As elderly loved ones age, searching for a retirement community is often a daunting task. Look no further than Tower Grove Manor, the best facility in the city.

Formerly the Marmaduke Apartments, built 1928, the building housed women teachers “because back then, you were not allowed to be married and be a teacher,” according to Tower Grove Manor Executive Director Beth Rodowick. In 1964, Tower Grove Manor took over and breathed new life into the once-scholarly building while retaining many of the historic features.

“I just love the look of it, and the historic aspect is very interesting to me,” says Wichita, Kansas, native LeAnn Casey, who moved in about two years ago. “I like it all, but the chandeliers and the library are very pretty. I also wanted to be near my daughter and her family; they live just 5 minutes away. I loved it when I looked online, and thought maybe we should visit before we make a decision, but I was so taken with it.”

The manor’s proximity to Tower Grove Park and myriad shopping and dining options offer a major benefit for city dwellers and their loved ones.

“The view of the park is spectacular; I can see a full panoramic view from my apartment,” Casey says. “A friend recently took me to the Botanical Gardens. It’s a nice walk and so close. It often has free events, so residents will team up and go over.”

If residents don’t feel like leaving the manor, there are plenty of activities to keep busy on site, including game nights, bingo, fitness classes, watercolor painting, cocktail hours, food trucks, mobile library visits, and much more.

“My favorite is visitors from the Zoo; it’s really cool,” Casey says. “[There have been] hedgehogs, hawks, snakes and more, and you can touch the animals. Last time, they brought artwork from critters at the zoo and asked us to guess which animal made the picture, and they actually sell them as artwork. One of the residents bought two. There was a big turnout for that.”

In addition, a Missouri History Museum ACTivist named Barney performs once a month. “He is to die for,” Casey enthuses. “He does re-enactments of different historical people, and he will talk to you like he’s that person. It’s riveting; you really believe he was there and did that.”

Tower Grove Manor also has generous pets policy — no pet deposit or extra charge for pets — and Casey is thrilled her 14-year-old pug Liffey can live with her. Although many residents don’t have pets, there are a few dogs, cats, and even a guinea pig in the building. “Their pets are their loved ones,” Rodowick says.

For those without vehicles, Tower Grove Manor provides ride services. “We have our own bus, so we go out to stores and excursions like the Botanical Gardens two or three times a week,” Rodowick says, adding that the front desk can find a ride for residents’ personal needs.

The manor, which houses about 70 people, is a private-pay community, so residents enjoy more freedom than someone living at a typical assisted living facility. “We’re 55 and above, so a lot of residents still work,” Rodowick says. “We’re not based off income, but we do have a charitable foundation that St. Andrew’s graciously provides that helps residents who may be running low on money.”

Residents may choose from a 421-square-foot efficiency apartment, a 580-square-foot one-bedroom or an 842-square-foot two-bedroom suite.

“I love my apartment on the 10th floor; it’s wonderful,” Casey says. “It has built-in display cases coming out of the kitchen, and I like that because I had a lot of doodads and knickknacks when I moved here, so I can still display them and didn’t have to get rid of them. And there’s plenty of closet space.”

Casey says she didn’t know a soul when she moved in but has been making friends through leisure activities and meals, one of which per day is included with a normal lease. “There’s a variety, so whatever your taste buds desire, you’ll get it at some point during the week,” she says. “People gather to eat, and you get to visit and get to know your neighbors.”

It’s this tight-knit community that makes Tower Grove Manor feel like home.

“Here at Tower Grove, we’re such a family,” Rodowick says. “Yesterday, we had a resident who had to leave because she was sick, and they’ve already got a get-well card going around. There’s not a difference between people who live here and people who work here. We all look out for each other, and we really care.”

To ensure the safety of all residents, each apartment has a phone that rings straight to the front desk. “We don’t have a nurse on staff because we’re independent, but the front desk can call 911 or whatever they need,” Rodowick explains. “Every day, residents have to call us by 9 a.m. for a wellness check. If they don’t call us, we call them. If they don’t pick up, we go check on them.”

Although the manor does not have a nurse on staff 24/7, a St. Andrew’s Senior Solutions nurse can help residents if needed. “They’re able to have home health care if they want it, but it’s their own apartment so they can as much or as little help as they need, unlike assisted living facilities that are more regimented,” Rodowick says.

Offering ample amenities, activities, and a well-placed sense of security, Tower Grove Manor is “a great community,” Casey says. “I think it’s a wonderful place to live and would tell anyone — and do. It feels like home.”

Tower Grove Manor is directly across from Tower Grove Park at 2710 S. Grand Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63118. For more information, call Beth at 314-773-2800 or visit TowerGroveManor.orgM

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