A Remarkable History

Painting of Ms Franke Tobey Jones

Ms. Franke Tobey Jones: Visionary, Philanthropist, Humanitarian.

From her beginnings in Jay, New York through recession, war and prosperity, the story of Ms. Franke Tobey Jones is a remarkable one. She had a heart for giving, and cared deeply for people. She had a strong passion for the elderly, and because of her prosperity, she wanted to share her wealth for the betterment of seniors. Ms. Franke Tobey Jones’ legacy lives on at Franke Tobey Jones senior living community, as we continue to embrace her philosophy of giving back to seniors and our greater community through our mission: To enrich and extend the quality of life for seniors in our community. As a not-for-profit organization, we provide senior residential services, a supportive continuum of care and innovative community outreach.

Who Are Franke Tobey and Charles Hebard Jones?

Franke Tobey was born in Jay, New York, on May 22, 1845. On June 25, 1872 she married Charles Hebard Jones and they settled in Menominee, Michigan. Charles was the young, successful owner of a small sawmill in Menominee. When the economic panic of 1873 destroyed Charles’ business, the Joneses lost everything, including their home. In 1888 Franke and Charles moved west and settled in Tacoma. Franke demonstrated strength, courage and determination during this time of colossal change—characteristics that contributed to her legacy.

Charles Jones and Henry Hewitt joined forces with two other lumbermen to establish the St. Paul & Tacoma Lumber Company. Jones pioneered the use of the band saw in place of the more commonly used circular saw. Soon a second St. Paul & Tacoma Mill was commissioned which became the world’s biggest lumber producer. Throughout the development stage of the mill, Mr. Jones tried to shield his wife from worry over the contentious choices he was making. Franke would have none of his protection and took an active interest in every stage of the planning and construction, even showing up on the mill floor to cheer the first testing of the much-maligned band saw. It appeared as though the Joneses could relax and enjoy the fruits of their achievements. Tacoma, “The City of Destiny,” was bustling.

Recession, Gold, War, Prosperity

A sharp recession swept the United States in 1893. By virtue of its size and judicious management, the St. Paul & Tacoma Lumber Company survived. When the discovery of gold put an end to the recession, the St. Paul & Tacoma Lumber Company was ready and able to take advantage of the renewed boom. In 1908, Charles purchased the NW Lumber Co. Mill in Hoquiam, Washington. When the United States joined the war in 1917, St. Paul & Tacoma Lumber found itself in the shipbuilding business as well as a major supplier of railway ties and materials for box cars. Charles Jones died on November 28, 1922. Franke kept her quarter share in the St. Paul & Tacoma Lumber Company and maintained full ownership and management of the mill in Hoquiam.

Benevolence, Tacoma Women, A Beginning

The Joneses had been contributors to various charitable institutions in the city for many years. Prior to Charles’ death, he pledged $25,000 to the building of a new Puget Sound College campus (now the University of Puget Sound). On the morning of the groundbreaking ceremony, upon hearing of her husband’s pledge, Franke promptly offered an additional $175,000. Today, Charles Jones Hall stands in the heart of the campus.

Prior to the college donation, Franke had turned her attention to the needs of Tacoma’s elderly. It was a time when senility could mean incarceration. The old who lacked families with the will or the means to care for them could live in neglect and die alone. She was aware of how lucky she was to have security for her own old age and wanted to share her good fortune with others. She was determined to establish a home in which the elderly could live in comfort and dignity, whatever their means.

Franke discovered in Chapter C of the P.E.O. (Philanthropic Educational Organization), a group of like-minded Tacoma women. In 1922, fifteen P.E.O. women had incorporated a company and named it “The Old People’s Home of Tacoma.” They rented the old Danaher Home at 424 N. D Street and set about establishing “Restholme,” a nursing Home for 14 elderly people. P.E.O. chapters all over Tacoma joined in the effort to raise funds to furnish the home.

The first person to be admitted to the new Home was a retired school teacher with her cat and a cage full of canaries. “Restholme” was welcomed and supported by the community. It was immediately successful, but soon it became clear that the facility wasn’t large enough. In July 1923, Franke Tobey Jones appeared like a fairy godmother at a P.E.O. business meeting and announced she wanted to donate a building site near Point Defiance Park, in addition to $150,000 for the development of a permanent home for the elderly.

On July 16, 1924 the Franke Tobey Jones Home cornerstone was laid on a spectacular five-acre site with views of Commencement Bay and Mount Rainier. With a wheelbarrow and spade, Franke, at the age of 80, presided over the ceremony. On March 24, 1925 the Home opened, a beautiful Tudor-style building with private accommodations for up to 65 residents. In addition to a gracious living room and dining room, it had a stage for entertainment, a library and at the heart of the communal living area, a picturesque solarium. The building was designed with no stairs; gentle ramps went from one level to the next. It was soon recognized as one of the most outstanding facilities in the nation. Franke Tobey Jones Home was originally set up to run as a trust, and Franke generously donated to the endowment fund. A Board of Trustees was established, with Virginia Mason as president.

