Scott Buchanan, CEO of the Ohio Masonic Home, talks about the stained glass window on the staircase in the Masonic Home’s Castle. Bill Lackey/Staff

Masonic home celebrating 125 years

The Springfield Masonic Community is celebrating 125 years and is promoting recent renovations to its facilities on the historic Springfield campus.

Originally built in 1892, the Springfield Masonic Community provides a range of services to residents 55 and older, including skilled nursing, rehabilitation, post-acute care and extended-care services. It also offers apartments and assisted living options. The anniversary will celebrate the laying of the cornerstone of the Masonic Home’s first building. The Home’s first resident was admitted in 1895.

The organization has about 600 employees and 800 residents statewide, Zelinski said.

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Along with promoting the organization’s upcoming anniversary, the agency is also making a push to make area residents more aware that all community members are eligible to live at the 250-acre Springfield campus. The organization is pushing back against the idea that only Masons are allowed to utilize the organization’s services, said Jason Zelinski, corporate director of Marketing and Communications for the Ohio Masonic Home.

The organization opened its doors to non-Masons in 2006, about a decade ago.

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“There has been a common misperception that you still have to be a Mason to come onto our campus,” Zelinski said. “That’s one of the things we’re trying to get out there is you do not have to be a Mason. We have people that think you have to be a Mason to even set foot on our campus and by no means is that at all the truth.”

Masonic home officials noted the organization is also improving its campus for the future, and has invested just shy of $20 million between 2014 and 2016 in various projects including its new Scottish Rite Apartment Building, Festival Green Clubhouse and other projects.

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The organization will host several events to celebrate its anniversary, including a food truck rally scheduled from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday, April 29 on the campus at 2655 W. National Road in Springfield. The free event will include more than a dozen food trucks, along with live music. It will include a raffle with proceeds benefiting the Second Harvest Food Bank.

The Ohio Masonic Home will also host a Home Day Sunday, June 4 that will be open to the public. Masons from across Ohio are expected to travel to the event, which will include activities for children, a parade and a rededication of the cornerstone.

Now, the Ohio Masonic Home is spread across three campuses. Along with Springfield, the organization also operates the Western Reserve Masonic Home Community in Medina, Ohio and the Browning Masonic Community in Waterville, a Toledo suburb.

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The Springfield campus also served as a children’s home from the late 1890s to 1956, serving more than 750 children over that period, Zelinzki said. When they grew up, some of those children formed an Alumni Association that still meets every two years over the July 4 weekend. The organization has served more than 10,000 elderly Masons, their wives and widows since 1895.

The upcoming anniversary celebration will provide a good opportunity to make area residents more aware of the organization, said Dan Shirk, fraternal relations director for the Ohio Masonic Community.

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“We as Masons have not done a good job over the past 300 years of getting who we are out into the community,” Shirk said. “That’s why so many people don’t know who we are or what we do. We want to change that, not only from the Ohio Masonic Home point of view, but also from the Masonic Fraternity as a whole.”

Along with other amenities, a club house and a print shop on the Springfield campus are both available for public use, Zelinski said. The print shop opened a few years ago to help the organization cut costs, but Masons soon decided to open it to the public. The club house is also open for events like graduation parties and wedding receptions, he said.

“It’s something else for us to be able to bring the general public into our community,” Zelinski said.