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Our History

Our History

When Reverend Thomas Arnold founded the original Woodstock Children's Home in 1886, could he have imagined that more than 125 years later his organization would have expanded to what it is today?

These humble beginnings are now known as Hearthstone Communities, a not-for-profit, faith-based charitable organization devoted to serving children and seniors. Hearthstone Communities are located on a beautiful 14-acre campus in Woodstock, Illinois.
 Hearthstone Communities is one of Woodstock's oldest organizations. In 1886, the Rev. Thomas Arnold was moved by the plight of orphaned children whom he observed on the streets of Chicago. Out of his compassion, he began caring for children in his own home and incorporated in 1888 as the Chicago Industrial Home for Children. In 1891, Rev. Arnold moved his "family" of children to Woodstock, Illinois, and the organization became known as the Woodstock Children's Home.

This move to Woodstock was made possible by the gift of a farm from Mrs. Roxey Stevens who had become interested in the work of Rev. Arnold. Until the 1920s, the home cared primarily for orphaned children and served as an adoptive agency. Gradually, in the early 1920s, there was a shift in the emphasis, and by 1927 many of the children were court commitments as a result of broken homes. By the 1970s, the State of Illinois began utilizing foster homes to care for its children and the Children’s Home became a day care center.

The first Superintendent of the Chicago Industrial Home for children, the Rev. J. D. Kelsey, was concerned about the related problems of caring for the elderly and in 1903 founded the Old People’s Rest Home on property adjacent to the Children’s Home. The Kelsey Building was the original structure. The Maxwell Building was added in the 1950s. Further additions in 1971 and 1975 increased capacity to 138 residents at which time the Kelsey Building was demolished. The atrium on the South side was built in 1985 through private donations. Meanwhile, the board of directors saw a need for a retirement home for active seniors and approved construction of Carefree Village in 1983.

The campus now provides a complete continuum of care. Independent seniors can live in duplex homes, rent cottages or enjoy independent apartment living. As those residents’ needs change, they can continue living in their apartment via assisted living or receive rehabilitation, short- and long-term skilled nursing care, sheltered care or memory care all on the same campus.

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