History of the Nursing Home in Kensington Heights – A Brief Look Backwards
Kensington Gardens Nursing Center (its name in 2002) was originally opened as a suburban residence or retreat for Christian Scientists, owned and operated by Mr. and Mrs. George Long Bricker. The quiet, restful, informal atmosphere afforded the opportunity for those residing there to recuperate, study, or just retreat. Nursing care and attention were provided, if desired. Permanent and temporary guests were welcomed.
The original estate, totaling 5 acres and 4 buildings, allowed the Brickers to offer their guests home-grown fruits, vegetables, chickens, turkeys, and of course fresh eggs for breakfast.
Part of the panorama from the front steps included the lily pond, which is now occupied by the “Little Girl With the Umbrella” fountain and the trout, bass, and blue gill pond near the road. The Spring House was secluded around the grove, with its stream that follows down along the grove after it leaves the dam, flowing under the road and into the bass and blue gill pond.
Room rates at that time were “dirt cheap.” Double was $35 per week, single was $25 per week, private room with private bath was $50 per week, and a private room with semi-private bath was also available. Rates included room, meals, tray service if desired, and use of all recreational facilities on the premises.
The original section of the building was easily recognizable before the current refurbishing and redecoration started. I am sure the different colored floor and bathroom tiles in the same room has stimulated the curiosity of all who have gazed upon the quaint patterns. It seems Mr. Bricker was a frugal businessman; he would go to the tile company and buy bits and pieces of leftovers to replace and repair.
The fireplaces located in the first floor lounge dining area and the staff dining area in the basement, now of conversation interest only, were the only source of heat for those areas.
Two additions have been added onto the original stone structure. The first was added in 1977, and the sections beyond the Smoke Doors on the Azalea and Lilac units, formerly known as the “H” wings, were added in 1985. The majority of the additions were done after the Brickers sold the business to a family by the name of Hoffman.
During the Brickers’ time, Kensington Gardens was known as the only “big” nursing home in Maryland. There was one registered nurse on duty for 24 hours, working a 48+ hour week, and one nursing assistant giving medications and doing treatments as necessary.
The Brickers, as well as most of the help, lived on the grounds. The Brickers lived in the stone house located on the hill, and the help lived in what is now called the “cottage” located across from the stone house. Until 1996, the cottage was still used as a dormitory for those who wished to live close to work.
Mrs. Bricker contributed to the operation in many ways, most all of the landscape design and still-life oil paintings that used to hang throughout the building were her handiwork. One day a week was set aside as “shopping day.” She and a staff member would go to Grand Union for all-day shopping trip for foodstuffs and staples.
It is obvious that time does not stand still, but the Brickers supplied the nucleus from which growth and tradition can continue.
Courtesy of Edna Young, Scott Colver, Megan Garnett