1892 photograph of the Ohio Masonic Home castle cornerstone. Photo contributed by the Ohio Masonic Community

Doors open to explore one of Springfield’s historic gems this weekend

On a hill overlooking the Mad River Valley, the Springfield Masonic Community looks very much like a castle.

In fact that’s how most of us describe it while giving directions. (Take the exit next to the castle on the hill.)

For 125 years this beautiful building has dominated Springfield’s southwest horizon, but how many of us have ever gone into that castle? How many of us have surveyed our tree-filled city from those heights? The Masonic Community hopes that after this Sunday, more people will be able to answer, “I have.”

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The 33rd annual Masonic Home Day will be held on June 4 and admission is free. Beginning at 11 a.m., the campus will welcome neighbors and surrounding communities for a good old-fashioned-style celebration that includes tours of the campus, children’s activities and some fantastic food trucks. The Masonic Heritage Museum will also have its grand opening on that day.

You may have to come back another time to see all of the museum. Jason Zielinski, corporate director of marketing and communication, tells me it’s full of fascinating information and displays.

This Home Day is particularly special because the Masonic Community is also celebrating 125 years since the cornerstone was placed for the first building, the castle. And June 24 is also the 300th anniversary of the modern Masonic Fraternity, which began in London, England, in 1717. A parade around the grounds begins at 3 p.m. and wraps up the day with music, clowns, classic cars, characters and the famous Shriners’ mini-cars. Activities conclude at 4:30 p.m.

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Chad Simpson, who’s director of program development for the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Ohio, explained that the building’s mission has changed over the years. The original Masonic Home of 125 years ago was mainly for orphans. Today behind the castle there’s a large, diverse campus with multiple modern buildings and a variety of purposes for adults 55 and older.

It really does look like a picturesque town back there with shade trees, beautiful lawns and gardens. There are independent living homes and apartments, in addition to assisted-living apartments and the large skilled nursing care facility. There’s even a new building for those with dementia. Other memorable structures include a print shop, a lovely building for meetings and parties, and areas for picnics.

I was also surprised to learn that these facilities are now also available to seniors over the age of 55 who aren’t Masons.

As Simpson, who works in that big castle, explained to me, the campus has a reputation for being very welcoming. He feels that the natural “esprit de corps,” camaraderie and fellowship that Masons have developed from their years of service helps them reach out to new residents to make them feel at home.

It’s one of Springfield’s hidden gems and I hope members of the community will accept this offer to visit and explore the Masonic Community on the hill. It’s one of Clark County’s beautiful treasures.

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