Our History

Our team has nearly thirty years of experience creating exceptional communities and together, we create places that are unlike anything you’d ever expect from a retirement community. We’re incredibly proud of our history, and because of it, we’re poised for a very bright future.

David Freshwater and David Barnes studying community plan

In 1985, David Freshwater founded The Fountains and over the next two decades, he developed, owned and operated, for himself, for his investors and for third parties, a wide range of seniors housing communities recognized as both innovative and successful. During this period The Fountains grew into one of the nation’s top 25 seniors housing owners and operators.

David Barnes joined The Fountains in 1989, and ultimately served as Senior Vice President of Operations. Often traveling to Fountains communities to manage onsite programs, Barnes developed the systems, policies and training materials essential for the successful growth of The Fountains. The track record of the resulting management platform has proved it to be scalable, flexible and robust.

The sale of the company did not slow the team’s extraordinary momentum. Leveraging their outstanding reputation and track record, Freshwater and Barnes turned to new challenges: teaming up to fulfill a longstanding dream to own and create a new and different kind of community to serve an emerging new market.
From 1991 through 1997, The Fountains’ portfolio grew from a fractional share of 260 units to 100% ownership of nearly 4,000 units/beds in 14 communities, with reported assets of $220 million, gross revenues of $42 million and a net operating income of nearly $4 million. During this period, The Fountains won numerous awards, including induction into the Order of Excellence by Contemporary Long Term Care magazine, selection by the American Seniors Housing Association as one of its Case Studies in Success and one of Top Six Retirement Communities in America by Money.

On July 1, 2005, with annual revenues on 4,829 units topping nearly $200 million, producing an NOI of over $50 million, The Fountains was acquired by Sunrise Senior Living for approximately $500 million, one of the largest such transactions in the history of the seniors housing industry.

The sale of the company did not slow the team’s extraordinary momentum.  Leveraging their outstanding reputation and track record, Freshwater and Barnes turned to new challenges: teaming up to fulfill a longstanding dream to own and create a new and different kind of community to serve an emerging new market.

During this transition period, the team continued to direct their vision toward the future. Before the end of 2005, the team co-invested with an investment partner in its first senior housing portfolio consisting of five senior housing communities in the Northeast. In 2006, the team continued to build the company, completing the purchase of 3030 Park, the first CCRC in New England located in Fairfield County, Connecticut. Just one month later the team completed the purchase of The Fountains at Logan Square East, a CCRC located in Center City Philadelphia. Logan Square East was one of the few assets not sold as part of the Sunrise Senior Living transaction in 2005.

The purchase of these two large CCRCs triggered another important milestone . The Watermark brand was launched.

In 2007 the team purchased another CCRC, The Watermark at East Hill, in Southbury, Connecticut with a plan to reposition and expand its campus.

The next significant milestone in Watermark’s history was the 2010 appointment to manage the 16-community Fountains portfolio. Over this period, Watermark also invested in three home health agencies and in June 2011 completed the closing two properties located in Beverly Hills and Livermore, California. In August 2012, Watermark completed the closing of a portfolio in Des Moines, Iowa, consisting of four communities. In December 2012, Watermark completed the closing of Courtyard Fountains in Gresham, Oregon.

2013-2018 has seen the team’s momentum grow. In December 2013, the team purchased Pinebrook Retirement Living, a 125-unit independent living community located in Milford, Ohio (Cincinnati). In January of 2014, the team purchased Harvard Square, a 183-unit independent and assisted living community located in Denver, Colorado. In February of 2014, the team closed on a 202-unit independent living community located in an affluent Dallas suburb, and in the summer of 2014 TFG/Watermark purchased a two asset portfolio of 182 assisted living and memory care units in the Bay area, and closed on The Cottages of Carmel, 57 units of assisted living and memory care in Carmel. The Hacienda at The River, an innovative Assisted Living, Memory Care and Rehabilitation & Skilled Nursing community, in Tucson, AZ opened in 2017 in the same year that the team acquired a portfolio of nine communities in Rochester NY. Construction is well underway on another Hacienda community in Tucson, called The Hacienda at the Canyon, in the Catalina Foothills at Sabino Canyon. It will have Independent Living, Assisted Living and Memory Care. In 2018 Watermark announced the development of The Watermark at Brooklyn Heights in Brooklyn Heights, NY and The Watermark at Napa Valley in Napa Valley, CA.

2019 continues the upward trajectory with the acquisition of even more communities. Four Assisted Living and Memory Care communities in Arizona were acquired: Joshua Springs Senior Living, Bullhead City; Caliche Senior Living, Casa Grande; White Cliffs Senior Living, Kingman and The Watermark at Continental Ranch, Marana. Freemont Hills, Freemont, CA and The Watermark at San Ramon, San Ramon CA were added to our west coast offerings. The Preston of the Park Cities, the finest in Dallas Senior Living, was added to the portfolio in August, 2019. The end of 2019 will see the much anticipated opening of The Hacienda at the Canyon, The Watermark at Brooklyn Heights and The Watermark at Napa Valley.

With our eye to 2020, we reflect on nearly three decades in our Resource Center at 2020 Rudasill, Tucson, AZ. In the past thirty years we’ve watched Watermark grow as demand for better, more innovative options that break free from stereotypes has increased. We’re now heading rapidly to 60+ communities and continuing to create extraordinary and innovative places where people thrive by growing our team, so much so, a second Resource Center was opened near The Hacienda at River on First Ave. in Tucson. Even as we expand, we’re dedicated to remaining small enough to be quick and nimble, maintaining close attention to each community. We intend to stay flexible enough to respond to individual needs with our vision statement always at the forefront. That guiding light has allowed us to build a strong foundation for the exciting future we envision for all Watermark communities and those we serve.