Trusted Innovation Since 1984

The Willow Valley Communities story began with John and Florence Thomas, who, along with their son, Marlin, created a thriving hospitality business in Lancaster, which drew guests from across the nation. Enjoying the spirit of hospitality and beautiful surroundings, guests began to ask if the Thomas’ would consider building a senior living community. The seeds for Willow Valley Communities were planted, and the rest is history.

Over 35 years later, Marlin Thomas, as Chairman of Willow Valley Living, and Chief Executive Officer, John Swanson, are leading the development and management of the communities with vision and innovation, while honoring the tradition established years before.

Jump To A Decade:

1980s | 1990s | 2000s | 2010s | 2020s


First Residents Move into Willow Valley Manor

Our first Lifecare community opened in the spring of 1984. In that moment, the new Willow Valley Manor became the proving ground for the innovative Willow Valley way of living. Every moment set a new standard for senior living, from the energy and friendliness of the people who live and work here, to the natural beauty of the landscaping and the architectural elegance of the buildings.


Arbor View Opens

Arbor View, located on the Manor Campus, opened to Residents in December 1985. Closing for a short time in 1996 and renovated and reopened in 1998, Arbor View offered long term skilled nursing care and short-term rehabilitation. Arbor View closed in 2019 when its Residents moved to the brand new expansion at The Glen.


Lakes Opens

As Willow Valley Communities matured into its own independent organization, our grand experiment in senior living continued to flourish. In the fall of 1986, the Lakes building was completed. Since its opening, Residents have come from many areas of the country to enjoy the pursuit of a rich, vibrant lifestyle. Word spread, locally and nationwide, of Willow Valley Communities’ excellence in senior living.


Lakeside Opens

The supportive living residence of the Lakes, now called Lakeside at Willow Valley, opened in August 1988. Lakeside continues to provide skilled nursing care to the Residents of the Lakes Campus. The relationships among Residents and Team Members continue to create a sense of family, a legacy of the Thomas’ hospitality.


North Opens

The ’90s were a decade of exciting expansion for our organization. Forty-two acres of land adjacent to the Manor became the North building. The community opened to the first Residents in October 1993. North’s 422 apartments brought new styles and amenities to the community, including the first on campus bank, doctor’s office, and pharmacy.


First Residents Move Into the Glen

The summer of 1995 brought the opening of The Glen, which offered supportive living to the North’s residents. Our devotion to innovation and excellence brought opportunities to grow, learn, and engage, and at the core of it all, continue to offer the exceptional value of Lifecare.


Willow Gables Townhomes

In 1999, Residents began moving into Willow Gables, our award-winning addition to the Lakes Campus. These beautiful spacious two-story townhomes received the Fulton Award, the top award for overall excellence for the 1999 Lancaster Parade of Homes, as well as the National Association of Home Builders’ prestigious Best in American Living Award.


Garden Apartments Open

In late 2000, the Garden apartments opened, adding 50 spacious residences to the Manor Campus. Ushering in the new millennium and bringing the total number of Willow Valley Communities residences to nearly 1,350, these spacious new apartments with underground parking represent Willow Valley’s continued commitment to excellence and quality.


Cultural Center Opens

The opening of The Cultural Center was among the biggest moments in the history of Willow Valley Communities. The ribbon was cut for the new hub of the Willow Valley Communities lifestyle in 2002. Featuring a 500 seat performance theater, art studio, gallery, Vitality Cafe, Day Spa, and Fitness and Aquatics Centers, the Cultural Center is still bustling daily with world-class performances, lifelong learning classes, and endless opportunities for learning, social connection, fitness, pampering, and pursuing your passion. It is the true representation of nurturing mind, body, and spirit.


Spring Run Opens

Spring Run welcomed its first Residents in October 2003, adding 210 more apartments to the Willow Valley Communities. Its distinctive Four Seasons Restaurant draws Residents and their guests for a unique dining experience. Also adding beautiful natural wetlands and miles of walking paths, Spring Run enhanced the landscape of the Lakes campus.


Meadow Ridge Opens

Continuing our commitment toquality care and excellence in our Supportive Living environments, Meadow Ridge opened on the Lakes Campus in 2006. This welcoming location brought a new level of comfort and privacy to personal care on our Lakes Campus.  It continues to offer a beautiful environment, activities, and independence for those needing personal care.


