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History + Milestones

The Senior Center Story

On a snowy Valentine’s Day in 1960, the University League (now the Junior League of Charlottesville) first opened the Senior Center’s doors in a small, rented space downtown. From 25 members that first year to 2,000 today, the Center has never stopped growing, evolving, and flourishing in myriad ways over the course of our 51 years of service.

There have been many milestones along the way, from becoming an independent nonprofit organization in 1963 to the installation of our beautiful rose garden in 1993; from the opening of our own facility at Pepsi Place in 1991—thanks to the generosity of the Jessup family and Frances Jean Robey—to the addition of evening and Sunday hours in 2005; and from our national accreditation in 2002 and 2007 to winning both the prestigious 2008 Commonwealth Council on Aging Best Practices Award and the 2009 NuStep Pinnacle of Excellence Award, given to the nation’s premier provider of whole-person wellness programs.

A role model for centers nationwide, we have earned recognition for the breadth and quality of our programs in fitness & wellness, recreation, lifelong learning, travel, volunteering, and the arts. The Center has thrived since 1960 with no government funding, relying on the generosity of individuals, businesses, and foundations to help thousands of our friends and neighbors stay involved, enriched, and empowered—all key to successful, independent aging.

Milestones for Senior Center, Inc.

Feb. 14, 1960: The University League opens the Senior Center at 301 East Market Street. The Center quickly outgrows this space and moves to 101 East High Street.

1963: The Senior Center graduates from the University League’s governance and becomes an independent nonprofit organization.

1982: Continued growth leads to a third move, into the newly renovated McIntire Library building on 2nd Street NE.

1990 (Spring): Thanks to the generosity of the Jessup family (owners of Pepsi Cola Bottling Company of Central Virginia) and Frances Jean Robey (who left her entire estate to the Senior Center Building Fund) the success of the campaign for our new home is ensured.

1990 (Fall): Liz Seabrook, Executive Director, helps break ground on the new Senior Center.

Sept. 11, 1991: Senior Center opens the doors to our new home on Pepsi Place.

1993–1995: Senior Center Rose Garden is installed.

Summer 2000: Our very own Second-Wind Band performs on the NBC Today Show

Spring 2001: The De Lawter Room opens, thanks to support from Phil Wendel of ACAC

Nov. 2002: The Senior Center becomes the first nationally accredited senior center in Virginia. Governor Mark Warner gives the keynote address at a celebration in May 2003.

Spring 2005: The Senior Center expands its hours by 40 percent, offering evening and Sunday programs.

2007: Senior Center re-accredited, confirming our status as one of the best in America.

2008: Senior Center wins the prestigious 2008 Commonwealth Council on Aging Best Practices Award

Sept. 2008: Senior Center wins NuStep Pinnacle of Excellence Award, achieving recognition as one of the nation’s premier providers of whole-person wellness programs.