South Franklin Circle Home Styles: Where Life is Dog-Gone Good

South Franklin Circle resident Connie Miller thought she had left nothing to chance when she started planning a move from her Beachwood condo. After all, Connie’s 39-year career as a registered nurse had taught her nothing if not the value of proactive planning. “I have seen how disruptive it is when people have to make choices in the middle of a crisis,” she says. “And that was not going to be me.”

In the end, though, it was fate – and foot surgery – that finally forced her hand.

“I had been getting ready to sell my condo for about a year,” Connie recalls. “It was just too big for me. But then, all of a sudden, I needed foot surgery. Afterward, I found myself in bed with my foot elevated for two months, wearing a heavy boot and trying to take care of my dog. I thought, ‘Where is my Plan B? I really need a Plan B!’”

The vivacious senior swung into action. “I read everything I could find about retirement communities,” Connie says. “I looked at traditional versus continuing care communities, for-profit versus non-profit programs, and at locations throughout Northeast Ohio. I was open to everything, but I kept asking myself about each one, ‘Is this a place where I really want to live?’”

As she found herself crossing one spot after another off her list, her son – a Chagrin Falls resident – had an idea.

“He suggested that I look at South Franklin Circle,” Connie recalls. “And do you know what? It met 100 percent of my criteria!”

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Since August, Connie has been the proud occupant of a light-filled, one-bedroom apartment at SFC that she shares with Marigold, her 10-year-old Cavalier King Charles spaniel. While she praises the apartment’s physical charms – a balcony, French doors, a gas fireplace, cathedral ceilings and soaring windows with an ever-engaging view of forests and fields – pet-friendliness was tops on Connie’s list.

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“One of my first considerations was for Marigold,” Connie says. “And boy, did she luck out! Between the walking trails, the dog park, the bus that takes residents and their dogs to other dog parks each Monday, the treats at the concierge station … she’s one lucky dog!”

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Plus, Connie appreciated the fact that there were no restrictions on the size or breed of dogs allowed, or on which apartments were available to pet owners. “There were really no barriers. I give South Franklin Circle very high marks on the pet-friendly scale!”

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An active senior whose hobbies have ranged from horseback riding and scuba diving to cooking, quilting, and travel, Connie also values the community’s focus on lifelong learning. “When choosing my new home, I was looking for a place that offered a variety of activities and that supported my own interests,” she says. “What I discovered when I talked to residents here is that lifelong learning isn’t just a concept: It’s the lifestyle! That was also very appealing.”

In fact, in the short time she has been at SFC, Connie has already attended a three-part program on the South Newbury Union Chapel and the role it played in women’s suffrage, and has taken part in a 12-week book discussion group that considered detective novels of the 1930s and ‘40s. “It’s been wonderful,” she says. “I’ve been introduced to things I never knew – and never even thought about – before!”

Between lectures, discussion groups and walks with Marigold, Connie still somehow found time to oversee painting, new flooring installation, and some minor remodeling in her apartment. “My style is just the things I love,” she says about her eclectic decor.

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Family treasures include a pair of antique French wall sconces, her grandmother’s cherry corner cabinet, and a stained-glass image of a sailing ship, framed in wood salvaged from a former home. “They are all things that mean something to me,” she says. “Thank goodness they all seem to complement each other!”

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Connie says that while she isn’t hung up on material objects, she does appreciate her heirlooms’ history. “I enjoy the sense of calmness and peace these things bring to my home. And sitting in front of the fireplace, with a fire burning, it just feels perfect!”

Meantime, there are pies to bake, programs to attend, and all the other activities that contribute to a fulfilling lifestyle. “The first thing I did when I decided to move here was get my bike tuned up,” Connie marvels. “But I’ve only ridden it twice.”

And why is that?

“I’m just too busy!”

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