Today, Highland Farms is the result of an ongoing vision that has continued to evolve throughout its 40-year history of community influence and service, since its establishment in 1969.
Over those years Highland Farms has maintained a solid and stable reputation for service and value.
In November 1971, the dreams of local AARP, civic, and church leaders, and retirement community developer, Chet Prentice, became reality when Highland Farms Health Care Center, a 60-bed skilled nursing facility, opened its doors in the Black Mountain/Swannanoa Valley of Western North Carolina. Today, the evolution of this concept is a licensed, locally owned, 50-acre retirement community that provides both independent living accommodations and a continuum of medical services for its nearly 400 residents.
The Bob Leonard family had previously owned the beautiful pastureland, which is now home to the retirement community. Mr. Leonard was renowned for his innovative approaches to raising first, pigs, and then sheep. It was he, who gave the name "Highland Farms" to the property.
Nearing retirement in the late 1960's, Mr. Leonard decided to sell his beautiful property, but it had to be intact. When Chet Prentice described his vision for a retirement community for senior citizens, Mr. Leonard "felt his prayers had been answered". He sold the property to Highland Farms Inc.
As a private, for-profit community, Highland Farms held its first stockholders meeting in 1972. During that first decade, the community grew with the addition of garden apartments and cluster homes for independent residents. Amenities, such as dining and meeting areas, also added to the strong sense of community residents felt at Highland Farms.
During the 1980's, Highland Farms added Prentice Lodge, an independent apartment accommodation, which now provides some additional customized assistance, such as three meals a day. With the construction of Limbert Hall, an assisted living facility, the full continuum of medical services was complete. Independent living options expanded again with the addition of 32 condominiums.
When Chet Prentice announced his impending retirement in 1994, Ed Neves, the executive director, Charles Worley, corporate attorney, and David Worley, CPA for the corporation, formed a partnership and purchased all of the Highland Farms common stock. They assumed ownership on June 1, 1994 and formed an Advisory Board of former stockholders/residents and community leaders.
The decade of the 1990's saw the addition of several medical services: a licensed Home Care Program, an on-site internist/geriatrician, and additional therapies. A very aggressive renovation program resulted in the refurbishing and expansion of a number of garden apartments. Highland Farms also added four freestanding homes on a knoll overlooking the entire community.
In 2004, Highland Farms became fully licensed by the State of North Carolina, as a continuing care retirement community (CCRC).
Our Residents and Staff
Throughout its 40-year history, Highland Farms' evolution into a real community has been a natural one. It is our residents and employees that have given the community its outstanding reputation as a leader among retirement communities. Its economic impact upon the region is also significant.
The nearly 400 residents of Highland Farms make up almost 5% of the population of Black Mountain. Residents are deeply involved in every aspect of the greater Black Mountain Community including churches, civic clubs, the very active arts council, and educational activities. Their voting record is unparalleled, and one resident serves on the local board of aldermen . As a corporate group (Residents Council), they annually contribute to more than 15 philanthropic organizations in Black Mountain and the greater Asheville area.
There are no monetary figures for the thousands of volunteer hours that our residents and the 195 staff members contribute within Highland Farms and in the broader community. Numerous schools, churches, civic and support organizations benefit from their generous donations of time and effort.