January 29, 2014
With this recent cold snap we’ve been experiencing I’ve gotten a chance to spend some extra time visiting Mormor at The Danish Home. They are keeping themselves quite busy there with all sorts of activities, including cookie making, movies, Club 21 cards and fitness. Sometimes I think she’s busier than I am!
Mormor is anxiously awaiting the spring thaw (aren’t we all?!) so she can begin her gardening. It is such a special hobby of hers and she describes the Danish Home garden as a place of relaxation and enjoyment for her and the other residents. She is also very excited for the rose garden in the coming months, and the ribbon cutting party this summer in celebration of its arrival! I’m sure there will be much more to come on the Danish Home’s wonderful gardens this spring.
Aside from visiting Mormor, the cold has kept me in and allowed me to delve into the contents of the chest a bit more thoroughly, while curled up with a warm cup of tea. It’s given me a chance to read through Emma’s letters and journals a bit more, and look into important dates in The Danish Home’s history. In my searching I did find a bit more information about an important meeting that took place right around this date back in 1901. Not to mention, The Society’s ties to important Danish-American dignitaries here in Chicago.
As we all know, Emma was one of the original twelve founders of The Danish Old People’s Home (as it was called then) and the first President as well. One of the other eleven founding members was her dear friend Mrs. C. H. Hanson, wife of then Danish Consul General to Chicago. Mrs. Hanson was a loyal supporter of The Home for many years, eventually becoming president after Emma. It was during her tenure on January 25, 1901, when a meeting was held to discuss the affairs of the home. By this time, The Society for The Danish Old People’s Home had been in existence for ten years, and it would be just another year before the first building was purchased and new residents would be calling it home.
By 1901 there were two hundred women members of the society, and it was gaining notoriety and praise within the community. On the night of January 25th it was declared that men would be able to join as well, and sixty joined on the spot! These members included Dr. Max Henius (a Danish-American mentioned in a former post), prominent Danish politician Henry L. Hertz, and Danish-American State Senator Niels Juul.
On the eve of this meeting Emma wrote that she was “simply elated” by all of the new members and looked forward to a prosperous year of fundraising (with the help of her friends and fellow founder Margrethe Olsen, I’m sure) to finally open the home she had dreamed of for so long. She expressed her desire to continue to gain membership and raise funds so that the residents she had waited so many years to help could finally have a home. To this day The Annual Benefit is still such an important part of The Danish Home’s perseverance.
Her dream finally came to fruition in May of 1902 when a building was purchased in Norwood Park, where The Danish Home of Chicago still stands today on Newcastle Avenue. The Women were well on their way, forging a legacy that still lives on to this day at The Danish Home of Chicago.