|City/Town: • Florence|
|Location Class: • Residential|
|Built: • 1970 | Abandoned: • 2009|
|Status: • Abandoned|
|Photojournalist: • Emily Cowan|
Florence Health Care Facility
In 1970 a modern one-story sort of U-shaped building was constructed that would become the Florence Health Care Facility. A nursing home providing care to elders in and around Florence Kansas. While little about the early days of the facility are documented in newspapers, citizens of Florence remember it and the residents well.
“I used to live next to the nursing home, as a child I spent hours there listening to story after story. It was my own “grandparent zone”. There were a lot of farmers there at one time so I told daddy that I wanted to help them farm again. I asked dad to till up part of the yard where the residents could see the garden. So we tilled up a space right in front of the dining area. The older men would come out and give me directions on how to plant the garden and how much to water. The nursing home at one time put yard chairs out there and I would have 5 or 6 farmers waiting for me to come home so we could tend to the garden. When it was time to harvest we took all the veggies to the kitchen and the cooks made everything up. That night the farmers were telling all the residents that the veggies came from their garden. I watched as those men beamed with pride as they went from table to table, they were so proud of themselves. It’s one of my most treasured childhood memories,” reminisced Kim Schaffer-Kellum.
Her brother Thomas also had fond memories of the old nursing home having worked there as a janitor and maintenance man from 1980-1984 through high school and college. “Many of my friends work there as well, making it a fun place to work. The residents there were the biggest stories. One Florence resident, Annie Maupin was allowed to have beer. So back in those days when I drank beer, I would go get a six-pack, tomato juice, bologna and crackers and we would sit and visit for a long time.”
But as with most other small-town nursing facilities is eventually the need for them becomes less and less or they become less affordable and lose residents. Throughout the early 2000s, many of these places closed, some being repurposed others becoming abandoned. The Florence Health Care center had to close down in 2002 leaving it to become abandoned.
Sunshine Residential Center
In 2009 Dr. David Weseloh after spending a few weeks of looking into potential senior centers in Plainville and Woodbine and more with no luck he was traveling through Florence Kansas. Right off the highway, an abandoned motel caught his eye. Pulling over to further inspect and having been disappointed in his other options he figured what could hurt to check it out. Talking to the owners they pointed him to the abandoned and neglected Florence Health Care Facility just in town.
After touring the facility he saw his vision coming to light for a social center for elderly citizens and was adamant about creating a space for them to enjoy. With the help and involvement of Mayor Mary Shipman David became the new owner of the Florence Health Care Facility. He wasted no time putting up a new sign with the name Sunshine Residential Center to give the long-abandoned building a new identity. After some repairs and improvements, the center opened in September of 2009.
Dr. Weseloh had created a place for an inexpensive but convenient way for citizens to live. He didn’t classify the Sunshine Center as a nursing home or even an assisted living facility, just a place for people who no longer wanted to deal with the stress of living in their homes. It also doubled as a sort of apartment building for anyone above the age of 21 who “want their rooms cleaned and fed meals.”
But the philanthropy project was very short-lived only lasting a few months before shutting down. Dr. Weseloh said he had made the decision to close down the new center because he could not find a property manager to keep things in check. He planned to sell it and it seems he did just that since according to property records his name is not listed as the owner anymore. It has continued to sit abandoned for the last thirteen years and been torn to bits by vandals and animals. The walls are covered in explicit graffiti, patient records are scattered on the floor and windows broken. Some residents have been less than happy about the situation.
Gallery Below of Florence Health Care Facility
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