1898-1987: History Of The Odd Fellows Home Of Springfield Ohio
Data from Historic American Buildings Survey.
This information illustrates how the benevolent societies got into the business of caring for the elderly, how they financed their projects, and how they changed over time as the federal and state governments got into the business of providing welfare and regulating nursing home care.
Text from Historic American Buildings Survey, written in 1987:
The fraternal organization known as the Independent Order of Odd Fellow was founded in England and established in America in Baltimore, Maryland in 1819. The order burgeoned in America and dedicated itself to worldwide relief efforts stemming from its governing principals: “the strong support the weak, the well nurse the sick, the learned instruct the unlearned, and the rich help the poor.” By 1897, there were 11, 569 lodges in the United States with over 2,197,196 men having been initiated. The women’s counterpart, the Daughter’s of Rebekah, number 4,808 chapters with 298,263 members at that time.
Odd Fellows was established in Ohio prior to 1845 and grew rapidly throughout the 19th century. As of 1989, there were 721 lodges in Ohio with 61,328 members and 362 Rebekah lodges with 29,989 members.
Odd Fellows were pioneers in providing for orphans and aging, indigent, and infirm citizens. The first Odd Fellows home in the country was founded at Meadville, Pennsylvania in 1872. Ohio lodges first began considering the need for an Ohio home in 1864, when the Ironten lodge formed a committee to urge the Grand Lodge of Ohio to establish a home and school for orphans in the state. Not until 1882 however, was formal action taken when a separate Odd Fellows Association was incorporated to build a “Home for Indigent Brothers.” After years of deliberation, the first home in Ohio was opened near Mildale, Ohio in Hamilton County in 1890. It was known as the Rossmoyne Home and served aged and infirm Odd Fellows as well as some of their wives and widows. This home was operated by the Odd Fellows and Rebekah Lodges of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, and subsequently was taken over by the Grand Lodge of Ohio later in the 1890’s. It was the seventh such Odd Fellows Home to be opened in the nation.
Even before Rossmoyne was officially opened, Ohio Odd Fellows began to investigate erecting an orphanage in the state. At the Grand Lodge session in Toledo, Ohio, in 1889 a special committee was appointed “for the purpose of considering the advisability of erecting a Home for deceased Odd Fellow’s Children…” this “action by the Grand Lodge is in the nature of the excavation for the foundation upon which the Springfield Home was built.” It was not until 1896 although, that formal action was taken toward establishing the home at Springfield, Ohio. During the Grand Lodge session in May at Lima, Ohio, $45,000 was allotted and plans drawn by Columbus architects Tost and Packard were accepted for erection of the home. In August the contract for construction was let with F.J. Evans and Son of Zanesville, Ohio at a cost of $57,187 (including alterations to the original cost and plans.) The official name was the “Odd Fellows Home of Ohio” and it was financed through assessments on all Ohio Lodges for construction and maintenance. By the time of its completion in May 1898, it had been decided that the home would admit aged Odd Fellows, their widows, and orphans. The Rosemoyne Home was put up for sale at this time. The grand dedication of the Odd Fellows Home at Springfield was held on October 27, 1898 following a parade through the city and march to the home then on the northern edge of the town. The site was on a hill overlooking Springfield and consisted of approximately 73 acres, most of which was used eventually for farming and activities associated with providing the home with fresh produce, dairy products and meat.
- The main building is constructed for a cost of $57,187.1901 – IOOF brother Arthur G. Bobcox, a landscape architect of Cleveland, prepared a landscape plan for the grounds around the house. A subscription plan of selling coin-tokens among the various lodges to raise money to implement the plan was not successful. It is not recorded if any of the original plan was carried out, but in 1902, the Wade Park Lodge of Cleveland did plant trees and flower beds on the grounds.
- The home was full with approximately 250 residents and discussions began concerning an addition. In that same year, the home was electrified at a cost of $841 per year, and a dairy was installed in an adjacent barn.
- A separate building to house a laundry and power plant was erected behind the main building for $9,962.
- Two, 3-story story wings were added to either side of the original structure, extending from the rear of the east and west sections of the original home at 45 degree angles. Also added were a kitchen at the rear of the dining room, tunnels for a new steam heating system, automatic fire doors, fire walls, and interior finishing. The total cost of these additions was $66,481.
- A 2-story hospital building was constructed at the northwest corner of the property approximately 30 feet from the end of the western wing. The hospital building was “H” shaped in plan. It eventually became the “Intermediate Care Facility.”
- Another building, a nursery, was added to the northeast of the eastern wing in about the same location as the hospital on the west.
- The nursery becomes the offices of the Ohio I.O.O.F. Grand Lodge.
- The eastern and western wings were connected to the nursery and hospital by brick buildings, and two side porches on the original central block were enclosed and utilized as sitting rooms for the residents. Sometime after that one wing became part of the “Intermediate Care Facility” and the other became the “Ladies Rest Home.”
- State regulations forced the home to close its orphanage facilities and to accept only elderly residents.
- Sometime between 1960 and 1987
- A swimming pool was filled in and one bathhouse was removed (there is no mention about when they were built).
- “With a mortgage guarantee from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban development new nursing care wings will be added to the east and west of the original main building and the original building will be renovated. This project was necessitated by the need to meet state and federal requirements for nursing care facilities and in order to ‘take full advantage of advances in modern research in the study of aging needs.’ Part of the rear wings of the original building, as well as both 1907 wings and the hospital building will be demolished. The dining room/kitchen and chapel/auditorium section of the main building, the Grand Lodge Office, the boiler plant, and the garage will remain. The new intermediate care wings will serve 100 residents, while the original building will serve 100 self-care (board and care) residents. The cost of the project is estimated at $3.1 million. The Odd Fellows’ will sell bonds to finance the project.