The first location of the RP Home was almost to the top of Lafayette Street. Tales of the early years are full of color and a sense of adventure.
We read that it was hard for the horses to up go up and down the steep hill leading to the RP Home, but the cobblestone paving helped them get a foothold. Residents of the Home thought it was pretty exciting to get into an open carriage and ride down Lafayette Street and Federal Street Extension to the Allegheny Reformed Presbyterian Church. The ride up again was only slightly less exciting.
The RP Home was run like a large household with everyone pitching in as able. Male residents were expected to care for the cow and chickens, while the women had their assignments also. “Miss Harmon: help with the dishes in the morning and noon; Miss Silliman: dry supper dishes and mend socks for the men; Miss Shanks: repair and mend men’s clothing; Mrs. Asten: care of the bird; Miss Dryden: care of the washbowl in first floor bath and foot bath.” The only staff was a matron and cook. Members of the Board purchased equipment and furnishings, cared for the building and grounds, and filled in for the matron when she was on vacation and the cook when she fell ill. Care of the sick was a mutual obligation with residents helping residents as each was able.
Limited funds and doubts about how many people would seek entrance to the RP Home, had narrowed the type of properties considered. Once the RP Home opened, applications came in, and almost immediately a waiting list formed. Now the call for services of the Home was established. A large gift of money came from an unexpected source. John Porterfield, a United Presbyterian, left $16,000 to the RP Home. The RP Home was moved in 1903 to a large house on its present site at the corner of Perrysville Avenue and Burgess Street. A dormitory style building containing 32 rooms was added in 1907. In 1957, another addition further expanded the RP Home’s capacity to approximately 50 beds with additional space for socialization and services. In 1983, a major renovation and expansion took place resulting in the present structure.