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Covington Ladies Home to be rebranded as Victorian at Riverside; street renamed to honor founder

By Mark Hansel
NKyTribune managing editor

The easternmost tip of Seventh Street was renamed Battelle Lane in a ceremony at the Covington Ladies Home Friday afternoon.

Covington Ladies Home CEO Carrie Vanderzee shows a proclamation from the City of Covington recognizing the Covington Ladies Home and its founder Ellen Battelle Dietrick (photos by Mark Hansel)

The event included a proclamation from Covington Mayor Joseph U. Meyer and the unveiling of a street sign recognizing the name change.

The Covington Ladies Home was founded by Ellen Battelle Dietrick in 1886 and has been in continuous service since that date.

The Home, located at Seventh and Garrard streets, provides high-quality personal care to senior women in a community-based and homelike setting.

Its goal is to assist with basic care needs in a manner that respects the individual’s dignity, maximizes independent functioning and encourages continued social contacts.

Carrie Vanderzee, CEO of the Covington Ladies Home, said the staff strives to achieve that objective every day.

“We work in a ladies home and that is a tremendous privilege,” Vanderzee said. “We will soon be adding on a new wing to accommodate more women and also give private baths to the ladies that we serve.”

That’s not the only change coming to the Covington Ladies Home.

CEO Carrie Vanderzee said the facility will always be known as the Covington Ladies Home, but is being rebranded as the Victorian at Riverside.

“We will always legally be the Covington Ladies Home, but we are rebranding as the Victorian at Riverside,” Vanderzee said. “(This change is) to honor the Victorian home that Ellen Battelle Dietrick built on this corner and also to honor that amazing woman.”

Becky Jones, a past board president of the Covington Ladies Home provided some insights into its founder.

She said Dietrick changed history because she was willing to become who she meant to be.

“So many women and men throughout history have been compelled to live out the roles created for them by others,” Jones said.  “Those public and private expectations about who we are supposed to be can too often stifle the divine calling that I believe exists in each one of us.”

Dietrick recognized that those expectations existed, Jones said, but was not constrained by them.

“She was a woman who, as the daughter of a Methodist preacher, was at the same time, firm enough in her beliefs, yet free enough in her conviction, to confront the root causes of social inequities facing women,” Jones said.

A crowd of community stakeholders gathered at the Covington Ladies Home Friday to see a portion of Seventh Street renamed in honor of its founder, Ellen Battelle Dietrick.

For more information on Dietrick, the Battle family and the history of the Covington Ladies Home, click here

Meyer said the changes at the Covington Ladies Home mirror those going on throughout the city of Covington.

“I look at this as another step in Covington’s revitalization,” Meyer said. “As you all know, here in Covington we are very proud of our past, very proud of our history. To learn about the Battelle legacy and to learn that all of that happened right here in Covington is just another piece of the richness of our fabric that most of us are unaware of.”

Meyer, who grew up in Covington, shared a story from his youth about a sign on the front of the Ladies Home that identified it as a home for aged and indigent women.

“We always mispronounced that, and somehow, I think that Ellen Battelle would appreciate it when we talk about the home for aged and indignant women,” Meyer said, drawing a laugh from the crowd. “I have a sense, that if I knew Ellen Battelle, she would be indignant at the way things have gone in government and politics and the role of women. The fact that she stood up as strongly as she did, in her day, and for the women yet today, is a good lesson for all  of us.”

For more information on the Covington Ladies Home, and the legacy of Ellen Battle Dietrick, click here.

Contact Mark Hansel at mark.hansel@nkytrib.com

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