It all started about January of 1970, at a meeting held in the Fresno Hotel. Eight or nine people representing various religious groups, and others concerned about the lack of adequate, comfortable, and affordable housing for the elderly and mobility impaired, attended.
They were told that through various federal and state programs, notably HUD (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development), they could build a beautiful apartment building financed through 100% government guaranteed loans, all at a very small cost to each sponsor.
There were no building plans to show – only the dreams of a few visionaries, notably Dr. Curtis Nagel and a retired professor from Fresno State named John Masten. Mr. Masten was approaching a very young 90 years of age and was vitally concerned with the plight of the elderly and mobility impaired.
From that first meeting, a group formed consisting of representatives of the original sponsors of what was to become a nonprofit corporation known as Older Americans Housing, Inc. The sponsors were originally the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin, Catholic Charities of the Fresno Diocese, Fresno Commission on Aging (no longer in existence), Fresno United Methodist Parish, Jewish Welfare Federation, Lutheran Social Services and Older Americans Organizations.
This was indeed a beautifully ecumenical group, and that spirit permeated all the activities of the group as it proceeded, prayerfully and haltingly, under the leadership of Dr. Curtis Nagel, to map out its plans to build a highrise apartment project for the elderly and mobility impaired.
The story of the everyday nuts and bolts work of bringing their dreams to reality could fill several volumes, as to what architect to use, which contractor, what design, which colors, and on and on.
Finally, some four years later, in May 1974, under the direction of the Resident Administrator, Walt Wingell, their dream was realized. The doors were opened on a beautifully modern and wonderfully accommodating 11-story apartment building in downtown Fresno. After much searching and deliberation, we decided to call our project Masten Towers, in honor of one of the most enthusiastic members. The good Lord allowed him to not only live to see the opening, but to serve fruitfully on the Board of Directors for several years thereafter.
Older Americans Housing, Inc. had finally gotten its wings. We had our apartment building for the elderly and mobility impaired, and it was filled almost immediately. It was available to all walks of life, including apartments available with rent subsidies for those with lower incomes. An activities center for the elderly and mobility impaired operates daily. Some 200 people a month are the beneficiaries of this activities center. A convenience store and beauty salon are located right on our grounds. Security helps add to the general well being shared by the residents.
In February 1981, Walt Wingell retired and Glenda Prandini took over as Resident Manager/Administrator. After 25 years of dedication, Glenda retired and left Masten Towers to Cindy Wylie in 2006. In April of 1979, a second facility – Glen Agnes – was constructed and in July 1986, Delno Terrace, our third facility, was opened.
Today, with the expansion of the lobby area at Masten Towers, we reaffirm our dedication to our original mission which is to provide housing facilities and services specifically designed to:
- Meet the physical and social needs of residents.
- Promote the health, security and happiness of elderly and mobility impaired persons of low and moderate income.
- Encourage the concept of aging in place.