In 1930, Franke was recognized by the Tacoma Chamber of Commerce as “having rendered distinguished service in the community and set an example of citizenship which, if followed by others, would make Tacoma a better city.” It wasn’t recognition, though, that Franke sought. Franke Tobey Jones was described by a friend as, “The biggest heart ever found in such a small body.” Franke died in her own home on April 25, 1931 and rests next to her husband within Tacoma Mausoleum in South Tacoma.

Popularity of The Franke Tobey Jones Home

By 1948, World War II was ending and the popularity of the home was so great that there was a waiting list of six years. Since 1937, Mrs. Lillian T. Pratt of Fredericksburg, Virginia had made annual donations to the home where her friend, Miss Jessie Barlow, resided. In 1947, Mrs. Pratt made a bequest of $750,000 to the Home. Although Lillian lived in Tacoma with her mother from 1893 to 1916, no evidence shows that she and Franke ever met.

This bequest to the Franke Tobey Jones Home was sorely needed. The windfall permitted the Home to acquire adjoining land. However, by 1960 the Directors had to reconsider options. The home had ceased accepting admission applications when the number of names on the waiting list reached ninty-five, yet applications continued to flood the office. Funds were desperately needed to build on the newly purchased land.

Lillian, as a memorial to her mother, Susan Elton Thomas, bequeathed a 50-year income trust for the operations of the home. The endowment fund was much larger than needed to operate the home at that size. The perfect solution arrived in the form of a large gift from the Tenzler Foundation. Established by Mrs. Flora B. Tenzler, a life-long Tacoma resident and a generous contributor to several charities and civic efforts, the foundation gave the Home a gift providing a third of the funds necessary to build a new building. A plea for help brought many smaller donations, and soon funds for the new building were in hand. On May 22, 1962 (Franke Tobey Jones’ birthday) a ground breaking ceremony took place for the new building named Pratt-Tenzler Hall. It accommodated 70 seniors, each with a private room and bath. Pratt-Tenzler Hall opened on January 6, 1964.

The Remarkable History Continues


The Tobey Jones building underwent renovations, enlarging the individual apartments, making necessary improvements and highlighting the fine detail, craftsmanship and attention to detail that has always been at the heart of the warm, home-like campus.


Sixteen individual retirement duplex cottages were built.


The City of Tacoma selected Franke Tobey Jones to operate the neighboring Pt. Defiance~Ruston Senior Center. This was the beginning of Franke Tobey Jones’ constantly growing community programming.


An antiquated exercise program was replaced with a Senior Wellness program for residents as well as community members.


Six more duplex cottages were completed, making a total of 22 individual retirement homes.


Ground was broken on the largest-scale building project in Franke Tobey Jones’ history. Simultaneously, the campus gained a 6,000 square foot Wellness Center, a 29-unit apartment building and a renovation and expansion to both the Health Care Center and “Our Place,” the Alzheimer’s and dementia care community.


April 16th marked the day the Wellness Center was named for the M.J. Wicks Family as a thank-you for their incredibly generous gift to Franke Tobey Jones. It was a grand celebration. The Center is continuously busy with residents and community seniors.

In August, residents moved into the new Garden Apartments, the new “Our Place” center and the new extended wing of the Health Care Center.

On October 16th, a formal ribbon-cutting ceremony was held to inaugurate the new Garden Apartments.


Franke Tobey Jones embarked on a cultural and educational renaissance on campus—Senior University. Franke Tobey Jones offers lifelong learning opportunities to seniors in the community and campus residents.


Franke Tobey Jones’ Senior University program organized the first annual juried Senior Art Show which showcases recent creations of artists 55 or older and awards cash prizes.


The “refresh” of the Lillian Pratt Assisted Living Building was complete in the fall.

The ground breaking of a campus expansion was held in September 2017.  New buildings would include a Care Center with 43 skilled nursing beds and 28 memory care rooms, as well as a 16 unit independent living apartment building and one more duplex.


In July a grand opening ceremony was held for the completion of the new Care Center and the Bristol View Apartment building.  Residents started moving into Bristol View in July and into the Care Center in November.  Residents moved into the new duplex in the summer.

Continuing Service Since 1924

The care and service philosophy of Franke Tobey Jones has evolved from an institution that simply provided comfortable and attractive accommodations, good wholesome meals and basic infirmary services for the elderly, into a holistic center with a healthy and stimulating environment for residents and community members. This new way of life is based on the concept of wellness as an integrated system for promoting physical, mental and emotional well-being.

Franke Tobey Jones remains dependent upon, and indebted to, the community members that have made the growth of Franke Tobey Jones possible. Today Franke Tobey Jones remains a not-for-profit dedicated to enriching and extending the quality of life for seniors in our community. The Franke Tobey Jones 501(c)3 status benefits the greater senior community by enabling the organization to offer outreach programming from the funding it receives.

The Mission of Franke Tobey Jones

To enrich and extend the quality of life for seniors in our community. As a not-for-profit organization, we provide senior residential services, a supportive continuum of care and innovative community outreach.