Celebrating the Centennial of Masonic Homes of California
Original Watercolor by Nancy Pratt
Both Masonic Homes of California, at Union City and Covina, are showcased in this beautiful watercolor montage using an early Italian architectural style. The five arches and columns of the old and new entrance to the Union City Home provide the perfect design for the painting to give the viewer glimpses of indoor and outdoor scenes of the Victorian treasure. The flowered borders show off the flora and fauna around the home, including gladiolas from surrounding hillsides, roses, deer, the California State flower, the Golden Poppy and the California State bird, the Valley Quail.
Completed in 1898, the Home at Union City was called the Masonic Widows and Orphans Home in the old town of Decoto. The care for the residents was provided in Sacramento up to this time. Forty-one Masons, widows, and orphans were admitted during the first year. Their new home occupied 268 acres, purchased in 1893 for $33,093. The site was selected with great foresight for its easy access to San Francisco and nearby rail transportation to Oakland and San Jose. There was a self-sustaining water and power supply on the property and fertile land for farming, producing ample crops to take to the markets of San Francisco. The residents helped with farming, ranching, cooking and preserving to make their home self-sufficient.
Donations and support came from all 251 Lodges of that year to beautify the grounds. The local Lodge in Centerville, now the Centerville district of Fremont,
|Alameda Lodge No. 167, planted 10 acres of fruit trees and cultivated them the first year. They also built the Memorial Arch at the entrance to the grounds as well as planting the date palms. In 1912 the ladies of the Eastern Star initiated Jam and Jelly Day, to help provide for the needs of the Home. At first by preserving the fruit that was grown at the Home, and today by a picnic and donations by the East Bay Past Matrons Association, Order of Eastern Star.
After 100 years, residents of the home in Union City still enjoy the fresh balmy air from the surrounding bay waters and delight in observing deer coming down from the hills in the evening. Today the lower fields on both sides of the security gates are leased to a commercial flower grower and the upper hills are leased for cattle grazing.
The original building is now the Main Administrative Building. The focal point of the lobby is the main staircase with the magnificent stained glass window at the head, donated by the Ladies Club, Golden Gate Commandery No. 16. The lobby has a parlor filled with many beautiful antiques. A wonderful library is down the hall with pictures on the wall of former United States Presidents who were Masons.
The South Antique Room, (right center of painting) boasts oriental furniture, donated by a resident who was a distant relative of General Douglas MacArthur. Shown in the painting is General MacArthurs desk and chair. Also shown is a chair from the Siminoff Temple originally erected in 1903 and reconstructed in 1989.
The North and South wings of the Administrative Building was added in 1914 and 1928 respectively. There are 10 buildings altogether on the site. Assisted Living Residences are in the Adams and Wollenberg Buildings Apartments. The Lorber building is for Skilled Nursing care. The newest addition to the Home is the Grider Health Care Center, which provides
|physical therapy, occupational and speech therapy and an exercise center. Included in this state of the art building is a large hydro-therapy pool and a Jacuzzi pool for the residents use.
The Masonic Home at Covina originated out of the 1905 Masonic Widows and Orphans Home in the Old San Gabriel Hotel. The hotel housed up to 150 people. By 1909 the San Gabriel Home became a residence exclusively for children. The adults were transferred to the Decota Home and the children were brought to San Gabriel. The orphans of San Gabriel had a good life until 1915 when storm waters washed a path through the grounds and the property was determined to be unstable. A tract of 35 acres was purchased two miles east of the City of Covina and a temporary building was erected until permanent quarters were established. In 1989 a lovely new complex for the addition of adults to the Home in Covina was opened. The Masonic Home at Covina now provides care to both children and adults on the same campus.
Today with the beautiful and serene setting of the Home at Covina, and the stately grandeur of the Masonic Home at Union City, Masons can be exceedingly proud of the contributions they have given to build and support these two Masonic Homes. They are a tribue to the Masons who have given and continue to give their help and support for the betterment of their fellow man.
The Home has a professional, caring staff to provide for all health care, social needs and recreational activities. There is an Arts and Crafts Center and a wonderful Ceramics Department. Beautician services are offerred for both men and women to take care of their grooming needs. Two chaplains provide counseling for the residents as well as studies and learning. Non-denominational services are held in the lovely chapel in Siminoff Center.