The towered Victorian mansion surrounded by five acres of stately trees and carefully tended grounds might be mistaken for a museum.

Step inside the west Davenport landmark, though, and the surprises begin.

A lively discussion about current events might be taking place in the newly refurbished parlor. Crafts may be taking shape under the tutelage of a newly hired activities director. Planning for another in a series of lunch outings to small-town cafés could be under way.

Welcome to the Clarissa C. Cook Home, a retirement home at 100 S. Pine St., Davenport. Established in 1882, it functions as a residence for people who can live independently. It is not to be confused with the Clarissa C. Cook Hospice House in Bettendorf, which opened last month as a residential hospice for the care of terminally ill patients.

The retirement home has taken on new life in recent months with the hiring of a new executive director, the refurbishing of common areas, a soon-to-be launched marketing campaign and other changes intended to make it a great place for active seniors such as 13-year resident Marie Bugni, 94.

“I love it here,” she said recently while relaxing in her sunny apartment overlooking the grape arbor. “I have the freedom to come and go as I please.”

Helen Bovenmyer, a member of the home’s board of directors and its immediate past president, said the board is taking steps to revitalize the facility.

“There is renewed spirit taking place here,” she said.

Evidence of the home’s renewed vigor is an increase in the number of residents. Of the home’s 19 rooms, 13 are occupied, said executive director Sue Berrie, a registered nurse with an extensive background in managing senior living communities.

Marketing plans include the use of a new name, Clarissa C. Cook Retirement Living, to emphasize its purpose, Berrie said. “We are an independent living center for seniors, not a nursing home,” she added.

Residents enjoy tiled fireplaces, oak woodwork and a stained-glass window illuminating the staircase, all of which were in place when the home opened in August 1882 as a result of the benevolence of Davenport pioneers Clarissa C. Cook and her husband, Ebenezer Cook — a lawyer, financier and civic leader.

Civic projects benefiting from their philanthropy include the city’s first public library as well as the Clarissa C. Cook Home for the Friendless, a home “for destitute and indigent females.” Over the years, the home changed its focus to become the retirement home that it is today. There are no income restrictions for residents.

Thanks to wise investments, the home’s board of directors found themselves with plenty of money to help Genesis Health System finance the residential hospice house that was announced in May 2005. The board amended Clarissa C. Cook’s will so it could donate half of the construction cost up to total of $3 million. The gift gave the board naming rights to the hospice house, which is operated by the Genesis Visiting Nurse Association and Hospice.

Bovenmyer, who was president of the board at the time, said the gift is in keeping with the generous spirit of Clarissa C. Cook. Naming the hospice house in her memory was another opportunity to keep her name before the public, she said, and board has no plans to close its retirement home.

John Willard can be contacted at (563) 383-2314 or