Back to Historical Articles

Hearthstone closes after 42 Years


1941 Folk ArtThe “House on the Hill” in Hobart will be entering its third incarnation, but no one yet knows what that will be. Known as The Hearthstone Adult Home, the house was originally built in 1884 as the summer home for William H. and “Lizzie” Sheffield, whose creamery and milk plant were located nearby, and was a major employer for village residents

In 1965 Winfield and Ruth Taylor purchased it and began operating the Hearthstone. In 1971 Richard and Nancy Halterman took it over. After “Rich’s” death in 1984, Nancy continued to run it alone. Now, after 42 years as an adult home, the building closed on March 5, 2007 and is up for sale, its contents sold at auction. The food at the home was donated to Delaware Opportunities, since her residents often attended the Senior Meals site.

It is only one of several homes which closed during 2007. The list also includes the South Kortright Rest Home, closed by the state; “Seventh Heaven” in Stamford, formerly known as Sara’s Senior Care, which has fallen victim to the high price of heating oil; and other similar homes in Walton and Cooperstown. New state regulations and rising costs of heating oil have made continued operation difficult, if not impossible, to carry out the services of adult homes.

Although the economic problems caused by state demands may have been “the final straw” leading to the closing of the home, Nancy explains that when she and her present husband, Ralph Beisler, were married in November of 2001, he asked her what her plans were for the Hearthstone. She had already placed the facility on the market, and told him that if it did not sell in five years, that when she turned 65 she would close it and retire. This “landmark date” occurred in April 2006.

Closing the home was more difficult than might be supposed, but Mrs. Beisler feels the change has gone fairly smoothly.

She first had to obtain approval from the state, since she had received her original operating license from the state. To receive this approval, she needed to submit a closure plan, which would identify 18 separate issues. These included records management, placement of residents and their care during the closing process, helping her staff find other employment, and disposition of the food on the premises, among others.

She was not allowed by the state to discuss the planned closing with anyone until the final approval was received. This came in February of this year, and a meeting of the resident council was promptly called. At the same time that she broke the news to the residents, she also notified their families, advising them they needed to make other arrangements for their loved ones. She also met with staff, a difficult task for all

A month later the last of the 20 residents had been placed either in other facilities or with family members. Six went to Countryside Care Center in Delhi. Others went to Robinson Terrace in Stamford or to Kirkside in Roxbury. One resident was scheduled to go to live with a family member in Ohio, but his relative could not make the trip to Hobart to pick him up until after the scheduled closing date. To help with his transport, Mr. and Mrs. Beisler drove to Ohio with the resident and saw that he was settled in his new home.

Now she looks forward to spending more time with her far-flung family. They include not only her mother, Jeannette Brown, who shares the couple’s new home nearby, and a son, Peter Halterman, who also lives in the village, but a daughter and her family in Mississippi, a sister in Ohio, a brother in Connecticut, and various nieces and nephews who are equally scattered around the nation. A granddaughter was recently married and is living in Florida.

Mrs. Beisler looks back on her 35 years at the Hearthstone with pride, and praises those who have worked with her to make the facility operate smoothly. She notes ironically that her maternal grandmother, Clara Scott, had been a cook for the original owners of the home. With Jeannette in nursing school, she needed to earn money. In a day when married women seldom sought employment outside of the home, she was not trained for other work, and fell back on her excellent cooking skills to seek employment in that line. She not only cooked for the Sheffield family while they lived in Hobart, but also traveled with them to their other homes.