Camp Willow is Introduced

Every grandparent wishes not just for more time, but more quality time with their grandchildren. This desire brought about Camp Willow, which brings children ages 7-12 to the Willow Valley Communities campus for a week filled with fun activities and overnight stays with their grandparents. The kids’ days are filled with fishing, woodworking, photography, crafts, songwriting, swimming, games, and day trips, as well as quality family time.


Mylin House Restoration

In 1787, Martin Mylin III built the existing stone farmhouse on the land he inherited from his father. The house passed through generations until 1998, when Willow Valley acquired the land from Christian S. Herr. Willow Valley Communities has long held a reverence for the historical significance of the stone house and its role in the history of Pennsylvania, indeed the history of the United States. From 2012 to 2013, Willow Valley Communities restored the first floor of the home to its original condition. In preserving the home for future generations, Willow Valley Communities received the Leadership Award from the Historic Preservation Trust of Lancaster County.


“Retirement” is Removed From Name. New Brand Identity and Logo are Unveiled

With “Life Lived Forward” as our central theme, Willow Valley Communities unveiled its new logo, brand identity, and even a new name in the fall of 2013. The new look with its vibrant color palette and the new name more fully celebrate the vitality of our communities and the people who live and work here. Life Lived Forward represents not only the spirit of our community, but also the forward-thinking approach of our organization and reflects our deep interest in creating communities and possibilities.


Residents Move into Villas at Providence Park

In the summer of 2013, the Providence Park Villas welcomed the first Residents.  The 42 one-story villas near the exquisitely landscaped Providence Park Pond are tucked into cozy cul-de-sacs.  In the spirit of Willow Valley Communities’ tradition of friendship and family, the neighborhood quickly became a close-knit community.


The Clubhouse Opens

The Clubhouse opened to great fanfare in July of 2014. As an intergenerational and recreational hub, it offers many moments of fun. Residents and their families enjoy games of tennis, bowling, pinball or Skee-Ball at the vintage arcade, snacks from the Clubhouse Café, or even a dip in the outdoor pool and spa. The indoor sports court offers year round opportunity for pickleball and badminton. Local Table, the full-service restaurant and bar at The Clubhouse, opened up a new world of culinary delights and unique cocktails. The Clubhouse embodies the Life Lived Forward philosophy and reflects Willow Valley Communities’ innovative leadership in senior living.


Providence Park Townhomes

In the fall of 2014, the first Residents of the Townhomes at Providence Park moved into the community, becoming part of the Willow Valley Communities family. These townhomes offer spacious living and stunning views of Providence Park.


The Vistas and the VUE Open

The five-story Vistas apartment community includes 53 residences, with its most striking feature being its prime hilltop location. Upper-floor apartments and common areas boast expansive views of the city of Lancaster and surrounding farmland on one side, and Providence Park on the other. On the rooftop, The VUE is a seasonal terrace that offers all residents of Willow Valley Communities comfortable seating as well scheduled evenings with a fully stocked and staffed bar and gourmet snacks.


Chautauqua Hall Opens

Chautauqua Hall was named for its purpose- bringing people together. Chautauqua is loosely translated from Native American Iroquois, meaning “to bring together” or “to tie together.” The 9,500 square-foot space can seat up to 200 people and is used for a wide variety of events including picnics, special occasions, and meetings, as well as concerts, movie nights, and dances.


The Glen Expansion

In 2019, Willow Valley Communities completed a 5-story addition that doubled the size of The Glen, adding many more private rooms while appointing residences, therapy rooms, and living spaces with state-of-the-art technology. The existing Glen began a full renovation as well.  From elegant common rooms, to engaging programming, to a new grab-and-go cafe, the Glen offers personal care and skilled nursing care in a comfortable, safe, and supportive environment. Its specialized Memory Support wing, Cedar Brook, was also expanded and renovated.


SouthPointe At Lakes

Located at the southern border of our beautiful Lakes campus, SouthPointe at Lakes is Willow Valley Communities’ newest expansion and offers 88  luxury villas (ready for occupancy beginning summer of 2020) and 120 apartment homes (with additional details coming soon). 

For more information about SouthPointe At Lakes, visit our dedicated website.

The Story of Willow Valley continues on.

At Willow Valley Communities, we are committed to creating vibrant, engaging environments and opportunities for our Residents and Team Members. Our goal is to continuously envision and create new possibilities that inspire those who are touched by our communities. That is what we have been about since the beginning. It is what we will always be about.

Marlin Thomas shares the history of Willow Valley’s success.

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