The Fitch Home has benefited from earnest, dedicated effort that spans more than 100 years.
One day in October 1916, Mrs. Sarah E. Fitch was discussing her will with a friend, as her husband had recently passed away.
She said, “What would you think of providing a fund to establish a Home for older citizens in Melrose?”
The response was enthusiastically favorable; and as a result her will was made with certain bequests to her relatives and the residue to three trustees: Wallace R. Lovett, Frank M. Hoyt and Edward J. Kitching, with instructions to establish and maintain a Home in Melrose for deserving elderly persons of either gender.
The Trustees visited existing Homes for the Aging and observed methods and conditions for admittance, house rules, and policies to help them to formulate the policies of the new Home.
On November 20, 1918, seven months after the decease of Mrs. Fitch, the Home was opened with five original members. The third floor was altered to conform to building laws, and an outside fire escape was added. From the first, the Trustees determined that this should always be a real Home, not an institution, with a minimum of restrictions, a maximum of comfort and a warm, friendly atmosphere.
The House Rules formulated at that time and requirements for admission are still in effect with very few changes. At first the minimum age was fixed at 60 years, later being advanced to 65. By 1919, it became apparent that it would be of definite advantage to be Incorporated as a Charitable Trust rather than continue to operate as Trustees under the will. By this method, the Home would become entirely free from taxation by City, State, and Federal Government and increase the likelihood of receiving legacies and substantial gifts from benevolent individuals.
On November 20, 1918, seven months after Mrs. Fitch passed away, her Home was opened. From the outset, the Trustees determined that it should always be a real Home, with a minimum of restrictions, and a maximum of comfort and a warm friendly atmosphere. Mrs. Fitch’s original home’s size could not accommodate the growing number on the waiting list so another property was purchased and The Fitch was relocated to the present day address. Over the past century, these basic concepts have remained the same as the Home has grown and become a valuable part of the Melrose community.
In 1920, The Fitch Association was formed to widen the influence in the community and to stimulate public interest. The Association has become a source of earnest, dedicated effort and has provided the Home over the years with many programs, services, furnishings and decorations.