The Evangelical Association determined in 1903 to build a home for aged church members in one of the denomination’s western states. During the next eight years, board members considered and rejected nine sites in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Illinois. Finally, in 1911, an apparent gift from heaven arrived from an Iowa family.
Henry Pfeiffer, Jr., and Annie Merner attended the German Evangelical Church at 9th and Clay Streets in Cedar Falls, and married in 1882. Henry ran a successful downtown drug store with his brother Gus before moving to St. Louis in 1891 and starting Pfeiffer Chemical Company, later to become Warner-Lambert Pharmaceuticals. Henry’s father died in 1903 and his mother in 1908. Three years later, he and Annie offered the family farmstead, at right, and $20,000 to the Evangelical Association for building The Western Old People’s Home.
John G. Ralston of Waterloo designed the building, a near copycat of his earlier design for the Chickasaw County Home in New Hampton. Ralston also served as architect for Kingsley Elementary School in Waterloo; the Cattle Congress Hippodrome (now McElroy Auditorium); and the redesign of The Black Hawk Hotel in Cedar Falls.