The Hiram Masonic Lodge, located at 313 Fisher Drive in Clinton, held a pancake and sausage breakfast from 7 to 10 a.m., Saturday, Dec. 8 prior to the annual Christmas parade in order to raise funds to support the Masonic Home for Children. Mike Bass, a spokesman for the lodge, shared that a total of 436 plates were served and the membership was very pleased with the support they received.
The Masonic Home for Children, formerly known as Oxford Orphanage, began when the statewide organizations of Masons, the Grand Lodge of North Carolina, passed a resolution in 1847 indicating that a seminary of learning should be created to educate children, whether poor or rich, whether orphan or not. The committee assigned to create the school proposed that astronomy, natural philosophy, chemistry, geology, electricity, mechanics, various processes of manufacture, metallurgy, natural history and engineering should be taught. The Masons wanted the students at their school to have as good an eduction as could be attained anywhere in the nation. On June 24, 1855, the anniversary of the birth of St. John the Baptist, the cornerstone of St. John’s College was laid. The building was completed in December 1857 and opened on July 13, 1858. From the outset the school was unsuccessful. The campus was offered to the state for use as a military school, but, during the war years, served only to house squatters or war refugees.
John H. Mills, who became the first superintendent, and was also the founder of the Baptist Orphanage of North Carolina, suggested in December 1872 that the school should be turned into an orphanage. Trustees accepted his proposal and the former St. John’s College became the first permanent orphanage in North Carolina. Mills moved onto campus and remained in the post until 1884. In February 1873 the first orphans, Robert L. and Nancy Parrish and Isabelle Robertson, took up residence. In the first year of operation, the orphanage welcomed 136 children. Then name of the institution was changed in 1923 to Oxford Orphanage and, in 1994, to the Masonic Home for Children. In 2000 the home launched an ambitious campaign to attain state licensing, improve and expand services, and construct a set of new, handicapped-accessible one-story cottages.
There are currently 48 residents in the care of MHCO — 39 of whom are in residential care and nine independent living. Eight of the independent living participants are enrolled in Vance-Granville Community College and one is continuing his studies at North Carolina A&T University. With the current level of staffing, the home can accommodate 65 residential children and 16 in independent living.
Children who are orphans or in troubled homes and in need of a loving and safe environment should be referred to the Masonic Home for Children to be considered for admission.
The Mason Home for Children is supported by charitable donations from Masons and donations and bequest from the general public. The home is located on a beautiful campus at 600 College St. in Oxford. Visitors are always welcome to come for a tour.