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ARDEN WOOD HISTORY

A Building for Generations

Since its inception in 1930, Arden Wood’s mission has been to provide a haven for spiritual healing. Designed by renowned San Francisco architect Henry Gutterson, the building reflects a timeless sense of strength, beauty, and tranquility. However, its stunning and gracious physical features emanate from a wellspring of love for Christ Jesus and our Leader, Mary Baker Eddy, as well as an unwavering commitment to practice and demonstrate Christian Science.

Today, Arden Wood offers The Residences at Arden Wood, Christian Science Nursing, a Visiting Christian Science Nursing Service, Christian Science Nursing Arts training, Sheltered Care, and Rest and Study services.

footbath

An Idea Begins to Develop

Deeply grateful for their own healings in Christian Science, Marvin and Mary Alice Higgins were inspired to establish a retirement home – a place of refuge – for devoted Christian Science practitioners. They approached the Christian Science Board of Directors for approval, and the idea continued to grow. The Board suggested a Sanatorium, and Mr. and Mrs. Higgins readily agreed to design and construct the Christian Science Benevolent Association on Pacific Coast, known today as Arden Wood. Nestled in a grove of towering eucalyptus trees in the midst of a burgeoning city, this unique Christian Science care facility opened its doors on May 23, 1930 – a haven for spiritual study, healing, and residential life based on the teachings and practice of Christian Science.

AW founders

Founders, circa 1930. Center front: Marvin Higgins, holding hat, front left; Mary Alice Higgins, on his right; Architect Henry Gutterson, leaning against window, back left.

The Idea Takes Shape

Ground was broken on January 8, 1929, and construction proceeded without interruption to the day of completion. The consecrated metaphysical work of the building committee resulted in a complete absence of injuries and accidents during construction. On May 15, 1930, the doors opened to welcome 12,000 visitors eager to tour the new facility.

AW construction

Construction

After a thorough investigation of potential sites, the San Francisco property known as “Arden Wood” is recommended for purchase. A Building Committee is appointed by the Christian Science Board of Directors, and Mr. Higgins is named chairman. Respected architect and fellow Christian Scientist Henry Gutterson is appointed by the Building Committee to design the new facility. Plans and specifications for the sanatorium are approved. The building will be grounded in bedrock and constructed to withstand earthquakes. A construction contract is signed and building begins. In startling contrast to the economic turmoil of the times, donations flow in, and construction continues without interruption. The cost of the project was funded entirely by voluntary contributions from Christian Science churches, societies, and individual supporters all over the world.

AW founders

Designing the Interior

Designer Vernita Seeley (wife of Paul Stark Seeley, CSB) set a high standard of grace and beauty in the selection of fixtures and furniture for the new “BA.” The intent of the interior design was to support healing and reflect light, highlighting the beauty of the natural surroundings and landscaping. She kept a scrapbook as a chronicle of the original furnishings and fabrics.

AW founders

A Healing Ministry

Christian Science nurses have ministered to generations of Christian Scientists at Arden Wood. In an atmosphere of spiritual uplift and faithful service, patients, nurses, and support staff, alike, have experienced wonderful healing, spiritual growth, and satisfying fellowship.

The Mother Church operated the nursing facility, nurses’ training school, and “rest and study” guest accommodations for 45 years. In 1975, a private non-profit organization was formed. Arden Wood’s Board of Trustees owns and operates the facility and property without financial support from The Mother Church. Residential apartments for Christian Scientists were established, and Christian Science nursing services were expanded.

In 1975, the cornerstone is laid and includes a sealed copper receptacle containing the Bible, the writings of Mary Baker Eddy, and current editions of The Christian Science Journal, Sentinel, Herald, and Monitor.

timeline
timeline