A retirement community in Hesston was the fulfillment of the vision of a number of people. In 1957, members of the board of Schowalter Foundation who were helping administer the late J.A. Schowalter estate, a farmer and business man from Halstead who had expressed a desire to donate funds to provide care for retired church workers. These men promoted the building of a retirement community in Hesston that was later named after Mr. Schowalter. The location selected near Hesston Mennonite Church and Hesston College was a conscious decision to allow residents to enjoy the religious, cultural and entertainment opportunities of the Church and a Christian college.

In September 1961, the first residents moved into six duplex cottages in Arbor Vista and in December of that same year, the main Villa was completed with 12 assisted living rooms and 16 nursing care beds. During the following years, the senior living community near Wichita, Kansas, has expanded their services to approximately 425 persons in 172 independent-living homes, a 50-apartment low-income HUD housing center (Hickory Homes), 40 assisted living units, a 105-bed health care facility which includes 12-rooms in Memory Care.

In 1992, Schowalter Villa’s Lake Vista development began and by December 2008, eighty-four homes were completed. In March of 2000, the Hesston Wellness Center, Water’s Edge Restaurant and twenty-five Independent Living Suites in Lakeside Village were opened.

On January 3, 2005, Hesston Child Care Site II officially ceased to exist when they moved to their permanent home adjoining Schowalter Villa. The Hesston Intergenerational Child Development Center was born from collaboration between Hesston Childcare and Schowalter Villa and encourages continued relationships between our senior community and children from the Hesston area.

Construction on a unique walkway connecting Hesston College to Schowalter Villa, Hesston Wellness Center, Dyck Arboretum and the Plains and beyond began in 2006. The walkway named the “Journey of Life Walkway” connects the elements of a seamless campus where different organization share resources to benefit all.

Schowalter Villa’s future is diversified as well as exhilarating. The development of long-range plans will continue with a focus on partnerships with churches, colleges, area agencies and businesses.