Our History

Embracing Living for More Than a Century: The St. John’s Story

Founded in 1899, St. John’s Home was established by a collection of Rochester German-speaking Lutheran and Congregational churches to help ensure that their aging and vulnerable mothers and fathers would receive good care. Following the example of St. John, they created  “Altenheim of the Johannes-Stift” (“Home for the Elderly of the St. John’s Association” in English). When St. John’s began to outgrow its original Lake Avenue location, horticulturist George Ellwanger donated his mansion near Highland Park in 1900.

Over the years, the mansion was replaced and the name was changed to St. John’s Home for the Aged. 1960 brought the addition of a new wing housing administrative offices, craft rooms, lounges, and an auditorium, as well as 71 resident rooms. In 1962, the name was changed again to St. John’s Home for the Aging and a new 64-unit apartment complex was built.

For an interesting historical connection of St. John’s Home to Mount Hope Cemetery, read A Sacred Place for St. John’s Home.


St. John’s is celebrating its 125th Anniversary in 2024!

Click here to learn more about how you can take part in the celebration all year long.

Building Additional Facilities and Support

In 1972, a complete healthcare center was built, including 230 skilled nursing beds and specialty programs, with an additional 170-bed health-related facility added in 1975. That was also the year that Day Break Adult Day Services opened, the first medical model adult day service in Monroe County.

St. John’s Foundation was created in 1992 to develop financial resources for the family of St. John’s services and programs, and to support other health-related programs for elders in the Rochester area.

A major renovation and expansion of St. John’s Home in 1995 resulted in the creation of the Hastings Building, bringing the total of skilled nursing beds at that time to 475.

Growing and Evolving

In 1998, we celebrated the grand opening of St. John’s Meadows, a beautiful new residential community offering a variety of lifestyle choices for local seniors. The next year, St. John’s Meadows received the Merit Achievement Award from the National Council on Seniors Housing of the National Association of Home Builders.

In 2003, the mission of St. John’s Home was renewed based on the innovative Eden Alternative® Principles of eldercare. This brought a radical new approach to our skilled nursing care, with a philosophy, organizational structure, and architecture that was crafted to remove institutionalization from long-term care—a philosophy that continues to inspire and influence St. John’s to this day.

Construction of Brickstone by St. John’s began in 2011, just west of St. John’s Meadows on Elmwood Avenue. This innovative senior housing community was designed to offer a diverse range of housing options, a community that is walkable, and an identifiable center or focal point of the neighborhood.

From Green House® to Small Homes

Opening in 2012, our Green House® home in Penfield made history with a completely new concept in nursing homes: home-like facilities with skilled nursing care, all integrated into an existing community. This launch also led to St. John’s fully embracing the concept of “small homes” at our main nursing home campus. After extensive renovations and staff retraining, dining and many other daily activities now take place in smaller, home-like settings, enhancing care by facilitating closer relationships between caregivers and residents.

Today, St. John’s continues its journey to lead and inspire a shift in society’s view of elderhood by embracing and celebrating life’s experiences.