In the early 1880's, a mason named John D. Jennings of Grand Rapids, Michigan recognized a need within the Michigan Masonic community for a place where 'aged and infirm' Masons and their wives, widows, or orphans could go to receive medical and social care. The place he envisioned would assure Masons and their loved ones --
... that their declining years (would) be as bright and comfortable as human efforts and love can make them .
Brother Jennings's passion for the project is captured in the petition for support that he presented to fellow Masons, a portion of which reads:
...we propose to lay before our brethren of Michigan the feasibility of establishing a home in the city of Grand Rapids for the protection of indigent aged Masons, where they can be protected against want in their waning hours, and be assured of our brotherly love. You are appealed to, to join us in this philanthropic cause, of helping the needy poor and worthy master Mason, his widow, or his orphan, in their aged declining years, when unable to help themselves.
By the End of 1885 the Michigan Masonic Home Association was organized and two years later 112 acres of land adjoining Reed's Lake in Grand Rapids were purchased for $10,000. The foundation for the Home was laid in 1888 and on January 27, 1891 the Home was formally dedicated.
Before long it became evident that without funds to sustain it the Home would have to close. In 1897 after much discussion, a plan to maintain the Home through charitable contributions by 'Masons and other charitably disposed people' was devised and control of the Home was released from the Masonic Home Association and conveyed to seven Trustees for the Masonic Fraternity of Michigan.
From Ashes to Alma
On a cold Wednesday morning in February of 1910, tragedy struck in the form of devastating fire. Through no lives were lost, the Home itself was completely destroyed leaving everyone to wonder, should the Home be rebuilt? If so, where? A fact-finding committee charged with answering those questions had barely set to work before a certain Ammi W. Wright of Alma generously offered the Grand Lodge of Michigan sixty acres of land along with the Alma Sanitarium for the sum of one dollar.
Grand Master G. Roscoe Swift accepted the offer and in late 1910 the Michigan Masonic Home was 'moved' to Alma.
Since its dedication on March 29, 1912, Masonic Pathways has grown to become one of the premiere continuing care retirement communities in Michigan today.
The unwavering support of the Masonic community, coupled with the dedication of devoted staff and volunteers, assure that the Home will continue to bring innovative services and exceptional care to residents for many more years to come.