Folts Homes History
In 1867, John A. and Catherine Folts began construction of the mansion at North Washington and State Streets in Herkimer, New York. Mr. Folts was a carpenter/contractor who also operated a sawmill on another site in partnership with Aaron Snell. In 1871 John Folts died, leaving the property to his wife and their only son, George Philo Folts. After Catherine Folts died in 1880, George P. Folts and his wife, Elizabeth, lived in the house until 1893. Mr. and Mrs. Folts transferred ownership of the property to the Northern New York Conference of the Methodist Church. The property “was to be used for the advancement of Christian education of male and female young people who, through a lack of personal funds, were unable to further their education.” The Folts Mission Institute was incorporated November 17, 1892, presented to the Women’s Foreign Ministry Society September 13, 1893, and dedicated November 21, 1893. The first class was graduated from the Folts Mission Institute in 1895.
In 1911, George P. Folts died at the age of 75. In 1914, the Folts Mission Institute fell under the jurisdiction of the Women’s Missionary Society of the Methodist Church. Due to declining enrollment brought on by competition from other education institutions, the Mission Institute closed in 1927.
From 1927 to 1941, the buildings of the former Folts Mission Institute remained vacant and unused. From 1940 to 1943, Rev. Dr. Albert Judd and his wife, Irene, oversaw the renovations and repair of the Folts Mansion and adjacent Mission Institute Buildings in preparation for the opening of the Folts Methodist Home for the Aged. Dr. Judd described the restoration as “a long and arduous process” because of the disrepair and decay of the buildings. In 1943, Folts Home for the Aged admitted its first guests, and subsequently the name of the original Folts dwelling was changed to “The Judd Building” in honor of the work of Rev. and Mrs. Judd.
Rev. and Mrs. Judd retired in 1956 and the methodist Conference chose Rev. Lester W. Wakeman and his wife Alma to continue the growth of Folts Home. The first step in the rehabilitation of the Home was to upgrade the existing rooms in the Judd and Tucker buildings. The second step was to provide a fire prevention and a fire detection (smoke and heat) system. This included a detection unit and a zone locator which were all connected directly to the fire station at Village Hall just around the corner from the Home.
The crucial third step in this plan was the construction of another building to reduce the retirement home’s waiting list. Started in 1961, the five story, steel framed building accepted its first guest Oct. 16, 1962 which today creates a portion of the present “Folts Health Center”.
The first floor contained a lounge where the residents visited with relatives and friends. The kitchen and dining rooms were in a wing off the lounge. A 25 patient infirmary was located at the north end of the lounge. The second floor included the Sanctuary and mail distribution center. The building accommodated 65 residents in addition to those in the infirmary. Altogether, in all of the buildings, there were 135 residents living together as one large family by the end of 1964.
With the Great Society programs of the mid and late 1960s came a change in emphasis at Folts Home. Over the next decade, skilled nursing residents replaced independent, retired seniors. Folts Home received certification from New York State to operate as a long-term residential health care facility.
Folts Home underwent a number of renovations over the years. Most renovations involved modernizing equipment and facilities. Others, as in 1983, included the addition of 45 nursing home beds to bring the total complement to 124. Folts Home also added an Intergenerational Community Child Day Care Program. In 1986, the program was one of only six pilot projects of its kind in New York state. The day care center served the community and Folts Home employees with children ages 3 to 5.
Organizations that serve the community must count on the philanthropic inclinations of their friends to continue their operations. Folts Home was no different. In 1987, the board of directors incorporated Folts Foundation as the fund raising arm of Folts Home.
Recognizing a need for services has always been a strength of Folts Home. In 1987, the Folts Home board of directors submitted plans to the New York State Departments of Health and Social Services that outlined another round of nursing home expansion. The new services increased the Child Day Care enrollment, added a 40 bed special care unit for persons suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease, added a 30 registrant Adult Day Care Center and expanded the existing second floor skilled nursing unit by 18 beds. Folts Foundation launched a broad based capital campaign to raise funds in support of the $7 million construction/renovation project. Ground breaking for the new addition occurred in Sept. 1992. The Adult Day Care opened in May 1993. The first residents were admitted to the Special Care Unit in Jan. 1994.
The Folts Home board of directors reorganized the corporate structure in 1995 to increase service flexibility. Folts Home and Folts Foundation, as well as two new corporations, Folts Apartments and Folts -Claxton Manor, came under the umbrella of a parent company called Folts, Inc., (Folts Homes). Each corporation has its own board of directors. Preliminary work on the incorporation and construction of Folts-Claxton Manor also began in 1997. Folts-Claxton Manor is an 80-bed adult care facility constructed on the Folts Home campus. Opening occurred in May 1998. Folts Foundation launched its second capital campaign of the 1990s by announcing a goal of $1.2 million in 1996. Funds raised helped offset construction costs of Folts-Claxton Manor.
Folts Homes, United Methodist affiliated since 1943 makes it easy for our residents to receive the medical attention they may need.