History of the Odd Fellows Odd Fellows Home of Ohio, Springfield Ohio
The fraternal organization known as the Independent Order of Odd Fellows 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 it's governing principles: "the strong support the weak, the well nurse the sick, the learned instruct the unlearned, and the rich help the poor." (I.O.O.F. brochure; Ohio Grand Lodge.) 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, numbered 4,808 chapters with 298,263 members at that time.
Odd Fellowship was established in Ohio prior to 1845 and grew rapidly throughout the 19th century. As of 1898, there were 721 lodges in Ohio with 61,328 members and 362 Rebekah lodges with 29,989 members. (Currently there are 155 lodges with 4,249 Odd Fellows and 187 Rebekah Lodges with 8,376 members.)
Odd Fellows were pioneers in providing for orphans and aging, indigent, and infirm citizens. The first Odd Fellows home in this country was founded at Meadville, Pennsylvania in 1872. Ohio lodges first began considering the need for an Ohio home in 1864, when the Ironton 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." (Dodd, p. viii.). 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 Yost and Packard were accepted for erection of the home. In August the contract for construction was let with R.J. Evans and Son of Zanesville, Ohio at a cost of $57,187 (including alterations to the original cost and plains.) 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 Rossmoyne 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 in arch 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.
Over the years, the Odd Fellows Home has continued its goal of aiding needy citizens. The success of this mission brought about the need for expansion and included two large housing wings (now part of the Intermediate Care Facility and the Ladies Rest Home) in 1907, a hospital in 1916, and a nursery (now the Grand Lodge of Ohio office) in c. 1925, and additions to connect the hospital and nursery to the main building in the 1950's. In 1962, state regulations forced the home to close its orphanage facilities and to accept only elderly residents. The home has operated as a nursing home and intermediate care facility since that time. Residents now need not be associated with the Odd Fellows or Rebekah Organizations to qualify for acceptance. The odd Fellows Home is licensed by the State and Medicare/Medicaide approved by the Federal Government and accepts both those requiring nursing care and well elderly men and women.
The Odd Fellows Home operates under the auspices of the Grand Lodge of Ohio and is managed by a Board of Trustees appointed by the Grand Lodge.
Springfield, Ohio, the site of the Odd Fellows Home, js a city with a population of 72,563 according to the 1980 Census Report. (Since 1970, the population has dropped over 9,000 people.) Springfield is situated in Central Ohio, fifty miles from Columbus. Founded in 1799, it was incorporated as a city in 1850. It is located on a former National Road, now known as U.S. Rt 40, which cut across the nation in the mid-19th century. Springfieldts terrain is gently rolling with some larger hills, one of which is the setting for the Odd Fellows Home. It is served by several U.S. and State Routes including Interstate 70, U.S. 68, and Ohio 4, 41, and 72. The New York Central, Pennsylvania and Detroit, Toledo, and Ironton Railroads have serviced this community. Springfield is home to Wittenberg University (Lutheran; founded 1845) and Clark Technical College. It is here that the 4-H Club movement began. It also is home to three other care facilities; the Ohio Masonic Home, the Ohio Knights of Pythias Home for the Aged, and the Oesterlen Home (Lutheran).