and his wife Suzette, made Wartburg feel like home by instituting the “family system” – an approach where children were gathered by age and gender to create a “family.”  Their success was proven by the large number of children who returned year after year to visit their “parents,” “siblings” and “home.”

We responded to a growing concern to provide adequate housing and medical care for seniors by building the Mary Louise Heins Home for the Aged – a state-of-the-art facility when it opened in 1897.  In 1950, two sizeable wings were added to the Home in order to meet the growing demand for rooms.  When this proved insufficient, a new program of comprehensive senior care services was developed.  One by one the buildings that once housed orphans were renovated or razed to serve the needs of the elderly.  By 1969, Wartburg was the first institution in Westchester County providing three levels of care for the aging – independent living, intermediate care and a nursing home.

Wartburg continues to be a leader in providing the most comprehensive services for the oldest members of the community.  We have been recognized by U.S. News and World Report as one of the “Best Nursing Homes” in the greater New York region.  Our work in dementia care and our award-winning arts-based initiative, Creative Aging & Lifelong Learning, have impacted not only the people we serve but their families as well. Whether seniors attend our Adult Day Services or Home Care Program, use the Inpatient/Outpatient Rehabilitation Center, live in one of our independent or assisted living residences, or come for the compassionate care provided in our nursing home, the services they receive are still based on the same principles outlined by the founding generation – to care for the members of our community – body, mind and spirit.