MACOMB — Macomb's Everly House Retirement Center is celebrating 65 years in the community.
However, the story behind the retirement center begins well over a hundred years ago.
The Everly family of McDonough County had a humble beginning settling on 80 acres in Lee Township in the Spoon River Valley 145 years ago. Jonas Everly was a man who knew the value of a dollar and was very thrifty, and a hard worker. He saved his earnings while working two farms owned by his father and in time Jonas and his wife owned 760 acres.
Looking for more productive farm land, Everly in 1901 purchased 160 acres of fertile New Salem Township land near Adair and moved hisfamily, which included three daughters and a son to McDonough County. He continued to add to his farmland by purchasing 275 acres in Mount Union, Iowa. The Adair farm has always been considered the “home place.” These are the farms that in time would help make up the Everly Trust with 1,800 acres in total today.
It is told the Everly family was “thrifty” and “snug with a dollar.”Every five years the buildings were repaired and repainted a special mix of paint, which became known as Everly Buff – a color that can still be purchased at Sherwin Williams.
One of the buildings on the “home place,” a horse barn, has been placed on the coveted National Register of Historic Places in Washington, D.C.
The hard-working couple lived to a ripe old age. Jonas Everly died in 1923 at the age of 89, one of the richest – if not the richest – landowners in McDonough County. Mrs. Everly died five years later in 1928 at the age of 88, leaving the entire estate in the hands of the children.
Following the death of Jonas Everly, George, who was 47, became the head of the household and added to the family fortune by buying properties in Macomb when they came up for sale because of back taxes. He also played the stock market. He became a surveyor, laying tile on all the farms, had livestock barns and a grainery built on the “home place.” Soon after his father’s death, George bought property at 327 E. Jackson in Macomb where he built a house. Reports from neighbors say it was the best-built house in McDonough County.
Rebecca survived her brother and sisters and as there were no other living relatives she became sole heir to the entire Everly Estate.
Before her death, Rebecca acquired 292 acres in Eldorado Township and two commercial buildings in Macomb that once housed Galloway Bakery and the S and J Café. With much foresight she left a will, which has kept the Everly name known in McDonough County and has benefited many people. Rebecca Ellen Everly died Oct. 27, 1942, at the age of 72. In addition to considerable land, her estate included substantial bonds and securities.
It has been shared by many of Rebecca’s renters that she especially loved picnics, which explains why she left $50,000 in her will to purchase real estate and equipment to beautify and maintain a park for the use of the City of Macomb and McDonough County to be known as “Everly Park.”
Rebecca left some cash to a few people whom she stated in her will “were especially kind to me.”
The newspaper reported that the remainder of her estate was “bequeathed to Elmer T. Walker, Nelle Simpson and Ralph B. Purdum as Trustees and in trust (with no compensation) for the purposes herein-after for the construction and equipment of a proper well-constructed fire-proof home for worthy aged people of McDonough County, the home to be built in or near Macomb, and if practicable, close to the business section and the churches of the City of Macomb, the said property to be known as the “Everly Home for the Aged.”
The will was not processed until 1945 since it was challenged by several distant relatives. At the time of processing, the estate was estimated to be worth over a half million dollars.
The trustees selected and purchased the grounds where the home of Archie Fisher was located.
At that time, the firm of West and Weber, architects and engineers with offices in Chicago and Galesburg, were chosen and began work on plans to construct a home suitable for 40 residents. The site was chosen because of its “beautifully wooded sloping grounds” which architects and engineers declared “admirably suited to the purpose desired.”
However, because of WWII, materials and labor were not available. It was impossible to get contractors to bid on construction until the end of 1948.
Construction was finally started in 1951. According to a 1951 Macomb Journal article, rising land prices had by that time brought the value of the estate to nearly $1 million dollars.
The building was built of brick, stone, concrete and steel and heated with oil. It was a 40 room residence plus baths, closets, service room, kitchen, dining room, lounge room enclosed with glass, service bar, and recreation and craft rooms. The building had two stories at the front and 3 stories at the back since it was built on a hill.
The doors of the Everly House opened March 1 of 1953. It was built at a cost of $500,000 plus furnishings of $50,000. At its opening it had 15 residents and nine employees.
The first board members were Ralph Purdum, secretary of Macomb Building & Loan, Elmer Walker, chairman of Citizens Bank, and Nellie Parsons, of Rost and Parsons – a paint store.
The first director was Alice Crabill who had been the supervisor of Carolyn Grote Hall (a women’s residence hall at WIU) for the preceding 10 years. The assistant director was Mildred Oathout and the first property manager was Attorney E.D. Grigsby.
After two years, the House was not fully occupied so the Trustees were able to accommodate people outside of McDonough County as well.
In 1970 a new wing for couples was completed.  A third floor was added to the Northwest wing, allowing for two, two-room suites with a private bath for married couples. In addition an upgrade of air conditioning throughout and a new conduit phone system to allow for private phones was completed.
Income from the investment of trust funds and operation of farmland has enabled the Everly House to operate without public donations or tax funds.
This year marks the 65th anniversary of the Everly House. The trustees are Tony Ensenberger, Jean Lewis and Ron Runser. The administrator is Nancy K. Jameson.
There have been a total of 711 residents during the 65 years the home has been open. After much renovating within the last 15 years, the home now has 31 apartments as some apartments were increased in size by combining apartments.
Rent was $125 per month when the Everly House opened in 1953. Sixty-five years later rents range from $1,300 to $2,400 depending on size of the room.
The grounds are filled with giant trees shading an oval drive and many of the residents' rooms.
Residents come and go as they please to see their families, attend church or club meetings. Although the house locks its doors at 9:30 p.m. residents are not required to keep hours.
Each floor has a kitchenette with a microwave oven, coffee maker and refrigerator for residents to prepare snacks for themselves or guests. Those who belong to a card group or organization can invite them to meet at Everly House, just as they would in their own home.
Everly House is set in a lovely neighborhood with beautifully manicured grounds with a water fall and koi pond. The Everly House has an outstanding reputation and has truly dedicated itself to creating the perfect place for seniors to enhance their current lifestyle with worry-free living.
Everly House Independent, Secure Senior Living includes:
•Three Home-cooked meals daily
•Daily activities
•Weekly laundry and ironing
•Weekly housekeeping
•Furnished rooms and suites
•Utilities and cable television
•Emergency call system
•24/7 on site staff
•Beauty shop on site
•Vespers are held each Sunday
•Individually controlled heat and a/c.
•Assigned parking spaces
•Van for special trips
•City bus service at the door
•Outdoor patios

According to Administrator Nancy Jameson, there are no contracts to sign – stay short or long term. The Everly House is a Not for Profit Trust.
“The Everly House continues to be a vibrant part of Macomb’s senior lifestyle,” Jameson stated. “Other groups are welcome to use the Everly House common facilities when available and the community, itself, provides a delightful inclusive life style for those who are no longer comfortable with continuing to maintain an individual home of their own. The people of Macomb, McDonough County and the surrounding area continue to reap the benefits from the toils of this industrious farming family and Rebecca’s lasting vision.”
Call Everly House at 309-833-2704 for more information or go online to EverlyHouse.com.

— Submitted by Every House Retirement Center