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A Vision Renewed

It was ironic in 1973 when Dr. Thomas Kerns raised $100,000 to purchase an on old fraternity house near the University of Oregon and turn it into a treatment center for alcoholism. A young Thomas Kerns had been orphaned at the age of 16 when his father died from the effects of alcoholism and he was determined not to follow in his father’s footsteps.

Dr. Kerns opened his practice at the Eugene Clinic in 1949 and shortly thereafter began to encounter patients who suffered from alcoholism. He subsequently became aware of Alcoholics Anonymous and began to refer patients there. He eventually became known as the “the alcoholic’s doctor.” His motivation to find a better way to treat the disease ultimately led him to found Serenity Lane. Dr. Kerns was a visionary in many ways, but it’s unlikely that even he could have foreseen how many lives would be saved and how many families would be reunited as a result of his foresight.

Serenity Lane’s mission is to provide a healing environment in which chemically dependent individuals and their families discover an enhanced quality of life through long-term recovery from alcoholism and drug abuse. Over the past forty years, more than 60,000 patients have been treated at Serenity Lane’s main residential treatment center in South Eugene.

Over the years, the healing environment at the present campus began to deteriorate. What was once a quiet community of owner-occupied homes gradually degraded into a noisy neighborhood comprised of student housing, characterized by all-night parties and massive alcohol consumption.

In 2008, Serenity Lane’s board of directors realized that for Dr. Kerns’ vision to continue, Serenity Lane would need to find a new home. The board eventually selected a 15-acre parcel in Coburg. Shortly thereafter, Serenity Lane representatives joined personnel from TBG Architects and Chambers Construction and set out to visit several successful treatment centers located around the U.S. Their mission was to interview clinical professionals, medical professionals, kitchen staff, maintenance staff and others who worked in the treatment profession to ascertain how to build the best treatment center possible within their budget.

Six long years later, on September 10, 2014, Serenity Lane broke ground on their new campus in Coburg and after an 18-month construction period, the new treatment center is scheduled to receive patients on Monday, March 14th, 2016.

Dr. Kerns would be honored and humbled by this renewal of his vision. The bed capacity of the new campus will nearly double that of the old treatment center, initially expanding from 65 beds to 116. Future expansion will allow for up to 260 patients. The new hospital unit, named in honor of the late Dr. Ron Schwerzler, will increase from 10 to 22 beds. The Dr. George Teller Fitness Center will open approximately 6-8 weeks after the initial opening date and will provide the crucial exercise and fitness component to successful recovery.

Patients at the new campus will reside in one of four 3,200-square foot homes that occupy the perimeter of the campus. Other campus highlights include an expansive kitchen-dining area, a clinical training area, and a lecture hall that seats 250 people.

The official Ribbon Cutting ceremony at the new campus will start at 10:30 am on Friday March 11th.

The campus will be open to the public until 2:30pm that Friday and again on Saturday March 12th from 10:30 – 2:30pm. This is your only chance to come and see how Serenity Lane operates, after that date the campus will be closed and patients will inhabit their brand new place of healing and recovery. For more information, please contact Larry Bradley at 541-284-8609 or lbradley@serenitylane.org


Written by Larry Bradley who attended Serenity Lane as a patient in 1984 and has been in recovery for many years. He served as a Serenity Lane board member from 1993-2013.

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