The History of Our Homes: Bower-Haines Apartments

. Posted in Journey to Healthy Aging Blog

A three-story house once stood on the land behind Forrer-Bunker Manor. A residence was on its first floor, the second floor held guest rooms, and a large apartment was on the third floor. The basement was occupied by the Finance Office.

In 1988, this house was demolished, and a three-story apartment building was built in its place. It was called the “A” Building because Postal regulations had already designated Forrer-Bunker Manor as the “B” Building. So it remained until its dedication in 1997. It had experienced almost ten years of busy living without an honorary title.

In the late 1960’s, Edwin Bower, a Ruling Elder in the First Presbyterian Church of Naples, visited Lakeland and talked with Monte Johnson about the hopes and needs of the fast growing Homes. One portion of a generous contribution from the Bower Foundation was designated to establish the Loving Care Fund. The remainder was pledged for a new apartment building in the future. Mr. Bower also made the down payment to Rev. Irwin McArthur for renovations to the house which became the McArthur Center.

When the A Building was completed, Helen Haines moved into Apartment 305 and quietly began to change the atmosphere. She had spent her life as a Christian Educator, retiring from her job at First Presbyterian Church in Winter Haven. She began making small gifts with paper, cloth or ribbon and leaving them secretly on doorknobs.

Messages of love and inspiration appeared in units of her apartment building, in the nursing home, and in the dining room. On her birthday she gave to others – a single rose, a cupcake to each person in the FL Presbyterian Homes: residents, staff, and administration. Her friends responded to her generosity with a petition to honor her by giving the A Building her name. All the residents signed the petition.

And so, in the spring of 1997, the A Building was dedicated in a service naming the almost ten-year old building “The Bower-Haines Apartments” to honor the benevolence of Edwin Bower and the spirit of Helen Haines. To the Post Office it is still “The A Building.”

—AnnaBelle Allyn & Alon Stevens

History Committee

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