Monday, October 30, 2017

Providence Place breaks ground on assisted living facility at former Collegeville Inn

by Gary Puleo, Times Hearld
The Collegeville Inn’s new lease on life may not be the culinary comeback many folks were anticipating, but as a senior living facility, much of its legendary history will live on.

Providence Place Senior Living at the Collegeville Inn, which underwent a groundbreaking on the 20-acre site recently, even embraces the long gone smorgasbord’s legend in its name — a first for the company, noted Ashley Uhler, vice president of marketing, whose collection of postcards and prints showcase the restaurant’s heyday in the 1950s and ’60s.

“We usually use the name of the town in the name,” Uhler said, referring to a string of Providence Place Senior Living locations throughout the state. “But because the Collegeville Inn was so well known we thought it would be a nice tie-in. Providence Place is proud to be the company that is resurrecting the nostalgic Collegeville Inn.”

Debuting sometime in the post-World War II years, The Collegeville Inn had been shuttered for years when it was purchased in 1994 by Nutrition Services Management Co. of Kimberton. It reopened in 1997 as the Marketplace Restaurant, which closed in the early 2000s, ultimately landing the property under the ownership of M&T Bank.

Although the restored Inn building overlooking Perkiomen Creek will serve as a private dining room for the 113 units’ residents and their guests, the public will be welcome to attend certain functions, said David Leader, president of Providence Place.

“We’ll certainly have occasional public events where we’ll open our doors to the public with hor d’ouevres and things like that,” noted Leader, who said he is pleased to be retaining so much of the building’s character, which is partly attributable to its “Swiss chalet” beginnings decades ago and partly to its 1990s mountain lodge-style makeover as a food court and training center.

“I had heard of the Collegeville Inn but was not familiar with it. As we explored the project we talked to a lot of people and almost everyone in the area had a story about the Collegeville Inn,” he said. “That’s what captivated us to preserve the integrity, the look, the feel and as much of their memories as we could. We’re keeping some of the most memorable aspects … the cathedral ceiling lobby, the pub barroom with the beautiful woodwork. It really has some exquisite wood carvings.”

Providence Place will provide a continuum of care, ranging from minor assistance to significant daily aid, with a separate memory support component.

“Our philosophy is to try and offer seniors options that are a little more affordable than some that are out there today. We’re excited to be coming to the Collegeville area with our unique philosophy of aging in place. The whole building will be licensed by the state of Pennsylvania as assisted living, but some of the people won’t need much assistance besides meals and transportation, while some will need greater amounts of assistance. If you don’t need assistance, great, you pay less. As you need assistance you can take on more. We’ll have people that will stay five or 10 years, and others who come in active and maybe still driving and will stay until the end of their days,” explained Leader. “This will not be a skilled nursing facility but we will have nurses around the clock. Most people now don’t stay in nursing homes very long anymore. They go for a week or two and then they come home. If I were a resident who had an injury I might recuperate for a few weeks in a nursing home and then return here. So that’s how we will function.”

Leader’s father, George Leader, who served as Governor of Pennsylvania from 1955 to 1959, founded the forerunner to Providence Place, Leader Nursing Centers, back in the 1960s, his son allowed.

“Leader Nursing Centers was a public company that was acquired by another company in the 1980s. My family then decided that in the future we would no longer have companies that could be acquired by someone else, so Providence Place is a private company. We have five other Providence Place Senior Living facilities and also run Country Meadows Retirement Communities. Between the two we have properties across the state.”

Leader noted that the relevance of his company’s name to Lower Providence Township was purely coincidental.

“I often joke that who would have guessed we’d be calling ourselves Providence Place in a township where everything is called ‘providence something’?” he said, laughing.

Before Horst Construction begins erecting the building that will house 113 apartments of varying sizes adjacent to the Inn, a wall will be built to address the property’s longstanding flooding issues.

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