Monday , 22 January 2018
Cornerstone ceremony marks completion of $6.5-million Nebraska Masonic Home project

Cornerstone ceremony marks completion of $6.5-million Nebraska Masonic Home project

The county fair ended Saturday, but there was still much to celebrate on Sunday in Plattsmouth with a special ceremony marking the completion of Nebraska Masonic Home’s (NMH) latest renovation and expansion project.


NMH is a Tudor Gothic structure located at 1300 Ave. D in Plattsmouth. It is a retirement facility for Freemasons and their eligible female relatives. Its history in Plattsmouth dates back to June 5, 1903, when Francis White, owner of a Plattsmouth mansion, decided to move to Omaha. He sold his property to NMH, which officially opened Sept. 1, 1903. An additional wing was completed in 1924. Two four-story wings were added in 1952, followed by the 100-bed Spencer Wing that opened in 1989. An Alzheimer’s Care Unit opened in 2000.

The new $6.5-million construction project, which began in 2011, included the complete renovation of the 1924 Wing, resulting in the creation of nine apartments as well as building a new three-story addition to expand activity and dining space.

“The total renovation of the 1924 Wing resulted in nine spacious apartments that will provide our current and future residents with more square footage and will increase our competitive edge in the independent living market,” said Mary C. Stapp, NMH’s executive director.Much to her surprise, the cornerstone ceremony ended with NMH’s Board of Directors president John McHenry announcing the new wing would be named the Mary C. Stapp Wing. Stapp has been employed by NMH for 40 years.

“Mary has devoted her life to the Nebraska Masonic Home and in many ways she has contributed greatly to the success of The Home and assisted us in fulfilling its mission. The designation is well deserved in recognition of her 40 tireless years of work on behalf of the board and the residents of The Home,” McHenry said.

Holding back tears, Stapp thanked everyone for the designation. “What an incredible honor. It should be named the Employees’ Wing, because they all work so hard,” she said. Because of the grand scale of the project, its completion was recognized with the performance of a cornerstone ceremony, all in keeping with Freemason guidelines.

Grand Lodge of Nebraska A.F. & A.M. officers performed the ceremony, which is highly symbolic of the Freemason missions and goals, and involves precise language and actions. Following the posting of the flags and tribute to the flag, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Nebraska A.F. & A.M. Thomas L. Hauder guided the ceremony in front of NMH residents and staff and many guests. He called for officers to examine the cornerstone with a square, plumb and level to insure its symbolic compliance with the organization’s moral code.

The moral code Freemasons believe requires a man has a responsibility to “behave honorably in everything he does. Freemasonry teaches its members the principles of personal decency and personal responsibility. It hopes to inspire them to have charity and good will toward all mankind, and to translate principles and convictions into action,” according to information about the Masons.

Once the cornerstone was checked for maintaining high craftsmanship standards, Hauder declared it to be laid.

“I, as Worshipful Master of the Grand Lodge, hereby declare this cornerstone to be duly laid, square, level and plumb, and may the Grand Architect of Heaven and Earth, bless the work here begun, and crown this splendid edifice with every success,” Hauder said.m

A triad of corn, wine and oil were also applied to the cornerstone as a tribute for blessings received.

“May corn, wine and oil, and all the necessities of life abound among men throughout the world, and may the blessings of the Supreme Architect be upon this undertaking, a memorial statue to Master Masons past, present and future here to be erected and dedicated,” Hauder said.

The ceremony ended with a prayer and the flags were retired. Residents and guests were invited into the new wing for refreshments specially prepared by NMH dietary staff. “The most important reason for undertaking a project of this magnitude has been accomplished,” Stapp said. “Maintaining every resident’s dignity has always been our primary concern and goal. Adding additional space for dining and activities for our residents is a definite plus. The residents are thoroughly enjoying a dignified environment for their meals as well as beautiful and spacious areas for their many activities.” Many of the residents agreed.

“I love the dining room,” said Dorothy Speck, NMH resident. “I have the best table in the room because I can look outside onto the beautiful courtyard and see all the flowers and trees.”

(source: Patti Jo Peterson Managing editor,