50 Years. 50 Stories., Community Stories

Story 25: Preserving the Past

July 7, 2018

The Altenheim (translation: German Old People’s home) first opened its doors to 12 residents in 1894. It was founded by San Francisco and Oakland’s most prominent German-American families as an upscale home for older German-Americans to live out their golden years.

Sadly, the building was completely destroyed in a fire in 1908.

Construction began again, just one year later, in 1909. The new Altenheim building incorporated several fire-reduction measures including the creation of two separate wings to reduce the likelihood of fire spreading from one wing to the other.

In 2002, the Altenheim closed due to financial difficulties. Volunteers of the Altenheim Association occupied the grounds to ensure the protection of the facility until the site was acquired by Citizens Housing in 2005. Citizens Housing renovated the existing Altenheim buildings, preserving the wide corridors and refurbishing the common areas.

Eden acquired the property in 2009 and completed a second phase in 2010 including a unique interconnected senior living community with a spacious lobby, a renovated 4,600 square foot multipurpose room, a library/computer room, and multiple points of access to the hillside gardens. Currently there are 174 affordable apartments at the Altenheim, home to 198 seniors.

Eden also owns and manages other historic buildings throughout our portfolio. The Fireside Hotel has stood as a gateway to Mill Valley for 92 years, a symbol of a rough, rollicking era when the Bay Area was awash in rum running.

Eden acquired the Fireside from Citizens Housing in 2009, completing the preservation of the historic Fireside Inn building which now serves as management offices and a community center with a computer lab for resident use. This property is home to families, seniors and special needs residents.

Eden’s Riverhouse Hotel in Martinez, was formerly the Oehm Hotel. Today the Riverhouse is Single Room Occupancy (SRO) affordable housing for 73 seniors and special needs residents.

The Skeels Hotel served local travelers and Swedish royalty alike during visits to Morgan Hill. This image, from 1933, shows the hotel before its façade and the front 17 feet of the building were removed to accommodate the widening of Monterey Road in 1948.

This was the first Single Room Occupancy project in the South Bay and was re-constructed in 1992 and acquired by Eden in 2014. Skeels offers 13 low income homes to residents in Morgan Hill.

Wheeler Manor Apartments, formerly Wheeler Hospital, was built in 1929 and operated through 1989. Fun fact – Each patient room was equipped with a nurse call system – Wheeler Hospital was the first in California to have this technology.

The new senior housing complex, Wheeler Manor, opened in 1993. Important historical components of Wheeler Hospital were retained during the renovation, including the original foundation and walls, tile roof, double hung windows and arched entrance. Wheeler Manor is home to 115 low income seniors.

Eden’s focus on preserving these historic buildings, while continuing the pursuit of providing high quality affordable homes for our residents, is just one key to our success. Stay tuned for more highlights on our historic preservation in the months to come!

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