The Charless Home, which opened in 1853 as the "Home of the Friendless," will soon be the home of no one.
Bethesda Health Group, which bought the facility in 2006, said Monday it will close the home by June 30. Low occupancy and financial losses are the culprits, said Ken Bass, Bethesda’s senior vice president of senior living.
Bethesda, which bought the home for an undisclosed price, spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to upgrade and subsidize its operation, Bass said.
"Unfortunately, despite all our best efforts, it continues to operate at far less than maximum capacity," he said.
Able to accommodate 116 residents, the home has only 71 residents of independent living, assisted living or skilled nursing spaces, Bass said.
Bethesda officials will work Charless residents’ families to relocate them. Bass said Bethesda, based in Des Peres, will pay moving expenses of residents who relocate to another of its eight facilities in the St. Louis area.
Many of The Charless Home’s 63 employees will be allowed to fill open jobs at Bethesda facilities, Bass said. Others will get a severance package and outplacement service.
The slow housing market factors into the decision to close the home, Bass said. Many seniors who want to move to a care facility are unable or unwilling to sell their existing homes, he said.
"People are used to what the values were four or five years ago," Bass said. "They have difficulty reconciling themselves to what has happened in the economy."
Distinctive for its two-story limestone main building, The Charless Home is on eight tree-shaded acres at 4431 South Broadway.
The home opened to serve poor, single women. Charlotte Charless, the wife of a St. Louis merchant, founded it as a memorial to her housekeeper, Rachel Adams, who died alone and in poverty.
Closure means ownership will revert to the non-profit Charless Foundation, said Bass and Ann McCandless, a member of the foundation’s board. McCandless said the home’s next use had yet to be determined.
"The building is in very good shape," she said.