Press Room

Masonic Homes of Kentucky Celebrates 150 Years of Heritage, Hope and Home

Home established to care for widows and orphans of Masons is today an expert in modern aging care for all.


Media Contact:
Nicole Candler, Sr. VP / Communications and Marketing
Masonic Homes of Kentucky
502.753.8896, 502.550.0252

LOUISVILLE, KY (January 1, 2016) – It began in a cornfield during a blinding snowstorm – construction of Masonic Homes of Kentucky that would go on to change the course of thousands of lives.

The 150th anniversary of Masonic Homes is a remarkable milestone for the longtime community caregiver, created to take in orphans and widows of Masons killed in the Civil War, and that later served families affected by World War I, coal mining accidents and other hardships.

The Masons – a group with a legacy of giving and charity – saw early the need for a home to tend to and care for those families left behind by the Civil War that hit Kentucky hard. Today, the Masons’ tradition of doing good continues as Masonic Homes has evolved to become an expert in modern aging care and other specialized services for people of all ages and affiliations, at both its historic St. Matthews location in Louisville, as well as two other Kentucky campuses in Shelbyville and Northern Kentucky.

“It’s incredible to look back on the start of Masonic Homes 150 years ago, and to look at where we are today,” said Gary Marsh, President and CEO of Masonic Homes. “What started as a refuge for widows and orphans has evolved to focus on caring for older adults and is now on the leading edge of senior care services. We’ve stood the test of time by changing with the times.”

Former residents and families to join anniversary celebrations

Masonic Homes of Kentucky will celebrate its milestone anniversary with a yearlong celebration of “Heritage, Hope and Home.” Special projects and events throughout the year will honor key contributions to Masonic Homes’ legacy, which has led to its role today as an innovative community caregiver.

The anniversary celebration will include:

  • A full-length documentary that will air on KET beginning in February, featuring interviews with pivotal Masonic Homes leaders, “alumni” (former Home residents) and senior living industry experts.
  • A Day at the Capitol, which will include lunch at the Kentucky Governor’s Mansion as Masonic Homes gathers with state, local and Masonic leaders to recognize the significance of Masons in the Commonwealth.
  • Attempting to set the Guinness World Record for the largest Square and Compass – the symbol of the Masons who founded Masonic Homes. The effort will take place at the annual Great Day of Service in April.
  • Alumni reunion in June that will include establishing a new time capsule.
  • The annual Masonic Communities and Services Association Conference in June for more than 30 aging care communities from around the country who also are rooted in the Masonic tradition and focused on the conference theme, “Perfectly Aged.”
  • An interactive display at the Masonic Homes’ campus in Louisville, telling the Masonic Homes story, featuring photos and artifacts. A traveling version will also be available.
  • Home for the Holidays campus light tour in December 2017. An audio driving tour will take guests through the rich history of the Louisville and Shelbyville campuses, decked out in garland and lights for the holidays.

The rich history of Masonic Homes will also be celebrated and shared throughout 2017 on, a website devoted to the sesquicentennial, as well as on the Masonic Homes of Kentucky’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

The anniversary website will include historic photos and video galleries of alumni memories, a timeline of historic events, event listings, and more. Alumni are invited to offer their stories and share information about many old photos from the Home.

A rich history

The lives of many children from rural areas were transformed at the “Little City Beautiful,” as it was known, as children were educated in traditional studies, and also learned important trades such as printmaking, woodworking and farming. For many of the kids, coming to the Home in Louisville gave them opportunities they otherwise would not have had.

“In my own personal case, it’s the best thing that happened to me,” said Mickey McGuire, an alumni of the Home who graduated in 1951 and went on to become an attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice.  “I came here and got a good education and got a chance to go to college.”

In 1926, the Home moved to a larger, Olmsted-designed 127-acre site in St. Matthews as the need continued to grow and more Kentucky widows and orphans arrived as a result of WWI, coal mining accidents and other hardships. By 1927, 18 buildings were completed and on August 15, 427 children were brought by bus and car to live in their new quarters.

Eugene Blanton came to the Home from a small town in Eastern Kentucky after losing his father at age 11.

“You come from the mountains where you live in a four-room house with 11 people,” he said. “You carry your water, you split the wood, you cut the trees down…it’s constant labor, either working in the gardens or the chores. Then you come down to a building that’s got slate roofs, made of brick, really built to last, and slick, cold, marble hallway floors on your feet. You begin to notice there’s quite a difference. I thought I’d died and gone to heaven.”

A bright future

In 1989, the Homes’ last child left and the Home began to focus on providing senior care, building The Pillars Assisted Care Center. It was the beginning of a trajectory that took on a rapid pace in the early 2000s, with Spring Hill Retirement Community in Taylor Mill established that year.

Soon after, cutting-edge services and facilities for memory care, short- and long-term rehabilitation, personal care, skilled nursing care, dialysis, child development, active lifestyle communities, Life Care, in-home care, and more were added, including the $40 million Sam Swope Center in 2010, which offers person-centered care in a home environment.

Sproutlings Pediatric Day Care & Preschool opened the next year on the Louisville Campus, the only program in the region serving medically fragile and typical children.

Ground was broken last fall at the Louisville campus on The Meadow, a new active lifestyle facility, which joins the Miralea Active Lifestyle Community that was established in 2012 and achieved 95 percent occupancy in eight months.

Along with The Meadow, construction is set to start in 2017 at the Louisville campus on a 48-unit assisted living facility called Grove Pointe.

“It’s rewarding to see the many lives we continue to touch through today’s Masonic Homes, which today operates as a nonprofit serving people without regards to affiliation,” said Marsh. “Through our 150-year legacy of care and compassion, coupled with technology and innovation of today, Masonic Homes is ready to serve tomorrow’s residents.”

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