Whether he was portraying Brig. Gen. John Neville or $10-bill guy Alexander Hamilton, Richard Calhoun brought a sense of historical significance to the ceremony marking the completion of Providence Point’s Phase II.
Attired in 18th-century garb, the employee of the Scott Township retirement community announced the start of the Jan. 15 proceedings, which marked the conclusion of an expansion project that brought with it a new chapel, administrative offices and activity and meeting spaces.
But what residents, administrators, staff members and their guests really were celebrating was the opening of Hamilton Tower, a grand addition that brings the community’s number of one- and two-bedroom apartments to 291.
With regard to history, the site of what now is Providence Point has a rich one, starting with its role in one of the crucial events of early American history, the Whiskey Rebellion.
Those who were paying attention in class will recall Hamilton, as President George Washington’s treasury secretary, pushed for an excise tax on the liquor that at the time was a major source of revenue for many Western Pennsylvanians.
As such, they weren’t too crazy about the idea, and in 1794, a group of protesters stormed Neville’s estate, Bower Hill, 32 acres of which now constitutes the Providence Point property.
Fast-forward to the early 21st century, and a group representing 11 associations of Baptist churches in the region incorporated a new entity that is celebrating its 110th anniversary this year.
The Baptist Home Society, based in Mt. Lebanon, began with a mission to serve widows and orphans, and since has transitioned into a continuing-care retirement community dedicated to providing for individuals who have depleted their financial resources or have insufficient funds to cover the full costs of their care.
In 2009, the society opened Providence Point as an upscale senior living community, and its popularity from the start prompted the Phase II project.
Celebrating history always has been a priority, as the other residential towers are named after the second and fourth U.S. presidents, John Adams and James Madison, respectively. Streets include Washington Way, Madison Avenue – hey, who could have resisted? – and honoring the third and fifth presidents, Jefferson and Monroe courts.
Inside the main building are amenities such as the Neville Room and Madison Café, plus the Light Horse Lounge, commemorating the feats of Major-Gen. Henry “Light-Horse Harry” Lee, who commanded the army assembled to put down the Whiskey Rebellion.
Helping add to the post-Revolution vibe of the Phase II ceremony were young Julian Stys, portraying a drummer boy, and a trio of re-enactors who fired off a salute outside.
Speaking at the event were Alvin Allison, Jr., president and chief executive officer of Baptist Senior Services/Baptist Home Society; Erin Stinner, vice chairwoman of the BSS/BHS board of directors; and Bob Kocent, Providence Point executive director. They joined others in cutting the obligatory ribbon for the project.
Kocent also presented an impressive list of acknowledgements to everyone involved in seeing Phase II to fruition, wrapping up with emotion-filled words of gratitude to the community’s residents.
“It’s truly been a wonderful project, and I really want to thank our Hamilton residents, our new residents, who believed in us that we would get this project completed, and also all of our residents who have endured the challenges,” he said, joking: “I know if I write, ‘Thank you for your patience and cooperation’ one more time on a memo, they would probably start throwing them at me or something.”