Masonic Homes at Elizabethtown

Masonic HomesThis May, the Masonic Homes of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania celebrated 90 years of service to the Fraternity, family members, and communities. Rated AA- by Standard and Poor's last year, the Masonic Homes is considered the most financially stable continuing care retirement community in the nation. This firm foundation of excellence has allowed the organization to build affiliations, purchase additional facilities, and construct new buildings to offer more choices and services for the Fraternity across the state. With nine decades of experience and expertise to perpetuate the fine tradition of Masonic charity, the changes and growth opportunities challenging the organization will undoubtedly translate into bigger and better services for the membership.

Visiting the Masonic Homes at Elizabethtown for the first time is an overwhelming experience for many. The grandeur of the majestic architecture... the beautiful, breathtaking landscape... all create the initial impression of the overall excellence that is carried throughout the campus. Possibly even more impressive is the fact that a group of Masonic leaders in the early 1900s began the community with a practicality of construction, an appreciation for horticulture, and a desire for state-of-the-art health care services for members and their loved ones... all before retirement communities and children's homes were common. Not only were they ahead of their time, but their plans of yesteryear continue to prosper as our leaders of today continue their work and vision in the same tradition of Masonic charity.

For example, many retirement communities only recently considered connecting buildings for residents' comfort when walking between living and service areas during inclement weather. The Masonic Homes, however, engineered its first underground passageway in 1918. Today, residents continue to use those tunnels, and the same consideration was made when planning for the Independent Living Community in the late 1980s. This level of forethought and genuine concern for the comfort, convenience, and preferences of residents contributes to the Masonic Homes' overall success as a community.

Always striving to balance its goals of being on the cutting edge and practical at the same time, the Committee on Masonic Homes continues to plan for the impact of today's decisions on tomorrow. The committee understands that continuous quality improvement is a never-ending process, whether that means training for staff, receiving input from residents, offering new services, improving the services already offered, or building new facilities to serve the needs of residents. Under the committee's direction and guidance, two major construction and renovation projects are currently in the works at the Elizabethtown and Sewickley campuses to further the Masonic Homes' Mission of Love.

In Elizabethtown, the Masonic Homes is in the process of modernizing, improving, and expanding services currently provided in the Village Green Area.

Many of these projects were led by ideas generated in resident focus groups, task forces of residents and employees working together, as well as by input from residents involved in specific activities and employees with related experience and knowledge. The Committee on Masonic Homes, working with staff and the Resident Council leaders, took that information and worked with architects, engineers, contractors, and interior designers to turn those ideals into workable realities.

R.W. Grand Master Robert L. Dluge, Jr., Chairman of the Committee on Masonic Homes, recognized that the continuous growth of the Elizabethtown campus has created a need for space to accommodate more residents and staff for programming, Masonic meetings, special events, and additional requests made by members and the community. The Masonic Health Care Center Assembly Room, currently the largest room on campus, accommodates 300 to 400 persons. In the strategic planning sessions for the current project, Grand Master Dluge emphasized the importance for the Committee on Masonic Homes to consider the long-term impact of their decisions.

"We need to ensure that the decisions we make today regarding this construction project will accommodate the growth of our homes for years to come," he said. With this vision for the future, it was decided that a large ballroom should be built in connection with the Recreation Building.