Many people were surprised when the Merry-Go-Round Thrift Shop near The Mews closed in 2010. It was located in a red house, just down the street from The Mews. The Board closed it because of space constraints, and it's now used for other functions. They used a carousel horse as their logo. Sale proceeds were used to support The Mews. In order to get a better picture of the relationship between The Merry-Go-Round and The Mews, it's necessary to review some Greenwich history.
In 1949, Nan Rockefeller, the wife of Stillman Rockefeller, decided to start a recreation center for seniors. She called it The Merry-Go-Round. It was an adult day care operation - a safe place where seniors could go instead of staying at home all day. Programs were provided for the seniors, and it afforded them an opportunity for social interaction. Volunteers served meals to seniors and helped with programs, but the budget was very lean.
Taking the idea further, in the 1960s she came up with a plan to build an affordable apartment house for seniors that was modestly priced and offered assisted living. This would allow people to maintain their independence, while having access to medical and housekeeping services. Ms. Rockefeller got the idea from a story she heard about an elderly woman who severely burned herself when she was trying to cook herself a meal. Ms. Rockefeller was able to purchase and demolish a boarding house next to the Merry-Go-Round. Then she went to the FHA (Federal Housing Authority) to get a loan to build a newer, more modern residential "hotel". At first, Ms. Rockefeller was turned down. Undaunted, she took new members of the Board back to the FHA, and was again denied. She became very emotional, and started to cry! The FHA officials were so moved by her show of emotion, that they granted her a loan. She used it to build one of the first senior housing complexes of its kind in the country.
Today, you can see the results of her efforts at 1/2 Bolling Place, just off Arch Street on the lower end of Greenwich Avenue. The red brick, 4-story building serves as a residence for seniors. It opened in 1970. Today, there are 65 bedroom apartments and 21 two-room suites with kitchenettes. There's a hair salon and a barbershop onsite. Activities include exercise classes, education programs, lectures, and discussions. Residents can play bridge and bingo, and view movies. Seniors have their own front door keys, and can walk to Greenwich Avenue for shopping, dining or viewing movies. There are nurses onsite. The Greenwich Library Bookmobile provides a variety of materials (books, DVDs, CDs, Books-on-CD) on a regular basis. Residents can get wholesome meals in the dining room. And there also are a number of interesting social events as well.
The Merry-Go-Round Thrift Shop was established in 1978 at 38 Arch Street. (Although a Sanborn Fire Insurance Map revised in 1939 indicates there was a daycare operation at this address, I'm not sure if this was the same location as the adult daycare operation.) There were approximately 4 employees. It was opened to the public as well as residents of The Mews. The items for sale included clothing, shoes, jewelry, furniture, art work, linens, household items and greeting cards. According to the Greenwich Time, The Merry-Go-Round Thrift Shop closed in the fall of 2010. It's being used as an office for The Mews.
The Mews operates without town, state or federal aid. Although some residents can't afford to pay the rent, they are never turned away. Annual fund raisers are used to provide funding.
Ms. Nan Rockefeller died in 1994; but the energetic, determined crusader for senior services will forever be remembered as a compassionate individual who cared greatly for her fellow man.