Mr. William Gilbert, a Grand Rapids businessman, wished to honor his mother who had been active in the Ypsilanti Home Association.
In his will, he pledged half of his estate to fund and start a home for impoverished men and women unable to maintain themselves. During the 1930’s through the 1950’s the group functioned as a foundation, using proceeds from investing as direct support for local seniors. Initially and according to Mr. Gilbert’s will, the group was called the Gilbert Old Peoples Home of Ypsilanti. The mission was “To found, endow, and maintain a home for the care and support of such aged and impoverished men and women as may be unable to maintain themselves.”
In the mid – 1950’s land was purchased on South Huron Street and Ralph Gerganoff was selected architect. Kurtz & Co. was selected as contractor and in June 1959 the decision was made for the building to be called the Gilbert Residence. The first Residents moved in during the year of 1960. The building initially served as a retirement community and the building had minimal health facilities. JC “Collie” Collins was hired as the first Director and remained so for 12 years, living in the facility for most of that time.