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Photo by Broadmead resident Erroll Hay

Martin Trueblood and the Original Master Plan

By Jackie Mintz

Broadmead's first Executive Director, Martin Trueblood, who oversaw the creation and building of the Broadmead Retirement Community, died on April 13, 2020, at the age of 94. Hired in 1976, he presided over the construction of the community and its formative first years.

As residents living through the current construction can imagine, this undertaking was an enormous job, greater in scope than the current Master Plan project. At a cost of roughly $22 million, it was one of the biggest projects in the county (nearly $88 million in today's dollars). Besides purchasing and financing the property, the project involved building the Community Center, all 240 cluster homes, and Hill House, as well as excavating and grading hundreds of cubic yards of soil, installing miles of utilities, and constructing the roadways and parking lots. The utilities, drainage, and underground water loop for the heating/cooling system were built from scratch. In addition, enormous problems were posed by the omnipresent mud and the widespread presence of rock. Those and other problems notwithstanding, the entire campus was completed in fall 1979, in a little over a year and a half.

Initially, Martin set up temporary offices at the Stony Run Meeting House on CharlesStreet, with a three-person staff that included bookkeeper Lois Sexton, now a Broadmeadresident. In 1979, the operation moved to HollyHouse. When Hill House was completed, Martin and his wife, Margie, moved there.

According to Joe Credit, a current member of the Broadmead Board of Trustees who was then a project engineer on the Whiting Turner'sproject management team, Martin was charming and affable but also determined and energetic. He knew exactly what he wanted. He kept in mind the big picture but also paid close attention to details. He was opposed to a cookie cutter approach and weighed in on the size of the units and their internal configuration, making sure that the units were different from each other.

During an off-site trip to choose bathroom fixtures, Martin put his head under a sink faucet to confirm that residents would be able to wash their hair. He was also adamant that Hill House, which was being built for the Executive Director and his family, be of the same quality as the garden homes, with the same general layout, room sizes, and fixtures.

People who worked here at the time described Martin as sociable and gregarious, with a good sense of humor. Robin Kelley of the Corner Cupboard remembers him telling stories, often about Quakers. A predecessor to the Voice, the Broadmead Newsletter, wrote of Martin: "When you see him in a group you can probably identify him if you do not already know him as the one who is telling a funny story." Lois Sexton, Marshall Roane, andJoe Credit all recalled Martin striding rapidly around the campus with his coffee cup in hand. Marshall remembers vividly the time, during one of their walks, when Martin slipped and rolled down the hill and then scrambled back up, pleased that he had spilled no coffee.

Besides overseeing Broadmead's design and construction, Martin was deeply interested in the social nature of the community, which he described as one where both residents and staff contribute to the quality of life. He wrote, "I hope I leave behind a community that improves people's lives and that acts as a nucleus of love that can spread out far beyond the community itself."

Note: Some of the information in this story was taken from Broadmead Through the years, 25th Anniversary Volume, 2004.

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