Bethesda 125th LogoBack in 1889, before the discovery of penicillin or the advent of aspirin, Bethesda began serving the St. Louis community by providing care to those unable to care for themselves.

It was then that Mrs. Elizabeth Hayne started Bethesda with her husband, Roger Hayne, and their friend, Dr. Edward Saunders. They began by opening a home, the Bethesda Home for the Aged, to care for abandoned infants, unwed mothers and elderly women suffering from the devastating ailments of the day. The home, located on Russell Avenue near 9th Street, was funded on the $40 the founders pooled together to begin their work, serving 117 people that first year.

According to Elizabeth Hayne, Bethesda was born of prayer and faith, and was created on “an earnest desire to provide a home for aged women who were no longer able to support themselves and for the helpless little ones, rescued from lives of neglect and suffering.”

What a difference 125 years makes!

Although the altruistic mission of helping older adults about whom Mrs. Hayne wrote in her article continues to this day, the Bethesda of 1889 barely resembles the Bethesda of today – one of the leading and most reputable senior living, care and services organizations in the St. Louis area.

In fact, today’s Bethesda is not for profit, non-denominational, and serves the needs of thousands of older adults (men as well as women), their families, and the St. Louis metropolitan area annually through a complete continuum of services and living options.

A number of activities and events are in the works throughout 2014 to celebrate this amazing achievement:

  • Each of our communities will be commemorating the 125th anniversary with “Bethesda Days,” a celebration that will include a tree planting, the raising of a 125th anniversary flag or placement of a 125th anniversary banner, and other activities specific to the desires of the community. And of course, there will be plenty of cake! Dates are still being solidified as to when these “Bethesda Days” celebrations will take place – check back to see when one is being scheduled in your area, and please join us!
  • Bethesda has partnered with the 250th anniversary of St. Louis by sponsoring one of the four-foot fiberglass “cakes” in the stl250 organization’s “Cakeway to the West” promotion. Our “cake” is located at the Kirkwood Train Station, at the intersection of Kirkwood and Argonne roads.
  • On Saturday, June 7 (one day prior to the actual anniversary of Bethesda), make sure you stop by Kirkwood Train Station between 11 a.m.-3 p.m. to celebrate the 125th anniversary! We’ll have music playing and, of course, plenty of cake!
  • On Wednesday, July 2, the general public is invited to join Bethesda staff, volunteers, residents and their families to be part of our unique human “125” aerial photograph! We’re gathering at Bethesda Meadow (322 Old State Road in Ellisville) at 2:30 p.m. to make sure we have plenty of time to get people in their proper places for the photo, which will be taken between 3-3:15 p.m.
  • 125 Years, 125 Stories” – a collection of videos from current and former employees, volunteers, residents, family caregivers and others with an attachment to Bethesda expressing personal stories and what Bethesda has meant to them over the years.

If you are interested in learning more about these activities, or would like to participate in the human “125” aerial photograph, please contact Jeff Waldman at or Pam Dempski at .