Twelve American visitors came to Falmouth to commemorate the 150th anniversary of an almshouse which is home to 20 residents in self-contained flats. 

Earle's Retreat was set up in Victorian times by George Earle, the fourth of 13 children, who was born in 1807 at North Quay in Falmouth. 

As a young man he moved to London and set up business as a successful architect and builder. 

At the invitation of some Americans he emigrated there and rapidly established himself as an entrepreneur in Illinois and later Indiana. 

He was involved in building railroads and dams, and dealt in milling and real estate.  During his lifetime he founded several new townships, one of which he named Hobart after his brother Frederick Hobart Earle.   

An enormously energetic man, he never forgot his origins, and returned to Falmouth in 1868 to purchase land on Bowling Green Hill from the Earl of Kimberley for £150, to start the construction of Earle’s Retreat for the benefit of the poor in Falmouth. 

He continued to live in America until his death in Philadelphia 1876, and the retreat was administered by his brother Frederick. 

Since its foundation, it has undergone several updates and extensions, and is now home to single people over the age of 55 who have established associations with Falmouth. 

The Board of Trustees, chaired by Arnold Mooney, welcomed the visitors to a Service of Celebration in the retreat’s chapel, followed by a buffet in the common room. 

Also present were Cdr. Nicholas Trefusis, Deputy Lord Lieutenant and Cllr Trish Minson, deputy mayor of Falmouth. 

Both spoke of the generosity and humanity of the Victorian philanthropists, of which George Earle was one. 

Cllr Minson described Earle’s Retreat as one of the iconic buildings in Falmouth and a living monument which continues to care for the community. 

This was borne out by a number of messages written by the residents expressing their appreciation of the facilities and beautiful gardens, and the care given by the manager and her husband. 

Replying on behalf of the visitors, Robin Earle described their visit to Falmouth as a dream come true. 

He said he was deeply moved to have re-affirmed the link with the Retreat, and pledged a continuing interest from the American branch of the family in the work it carries out for the well being of Falmouth.