THE MENWA APARTMENTS
The idea of providing the city with moderate rental
housing for senior citizens was first presented in 1970
to the Wadsworth Ministerial Association by Mayor Earl
First Mennonite Church served as sponsor to provide
the initial fund of $10,000 to organize the project.
Menwa, Inc. was formed as a committee by action of
the semi-annual meeting of the congregation, May 26,
1970, as a non-profit organization. The name was a
combination of the Mennonite Church and the City of
Wadsworth. In addition to the city representatives,
Mayor Gottwalt and Accountant Robert Schultz, the
church appointed to the Board of Trustees - Myron
Friedt, Paul Klassen, Sanford Rohrer, Eugene Schneider,
Grace Shoup, and Don Steelberg. The pastor served as
committee chairman and negotiating agent.
Land options were secured from Fred Houder for acreage
on High Street. On December 21, the Wadsworth
Planning commission gave approval for the project.
The architect was Kenneth Derr of Derr, Stueber, Corachione and Brown; the attorney, Charles Zumkehr.
Application was filed April 1971, with the Federal
Housing Authority who underwrite senior citizen's housing
developments. There were delays in reviews and
new filing procedures. With the help of Mayor Gottwalt
and Congressman Charles Mosher who made contact with
the Washington D.C. FHA office, the application for
funding finally materialized in September, 1972.
However, since the FHA's figure was $100,000 under
that of the architect's building costs, the FHA advised that the original two-unit approach (low rise
and garden apartments) was not feasible and asked for
another plan. In December of 1972, the FHA approved
a one building, 2-1/2 story structure (as we see it today), and the land purchase was completed.
By the close of 1973 only the heating bid and an
additional sum of $2000 to underwrite the architects'
fees remained as problems. The Wadsworth Planning
Commission approved the new site plans, with modifications,
The D'Alessio Construction firm of Akron began work
in the summer of 1974. The 70 unit apartment complex
would include 68 one bed units to rent for $133 monthly, and 2 two bed units at $158, utilities included, or
one-fourth of a person's income. Housing would be open
to all persons over the age of 62, with no income or
asset restriction, and those unable to pay the required
amount could apply for rental subsidy at the time of
application. When completed, the building would include
a community room, laundry, beauty parlor and activities
Due to increased inflation, additional building costs
required funding and FHA approval in 1974 and 1976.
Original figure in 1974 was $1,331,000; in 1976 the final
building cost was $1,499,000. Adequate loans were se-
cured by the Board to cover requirements with assurance
from the FHA that these funds would be covered with the
closing of the project.
It was a glad day for the planners on August 4, 1975
when Menwa, Inc. announced the Grand Opening of its
senior citizens apartment building at 531 High Street.
Model apartments were open for inspection and appoint-
ments could be made for resident application with the
Arden Follin Realty Co. of Kent, 0H, the agent for
this FHA insured project. Rentals began in August
and the building was filled to 98% of capacity almost
immediately. Esther Brubaker and Margaret Weinsheimer
were our congregation's first residents.
Russell and Dorothy Welday and Elva Baldwin became
residents in 1976 and rentals have continued at 1OO%
of capacity with a waiting list. In November of 1976
the Board made plans for re-organization under permanent by-laws. City planners Earl Gottwalt and Robert
Schultz were replaced on the all-church Board by John
Althaus and Elton Beery.
First Mennonite Church received a Community Service
Award from Medina County at the Ohio State Fair, at
Columbus, August 30, 1977 - for responding to the needs
of older adults. - The success of Menwa underscored
the need for more such dwelling accommodations for senior
citizens in Wadsworth.
Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it
labor in Vain. Psalm 127:1 NRSV