LOWELL, Mich. (WOOD) — A historic home in Lowell will soon be on the market as two nonprofits move to a larger space.
Built in the 1870s, the Hale House was home to several families before it became the site of the senior center in Lowell in 1989. A year later, it was purchased by Schneider Manor Cooperation and was leased to Senior Neighbors. In 2009, Gilda’s Club expanded to Lowell and opened a location in the Hale House, partnering with Senior Neighbors to support the community in the same building.
“We were able to house our program there on Tuesdays and then our outreach program which is in all of the school systems,” Wendy Wigger, president of Gilda’s Club, said. “By bringing the need and desire to have a Gilda’s Club Lowell program together … with an organization like Senior Neighbors that owns the home and had a regular program, it really gave us a natural opportunity to do a makeover for the house, inside and outside.”
After Senior Neighbors bought the home in 2010, it was renovated with support from the Red Arrows/Pink Arrow Pride Foundation and the community.
“It’s a very historical, nice house. It has been well preserved thanks to the Pink Arrow Pride Foundation and it’s been recently painted. I got volunteers to come in and paint and keep it updated,” Nicole Driesenga, centers and volunteer supervisor for Senior Neighbors, said.
Though the beautiful house has become a staple in the community, both organizations have outgrown the space.
“As beautiful as that vintage house was, it really was (limited) in terms of how much our program could grow,” Wigger said.
Both organizations are moving into the First Congregational Church of Lowell, which will ease access for those who may struggle with mobility.
“The church is on one level and the home was on two levels, so that could be challenging to navigate whether you’re a senior or whether you’re somebody dealing with certain types of cancer,” Wigger said.
Both organizations plan on making the space in the church feel like a homey environment that is welcoming to all.
“We’re really coming together in a partnership and they’re allowing us to bring some of those elements into the church to be able to create a similar home like experience in some of the rooms. While it may have its core purpose of serving the community as a church, they’ve been so beautiful in terms of expanding an opening (the church) to being more like this community center,” Wigger explained.
The organizations moved into the new space at the church this week. It was a bittersweet moment.
“Wednesday was our last official day with the seniors (at the Hale House) and they broke out in (Auld Lang Syne) … there were some tears, ” Driesenga said.
“When our Gilda’s Club members and our staff were holding their last meeting on Tuesday evening of this week in the existing home, there was some real grief and some real, ‘Oh, we grew up here.’ For Gilda’s Club Lowell, we grew up in that house and this change is a shift. And with any change like that there’s a sense of loss but there’s also a sense of opportunity,” Wigger said.
Now that the nonprofits have moved, Senior Neighbors will list the home for sale.
“It’ll be interesting to see who buys it and loves on it as much as we loved it,” she said.
The house sits on about 3 acres in a floodplain and has a “great big parking lot” (though it needs to be repaved) and three-stall garage. Even though it was used as the site of two businesses, it still looks like a house, Driesenga said.
“The kitchen still looks like a house kitchen. The dining room where the seniors ate — if those tables weren’t there, it would be just like a dining room. There was, we called it a library, which could be a living room. There was a formal dining room. The front where we had our offices, I believe was an add-on,” Driesenga said.
The only downside about the house is it doesn’t have a shower or a bathtub.
“It has three bathrooms and they’re all (half-baths). They just have a sink and a toilet, all three of them do,” Driesenga said.
The listing for the home had not gone live as of Saturday morning. Driesenga said Senior Neighbors is planning on holding an estate sale prior to the listing and the nonprofit hasn’t decided if it plans to use a realtor.