In 1911, Dr. Olin E. Holloway, Past Grand Master, was the acknowledged leader of the Masonic Home movement, which began much earlier with the persistent prodding of the Eastern Stars. In that year, he sponsored a motion to start construction and enlisted the aid of his own Lodge's Senior Deacon, Richard H. Schweitzer, who tirelessly traveled up and down the state of Indiana telling the story of the Mason's Widow and Orphans project and enlisting funds until a total of $313,917 had been raised from all sources.
The Home opened its doors on October 21, 1916 and received 38 guests the first week. In November, of that same year, the first children arrived. In 1920, Superintendent Fletcher W. Boyd voiced his concern that there could soon be a waiting list to enter the Home. Four years later his fears were founded.
As the Home grew, ensuing donations and increased dues for master masons made it possible to install a well – creating an independent water source for residents – build barns, poultry and hog houses, plant an orchard, buy farm and gardening equipment, buy surrounding farm land and, in effect, create a self-sustaining community of its own.
Mrs. Nettie Ransford, a loyal Home worker, died in November 1928. The Grand Chapter created a "Nettie Ransford Day," an annual occasion for Lodges and Eastern Stars to visit and contribute canned fruit. The Craft Club of Englewood Lodge #715, Indianapolis, staged annual fireworks displays on the Fourth of July, attracting thousands of area residents.
An annual pilgrimage to the Home was institued in 1948 and was on every Lodge's calendar. At its peak, there was always a crowd of at least 6,000. At this point, the Masonic Home had become a thriving community.
On October 21, 1915, the laying of the cornerstone was celebrated with a huge parade the likes of which had never been seen before in the city of Franklin. Fourteen extra interurban cars were employed to operate between Indianapolis and Franklin and eighty cars were made available to chauffeur visitors. It was estimated that more than 15,000 were on the grounds to observe this event.
The parade accompanying the laying of the cornerstone was spectacular as it passed the Franklin College Campus, girls were seated on the grass in the formation of the square and compass and the Commanderies of Knights Templar was something to behold.
1915 — Construction
of 53 rooms,
Boy's Cottage One to house 30,
Boy's Cottage Two and Three duplex to house 60,
Girl's Cottage One to house 30,
Hospital's first unit with 15 beds, and
Equipped the Power Plant and the Service Building
Please single click on the pictures to enlarge them.
1917 — Additions to the Administration Building's east and west wing, to add 40 rooms.
1918 — Built Girl's Cottage Two, to house 35.
1920 — Added Scottish Rite Memorial Building for men, to house 60.
1921 — Added entrance Arch, Fountain with basin, approaches and stone benches.
1922 — Built High School (Holloway Hall) and 16-room addition to the Eastern Star Hospital.
1923 — Added the Greenhouse.
1925 — Built Girl's Cottage Three and Four duplex, to house 80.
1927 — Added 48 more rooms to the Scottish Rite Memorial Building.
1928 — Built a four-story addition to the Eastern Star Hospital, to add 32 more rooms.
1930 — Completed the Boy's Cottage Four and Five duplex, to house 70.