The wide, white columns and gray stone facade are magnificent, but it’s the grand staircase with its dark wood banister that catches one’s attention when entering Encore on the Lake.

Encore, a senior living apartment complex by Presbyterian SeniorCare Network, opened its doors along Canonsburg Lake to residents in December 2021, and older adults have already made 15 of the 80 apartments “home.”

Home is one of ten apartment styles, all with two full bathrooms, kitchens equipped with stainless steel appliances and lots of natural light.

“It’s a beautiful location. It’s just peaceful,” Bobbi Jo Haden, vice president, retirement services, said from one of the apartments complex’s full balconies. “Many apartments overlook the lake. Even though this isn’t the lakeside, it’s still a beautiful view. At night, it’s so pretty.”

Dark wooden banisters line wide hallways, which are decorated with a variety of classic and contemporary art pieces. At each elevator landing is a sitting area with small libraries, and the units are modern, open-concept apartments designed with older adults in mind.

Each unit has walk-in showers and closets; big, heat-generating electric fireplaces and SmartHome technology through the tech company K4.

The SmartHome tech allows residents to program room temperature, set their lights to “automatic,” and engage with the Encore community to keep track of their lifestyle and wellness.

“As a network, we have access to great expertise and knowledge,” Haden said, noting Encore’s on-site personal wellness and care coordinator is available to all. “The wellness coordinator can help coordinate care appointments, provide education on prescriptions, help (residents) to navigate a very complex health system.”

The SmartHome technology also ensures resident safety. Should an emergency arise, residents simply press a button and emergency services will arrive on-scene to assist.

“Basically, the way we look at that – you’re part of the Presbyterian SeniorCare Network, said Haden. “Encore, it’s independent living, but if you get to the point – we’re going to help you care manage.”

If a member can no longer live independently, the network pays for 60 days in any PSCN personal care, assisted living or dementia care facility, excepting skilled nursing.

Encore keeps cost-of-living down by offering housekeeping services biweekly and serving breakfast and lunch in the airy Bistro Cafe Monday through Friday, as opposed to serving three meals, seven days a week, like in other communities.

“My job,” said Haden, “is to keep these price points where they are so this community is competitive in that middle market now and well into the future.”

The community is a collaboration between potential residents and the network, which conducted market studies to determine older adults’ wants and needs.

“There is a high concentration of retirement communities in this footprint, not so much in Canonsburg but in the Washington County area,” Haden said. “We wanted it to be unique. One thing we heard through the focus groups that came through loud and clear is they didn’t want to be committed to a meal plan. A lot of our members still cook. They want to be engaged, they want to take advantage of their local restaurants.”

Situated just off Route 19, Encore is a short drive to South Hills Village, Canonsburg or Washington. Each apartment gets one underground parking space, and residents can come and go as they please. When they want to stay in, residents can socialize in Encore’s club room – Haden said the staff plans to host happy hours. Residents can also get crafty in the art room, work up a sweat in the fitness center or admire the view from any common area.

“When you look at retirement living, it’s not just about the real estate,” said Haden who added the real estate is a donation from Ryan Homes. “It’s about the people.”

Which is why “we’re pet friendly,” said Haden, adding there’s a pet spa on the resident parking level.

Guests are welcome to the secure building, too; they buzz in, the resident presses a button on their smartphone and SmartHome technology admits visitors without the resident having to leave his or her apartment.

“It’s spectacular. I’m not just saying that because it’s my responsibility. Presbyterian SeniorCare – we’ve been around for 90-plus years. This is the first independent living community that we’ve done in this style,” said Haden. “It’s unique to this area.”