With the founding of the YWCA in 1870, which was only a few years after the end of the Civil War, the first president took into her home one lady and sent two to a boarding house…the three having “sorrowful stories.” Because of the need, a “Home for Friendless Women was started in 1871 with five rented rooms on Locust Street, a matron, one ill lady, and a borrowed $357.75.” This was the beginning of Sunset Retirement Communities.
A parlor and professional entertainment, and ultimately a fancy dress ball at the Wheeler Opera House, provided funding for the Home. The ball became one of the big social events for the next 13 years but finally gave way to an annual fund drive. The Community Chest eventually provided funds until this was no longer necessary.
Two years later, the home was officially incorporated and the Bissell Home on Woodruff Avenue was purchased.