In 1964 Dr. Kenneth Cosgrove, a young Hendersonville physician, was approached by a woman with a dream: the establishment of a retirement community in Western North Carolina. Dr. Cosgrove referred her to the Retired Residents Division of the Hendersonville Chamber of Commerce. That group turned her down, realizing that her plan, based on a design by noted architect Edward Durrell Stone, was too large an undertaking for the town.
Dr. Cosgrove, however, was intrigued by the idea of a retirement community in Hendersonville. In November, 1964, he proposed that the Chamber of Commerce set up a committee to explore that possibility. Dr. Cosgrove pointed out that retirees were moving to Hendersonville in great numbers and would need somewhere to live when they could no longer stay in their own homes. He felt that a retirement community would benefit both the town and its retired residents.
The Chamber of Commerce set up a committee chaired by Larry Butler, a former General Electric executive who had retired to Hendersonville. The committee included Dr. Cosgrove, Bill Howe, Rev. John Hahn, and Jack Freeman. Local banker D.C. Gibson, attorney Kenneth Youngblood, and others were added to the group later.
The committee’s first task was to find a source for the millions of dollars needed to set up a retirement community. In September, 1966, Larry Butler reported that 19 men and women were involved in contacting organizations, both religious and secular, that provided retirement housing. These organizations offered the Hendersonville group encouragement, but none wanted to establish a facility here. The committee considered the possibility of starting a for-profit retirement community with money from local investors, but quickly dropped the idea.
As the search continued into the 1970s, the committee was in communication with an organization called Christian Home Services. Dr. Berg, its founder, had developed the idea of non-profit “entrance endowment” retirement communities, which would be financed by residents’ fees and would provide lifetime care. When Larry Butler spoke with him, Dr. Berg thought Hendersonville was too small to support such a facility. Butler persisted, arguing that retirees were flocking to the town. At that point Dr. Berg suggested that the committee test the idea by advertising a retirement community to be built in Hendersonville and accepting deposits from potential residents.
In spite of the risks involved, the committee decided to take Dr. Berg’s advice. A non-profit corporation was established and a sales office, staffed by volunteers, opened in downtown Hendersonville. The response far outdid the group’s expectations, with 77 units—more than half of the proposed first phase of construction—sold by the end of June, 1972. The corporation borrowed $4,000,000 for land purchase and building construction, part of which was used to buy the original 29 acres of land where Carolina Village is now located. Eleven more acres were added later.
Groundbreaking for the facility took place in December, 1972, and construction proceeded quickly. In the summer of 1974 the first residents began moving in. Demand was so great that the board of directors decided to move immediately to the second phase of construction. The original structures included both apartments and 18 cottage homes (the Woods Cottages).
In the late 1990s, the Garden Cottages, 27 homes with gardening space, were built. In 1999, in keeping with its commitment to quality health care, Carolina Village added a larger skilled-nursing facility with 58 private rooms.
Since then, Carolina Village has grown substantially. The Meadows Cottages, which include 27 homes, were built in 2003. In 2009 a 63-unit apartment wing and 60 private assisted-living suites were added.
Today Carolina Village has 500 residents and 300 employees. It is Henderson County’s only continuing care community specializing in life care services.