Canterbury enjoys rich heritage

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Canterbury Park is revving up for the future by celebrating its past. The Longview, WA-based independent living facility recently unveiled its $9 million renovation — a 40,000-square-foot expansion that displays many modern features as well as some high-profile tributes to the past.

The project took 11 months to complete, with 33 apartments added to the 14-year-old facility, increasing the total to 102 units. The new terraced apartments include dens and open, spacious kitchens. Other contemporary amenities include gardening beds, a craft studio and woodworking shop, as well as Wi-Fi and concierge service.

Canterbury residents now have all the modern comforts of home in the renovated facility. But the  real design showstoppers harken back to the community's post-war glory days with Emmett's Garage and, to the more distant past, with the HMS Victory Bistro.

Emmett's Garage — named after Canterbury CEO Aaron Koelsch's late father, who founded Koelsch Communities in 1958 — is designed to take residents and visitors back to a simpler time when “muscle cars” ruled the road. The senior Koelsch collected antique cars, and his restored red 1955 Ford Thunderbird is parked in the garage under a vintage Texaco sign. Koelsch also is planning to add a 1956 Chevrolet Corvette to the garage once its restoration is complete.

The nautical seafarer-themed bistro and English pub, meanwhile, features a detailed model of the 1765 British battleship HMS Victory in front, and has become “quite a gathering spot for residents,” Koelsch says.

A spacious courtyard dotted with greenery and rocking chairs was added outside the bistro. The bistro itself serves complementary coffee, soup, salad and ice cream daily. Panini sandwiches, drinks and sweets are available for purchase.

The Canterbury facility is one of four Koelsch Communities operated by Koelsch and his three sisters. The Koelsch siblings all are involved in the seniors housing industry, stemming from their parents' passion for the business.

“We started in 1958 in Longview, when my parents bought a vacant nursing home and moved into the basement,” Koelsch says. “This business is truly part of our heritage.”

The family legacy also includes Koelsch's wife, Judy, who handled the interior design at Canterbury. The family's own construction company built the renovated facility.

“That way if I have a problem, I can only blame myself,” Koelsch says.

The interior design “leans toward a traditional feel — a European mix that features antiques and historical items” Judy says. “It is very home-like and reflects the Longview area and its outdoor activities, like boating and hunting.”

A regional census served as the impetus for the renovation, Koelsch says, and that demographic forecast shows a 20% increase in the senior population by 2030.

“We have found just in the last five years the need for independent living,” says Kris Friberg, Canterbury executive director. “There is such a continued growth, and this is the direction Koelsch Communities is moving. The Koelsches spare no expense, so everybody can have what they had at home and feel like they're not really leaving anything.” 

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