The Helen Purcell Home was founded in 1885 after the death of Helen Purcell, when she provided in her will an establishment of a non-denominational retirement home for women who were left alone in the world.
Miss Purcell specified in her will that that her property was “to form a nucleus and serve as a foundation and commencement of a home for the aged, or infirm, indigent widows and unmarried women. Her estate was estimated at $15,000. Many other members of the Zanesville community added to this fund which allowed for the opening of the home twenty years after Helen’s passing. The trustees decided to name it after her calling it the Helen Purcell Home.
Chartered in 1885, the Helen Purcell Home began operation in the former Putnam Female Seminary located on Woodlawn Avenue in Zanesville and its doors were opened for women to live in 1905. At this time admittance required $500 and a black silk dress.
In 1937, the Helen Purcell home moved into its present location on the O. N. Townsend Homestead on Norwood Boulevard. The sale of the home to Helen Purcell came about by the generosity of Mrs. O. N. Townsend whose 5-acre estate, high above the Muskingum River was too large after her husband’s passing. Her husband owned the Townsend Brick Company whose bricks were used to build their estate.
In 1976 the Helen Purcell Home grew again with the addition of more rooms, community spaces and renovations of the Homestead. Each addition to the home follows the original exterior design and elegant interior decor.
Then in 1990 the home started accepting men to live in the home.
In 2021, Helen Purcell embarked on a new endeavor with the renovation of the Straker Wing. Through the generosity of grants awarded from the Straker Fund, this beautiful new space is going to provide additional dining and community areas for its residents.
Today, Helen Purcell is still a nonprofit organization and is operated by a board of trustees and The Helen Purcell Development Council and The Board of Lady Managers.