Our Rich History

We are proud to have been a part of the fab­ric of the greater Chica­go area for over 90 years. Our his­to­ry, com­bined with the amaz­ing staff and com­mu­ni­ty sup­port, is what makes Smith Senior Liv­ing retire­ment com­mu­ni­ties such great places to live.

In 1917, Susie Wood­man of the Engle­wood neigh­bor­hood of Chica­go approach­es Dr. William Gregg with the idea to build a home for the elder­ly. They recruit notable Illi­nois res­i­dents like Sen­a­tor Joseph McCormick, Jane Addams, Gov­er­nor Charles Deneen, John G. Shedd and attor­ney Clarence Dar­row to help them obtain a char­ter from the state. After years of rais­ing funds, Oakhaven Old People’s Home opens to res­i­dents in 1924 with the pur­pose of pro­vid­ing a pleas­ant, dig­ni­fied place to live. It is locat­ed at 113th Place and South West­ern Avenue, which is today’s cur­rent loca­tion of Smith Village. 

Washington and Jane Smith

In 1929, Emi­lie Jane Smith leaves her $1.75 mil­lion estate to Oakhaven in the name of her late par­ents, Wash­ing­ton and Jane Smith. In today’s dol­lars, Smith’s trust would be about $20 mil­lion dol­lars. Oakhaven changes its name to hon­or the Smith fam­i­ly and expand the build­ing. The sur­plus dol­lars pro­vide an endow­ment to pro­tect the home’s Res­i­dents which today is known as Emilie’s Fund.

Through the years, major dona­tions allow the com­mu­ni­ty to grow and change. By the late 1990’s, the Smith Board launch­es a plan for unprece­dent­ed growth in the com­mu­ni­ty, pro­vid­ing what is need­ed to serve the needs of the chang­ing senior landscape. 

In 2004, a sec­ond com­mu­ni­ty, Smith Cross­ing, opens on a 32-acre site in Orland Park. The $60 mil­lion retire­ment com­mu­ni­ty is so suc­cess­ful that plans are imme­di­ate­ly made for expansion. 

The fol­low­ing year, the Bev­er­ly cam­pus, includ­ing the orig­i­nal struc­ture built in 1924, under­goes a $68 mil­lion rede­vel­op­ment of the his­toric five-acre site in Chica­go. This loca­tion is renamed Smith Vil­lage and in 2007, Res­i­dents move into Smith Village’s new inde­pen­dent liv­ing apartments. 

Five years lat­er, Smith Cross­ing under­goes a $37 mil­lion expan­sion to increase capac­i­ty by over 60%. Today, Smith Senior Liv­ing is the pre­mier Life Plan Com­mu­ni­ty orga­ni­za­tion, pro­vid­ing robust ser­vices for seniors that include total health and well­ness along with inno­v­a­tive pro­grams and activities.