The Charlotte Senior Center was built through the generous bequest of Walter Irish and opened in 2002. To learn more, you can view this video from Shirley Bean, one of the founders of the organization. She became involved in the town’s efforts to build the center in 2000, and was elected as the first president of the Friends of the Walter Irish Senior Center, the non-profit organization that manages the operations of the center.
More historical information is available in the Charlotte Town Plan of 2016:
4.6.9 Charlotte Senior Center
In 1998 the Town of Charlotte learned of a bequest by Charlotte resident, Walter Irish, of $500,000 for the purpose of constructing a senior center in Charlotte. Under the terms of the bequest, the Town had two years from notification of the gift (July 1998) to decide if it would accept the money. The Selectboard appointed a committee to coordinate a study to determine the feasibility of constructing the center using the bequest and to report on findings. The feasibility study was completed in January 1999 in preparation for Town Meeting 1999.
To prepare the feasibility study, focus group discussions were held to discuss location, management, type of building, programmatic structure and scope, and users of a senior center in Charlotte. There was consensus in these discussions that the Senior Center should be located in the West Village as close as possible to other facilities such as the library, Town hall, post office, and store. The group agreed that the management should be by a non-profit group or should be modeled on a system used for the library and that fund raising, including grants from the Town, will be a necessary part of the success of a center. There was consensus that a new building would be more feasible as opposed to renovating an existing structure.
Whether to accept the Irish bequest with the Town funding the operation of a senior center gained a unanimous advisory vote of approval (Article 9) at the 1999 Annual Town Meeting. During 2001, construction of the Senior Center began, after completion of investigations and Town input as to the design and location of the facility. In the fall of 2001, the Town took over ownership of the property, and responsibility for maintenance and operation. Construction was completed, and a Board of Directors was selected. The Board of Directors hired a part-time coordinator, who reports to both the Senior Center Board and the Selectboard. The Senior Center has become a very active, engaging and inclusive organization and community asset. It is now hard to imagine Charlotte without the Senior Center.