FiftyForward Martin Center in Brentwood, TN

By Laura Hill on April 29, 2011 at 3:52 am EST
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The handsome timber-and-stone-accented building off Concord Road looks more like an upscale mountain retreat than a senior citizens center – but then‚ Brentwood seniors aren't known for doing the expected.

Members of the popular Brentwood seniors group dreamed big when it came time to build the new Martin Center of Senior Citizens Inc. Thanks to a $1 million donation from Charles and Ellen Martin‚ 5.62 donated acres from the city of Brentwood‚ and generous public and private support‚ they were able to turn that dream into reality.

The 18‚000-square-foot building embodies members’ dream of a lodge – in looks and ambiance. Soaring timbered ceilings and floor-to-ceiling windows bring in light‚ air and the woods outside. An impressive stone fireplace is the centerpiece of a dramatic but cozy common area‚ beautifully furnished in a style that is both traditional and sleek. An outdoor terrace cries out for warm-weather parties‚ while a large multipurpose room offers flexible meeting and social space for up to 350‚ as well as a catering kitchen.

Completing the center are three classrooms‚ a computer room‚ game room‚ billiard room‚ health and conference rooms‚ and a suite of administrative offices. Throughout‚ warm earth tones are accented with wood‚ distressed metal and other natural finishes.

Forget lace doilies and straight-backed armchairs. Think sophisticated – but comfortable. “It’s a warm‚ welcoming place‚ the kind of place where you’d like to sit down and relax,” says Pat Haskins‚ one of a loyal group of volunteers who helped shepherd the center to reality.

And there are plenty of ways to relax: tai chi‚ yoga‚ fiction writing‚ bridge‚ genealogy‚ Scrabble‚ concerts and potluck parties. Then there are lunches at local restaurants‚ art lectures‚ movie matinees and classes in everything from Japanese cinema of the 1950s to the history of diplomacy‚ courtesy of Vanderbilt University. Members also have the option of tutoring local school kids through Friends Learning in Pairs‚ a unique intergenerational reading program.

“This group doesn’t want to do ceramics‚ and they don’t want bingo‚” says Martin Center director Joyce Keistler.

“They want to be challenged‚ to be embracing life – it’s what we all aspire to‚ isn’t it?”

Seniors from around Williamson County are welcome to join the Martin Center‚ and Keistler and her seniors have welcomed everyone in the community to make the center their own.

“It’s an asset for everyone here‚” Keistler says. “And it took a whole community to build it.”

Read more about Senior living in Brentwood, TN.

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