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.
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.