Titus Manor at Wyman Park
513 N. Worth
Sullivan, IL 61951
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For nearly forty-four years, the 149 year old Titus Mansion, located at the southeast corner of Wyman Park in Sullivan, Illinois, has been a retirement home for women.
The home was built by Joseph B. Titus, a young attorney who came to Sullivan with his family in 1862. The original structure was only four rooms, but was later enlarged to the present size.
The Titus family has always been a source of interest to local historians. Joseph also owned the Jefferson Opera House, which hosted many famous artists of the times. At an early age, his daughter, Winifred, was impressed with the theater and made her debut as Little Eva in “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” in her father’s establishment.
By the age of 21, “Winnie” studied voice, French, German and Italian in Milan, Italy. Later, she studied piano. As an opera singer, she toured with an opera company in Europe and America, finally returning to Sullivan where she taught voice and piano.
Winifred married Judge George Sentel in 1918, when they were both 45 years of age. They occupied the house after their marriage.
The mansion’s lavishly landscaped grounds became the subject of great interest to the horticulturists at the University of Illinois, for at one time there were 105 trees and 118 shrubs within the grounds.
Mrs. Sentel was an energetic entertainer and even in her latter years, when the house was partially closed during the winter months, she religiously reopened her home during the summer.
Then, when the gardens were in full bloom and provided a perfect setting for social functions, she would entertain the many organizations of which she was a member.
It took almost five years and approximately $70,000. To remodel the structure so that it would pass state inspection as a home for elderly women. The work was hampered by many factors, but mostly by very little money. In the beginning, extensive refurbishing was necessary to bring the house up to state standards for shelter care, and when everything was in readiness for occupants, there was no financial backlog to tide the project over during the first months of operating at less than full occupancy.
This not-for-profit business admitted its first resident on February 6, 1967. Mrs. Anita Gritzmacker, at age 59, having lost her husband, suffering the effects of a near fatal bicycle accident, and finally the near destruction of her home by fire, was in dire need of a home. She was welcomed to Titus by Mrs. Erma Ferguson, the home’s first administrator.
At that time, the stately three story brick home was equipped for five residents. All had to be physically able to care for their own needs. The applicants were considered in the order in which requests were received, with no specific religious preference. For a reasonable monthly fee, each resident had a private room and was served three well-balanced meals each day. In addition, there were laundry privileges and some incidentals. It should be noted that while each lady had her own room, these rooms were sufficiently large enough to accommodate two ladies per room, so the maximum capacity was actually 10 residents. Presently there is space available for 14 ladies.