The Kahl Home for the Aged in Davenport is one of 13 retirement and nursing care facilities operated by the Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm.
It is the westernmost home, one of 12 in the United States, with the 13th located in Ireland.
The Carmelite organization was founded in 1929 by Mother Mary Angeline Teresa McCrory in New York.
Sister Lois Baniewicz, who is serving her fourth mission at the Kahl Home since 1964, said McCrory was born in Ireland, lived in Scotland as a young girl, trained as a nun in France and came to the United States before the Great Depression. Living in New York City, she saw a growing need to provide care and comfort for seniors, particularly those in the middle class who often fell through the cracks.
The first home for the aged and infirm was opened in a small rectory. It soon moved to a larger building in the Bronx, which served as the first mother house for the order.
"There was no Medicare or Medicaid and no government help then," she said. "The sisters had to go and beg food down at the docks and look for donations in the subway," she said.
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The order ended up in Davenport thanks to Father Urban Ruhl, a Davenport native who met Carmelites in New York while in the service. When the Kahl family left its mansion to the Diocese of Davenport, Ruhl suggested using it as a home for the aged. In 1955, the old mansion was converted into a 25-bed, dormitory-style retirement home.
The larger, attached building that makes up the majority of the Kahl Home residential space today was opened in 1963. Another addition was built in the mid-1980s.