Mr. Arthur B. (Brownie) Hodges bequeathed more than $572,000 in his will in the early 1970s as a challenge gift to the Charleston community for a nursing and convalescent home for the elderly. The challenge required the gift to be matched on a three-to-one basis within a five-year period. The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation received the gift, began a study of the community’s needs and gathered partners to assist in the planning including the Charleston Area Medical Center and West Virginia University School of Medicine. A major fundraising campaign was launched and over $2 million was raised to build the nursing home on Morris Street which opened in 1980.
In the mid-1980s, leaders within the Kanawha Valley began to realize a number of senior citizens within the Kanawha Valley were leaving the area and the state in search of retirement communities to meet their needs. The board of directors of the Arthur B. Hodges Center, along with key churches (including First Presbyterian Church), began studies to determine the need for a retirement community within the Charleston area. The need, being verified, resulted in the formation of Edgewood Summit, Inc. Assisted by L. Newton Thomas, Jr., and a group of key community volunteers, this led to the development of Charleston’s first retirement community.
The Arthur B. Hodges Center contributed $1.5 million in equity to develop Edgewood Summit, Inc., which opened in March 1995. The board of directors of Arthur B. Hodges Center assisted in the planning and development of Edgewood Summit and made other significant loans to ensure its financial health. The loans were all repaid by Edgewood Summit once the community was opened and its financial health secured.
The Arthur B. Hodges Center closed its operation on Morris Street in 2004. The Center donated $4.6 million as its final distribution of assets to Edgewood Summit in 2011 to assist in the development of a memory support, nursing and rehabilitation center on the campus. Edgewood Summit is naming the new health services building the “Arthur B. Hodges Center at Edgewood Summit” in honor of its benefactor. The legacy of Brownie Hodges will continue to thrive in the Charleston community, in large part due to the tireless community leaders who gathered support for new services for senior citizens and continued to see those ideas become reality. The opening of the new Arthur B. Hodges Center at Edgewood Summit is planned for Fall 2013.