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Freemasonry Watch

Struggling New Hampshire Masonic Home to close

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New Hampshire Union Leader

Struggling Masonic Home to close

Monday, May. 18, 2009

Union Leader

MANCHESTER – The Masonic Home will be closing, 105 years after admitting its first resident, the economy having eroded its once large endowment, administrators announced.

"We lost a huge sum of money out of our portfolio in a very short time," said John C. Marden, grand secretary of the Grand Lodge of New Hampshire, which maintains the home.

Despite the state’s aging population, the licensed 52-bed assisted-living facility on Beech Street in Manchester has struggled over the years to meet capacity.

The Masonic Home once carried a long waiting list. The past couple of decades, however, the "guest" numbers dwindled to about 50 percent.

Irene M. Biron, administrator at the Masonic Home, said the institution has 20 guests.

She works with a staff of about 35 employees, who were notified Thursday of the Masons’ board of trustees decision to close. Letters were mailed yesterday to every Mason in the state.

There is no closing date. Marden said they would work with residents and their families to place them in another facility.

Marden declined to discuss the endowment level, and its recent hit. He said it costs $1.5 million to $1.75 million a year to run the Masonic Home.

Masons or their spouses or widows make up a fraction of the guests. They accept anyone, provided they meet set eligibility, which includes people be at least 60 years old.

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