The ALTENHEIM was founded in 1886 (incorporated 1887) by the Westseite Deutscher Frauen Verein (Westside German Ladies Society) for the care of elderly people of German descent in the Cleveland area. The society began in 1876 to sponsor women entering the German Teachers Seminary in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and in 1880 joined with a similar group on the city's east side and opened a needlework school. In 1886 the two groups could not agree on a second joint project, the west side women wishing to establish a home for the aged, the east-siders, a home for children. The west side society pursued their project alone. A building at 7719 Detroit Avenue, opened on September 18, 1892, housed forty elderly people, and remained in use with only minor changes until 1980, when the Altenheim purchased the Stony Hill Health Center at 18627 Shurmer Road in STRONGSVILLE. The move increased capacity to 100 persons.
The Altenheim's services have remained constant, although by 1923 nationality and ancestry restrictions had been removed. A matron managed the home while a visiting physician tended to patients' medical needs. The society set policy at the home through the 1940s and met its financial needs through endowment, membership fees, fundraising benefits, and gifts. The home gradually added more social services, such as counseling and entertainment, and in 1991 expanded the Shurmer Road facilities. In 1995, with a 150-bed capacity, the Altenheim offered skilled and intermediate nursing care, assisted-living, rehabilitation, counseling, pharmaceutical services, and home-based health care. By 2005 services were expanded to include a twenty-nine bed, restraint-free Alzheimer Unit. At that time, the Altenheim's mission was to achieve the optimal level of mental, physical, and spiritual well-being of individuals, families, and their community through the provision of high-quality residential facilities, skilled nursing care, and specialized services offered in a home-like atmosphere.