Sunset Stories

The History of Sunset

Posted by Gayle Young on May 12, 2020 12:58:59 PM

Those of us who work at Sunset Communities love talking about the organization’s lengthy history. Founded by the Women’s Christian Association in the early 1870s, we initially went by the name, Home for Friendless Women. In 1889, we became The Old Ladies Home of Toledo, a name that would serve us for more than five decades.

In the 1940s, some of our residents pointed out that we were an excellent place for people to spend the “Sunset” of their lives. And, from a naming standpoint, the rest was history.

From an accomplishment perspective, we’re proud of what Sunset has achieved. We’ve steadily expanded by adding new properties and increased services for our residents. Along the way, we’ve grown into one of the area’s largest employers. Our history page offers a detailed glimpse into our past.

But Sunset’s backstory is as much about the individual lives of past and current residents as it is about the organization’s impressive growth. And while we enjoy discussing our history, we cherish hearing our residents’ stories.

Collective History

Since our 19th-century beginning, Sunset’s residents have hailed from multiple generations. Collectively, they’ve witnessed a civil war, two world wars, and terrorism in our nation’s cities. As a country, they’ve experienced great depressions and recessions, plagues and pandemics, political assassinations, and unspeakable violence.

On the other hand, our residents have also celebrated moon landings, disease eradication, astonishing innovations, and enduring patriotism. They’ve watched—and often helped champion—progressive changes in America’s societal norms. They drove early automobiles, spoke on the first telephones, saw the birth of television, and ushered in the computer age.

Imagine the countless firsthand accounts of those and other historical moments shared within Sunset’s walls throughout our many years.

Personal Experiences

Of course, residents have talked about personal triumphs and hardships as well. They speak about marriage, educational and professional accomplishments, seeing their children grow up, travel adventures, losing loved ones, and other milestones.

There are some experiences residents eagerly discuss at length—and others for which they cautiously withhold painful details. Whichever the case, we make sure someone is there to listen.

Often, regaling their friends with personal stories leads a resident to reveal a previously undisclosed talent—such as singing, drawing, or writing poetry—and the inevitable sharing of those talents.


Our history at Sunset Communities runs much deeper than the organization’s founding and growth. Indeed, it involves the experiences and memories of residents for whom Sunset has been home during the past century and a half.

We’re proud of our background. But we’re thrilled to be part of our residents’ histories.

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Topics: Senior Housing, Senior Living, Aging, Sunset History