Goodbye, Old Friend

Published: Tuesday, November 11, 2014

As Passavant Community residents begin making new memories in the Abundant Life Center, some took the time at a ceremony last month to reflect on good times spent in Olde Main. Olde Main, the building that has stood at the heart of Passavant’s campus for more than 100 years, is scheduled to be torn down in the coming months.

“Olde Main is kind of like our favorite sweater – it wraps around us and gives us comfort,” said Laura Roy, executive director of Passavant Community. “It has seen a lot of stories and a lot of life has happened here. But three years ago, we embarked on a journey to create a new home, and today we bid Olde Main farewell.”

Those attending the ceremony were invited to share their favorite memories of Olde Main. Some recalled coming to Olde Main as children themselves to visit loved ones, or with church or youth groups for intergenerational gatherings. Others shared more recent memories of the comfort they get from hearing the bell toll from atop the building.

“Olde Main is special because of the staff and the people who live here and contribute their love to this community,” said resident Bob Scheidemantle.

Guests at the ceremony were also asked to write their favorite memory of Olde Main on a fabric leaf. The leaves will be arranged into an art piece that will be displayed in the Abundant Life Center. They were given a plaque made of wood from trees that were cut down to make room for the new building. The plaques depict the Luther Rose like the one made of stained glass in the Abundant Life Center.

Passavant Community was originally established in the 1890s as The Old People’s Home for the Aged and Infirmed. Later, in 1904, Mrs. Jane Passavant donated 10 acres of wooded land and an additional 8.5 acres were purchased in Zelienople. The following year, a group of men formed a corporation known as “The Old People’s Home of the Pittsburgh Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Its stated purpose was to “provide a peaceful home for the aged and infirmed persons in the spirit of true Christian charity.” The community grew incrementally over the years, but the commitment to provide an Abundant Life® for its residents has remained.

Pr. Wilfred Goetze, director of chaplaincy services at Passavant Community, reminded residents and staff of the decades of love, culture and education that has taken place in Olde Main. But, he said, its closing should not be a sad occasion. “It is not about the space. It’s about the people who live in it, work in it and volunteer in it. The building dies, but not the people or the memories. We are just relocating where we are doing God’s work.”

Parts of Olde Main have stood at the heart of the Passavant Community campus for more than 100 years.

Memories of Olde Main written on fabric leaves will become part of a piece of art to be displayed in the Abundant Life Center.

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