“In our work we want not simply to develop the beautiful, but be useful … we must throw thought and energy into [and] make its application in the needs of human life by our willingness to bear others’ burdens.”
— W.G.M., Lillian A. Wiggs, 1890
In March of 1890, the Worthy Grand Matron, Sister Lillian A. Wiggs told those in attendance at the Grand Chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star about a young mother who, on her death bed, asked the Order to take care of her two children. The Order was able to place the boy, but they were not able to find a permanent home for the daughter, nor would their bylaws allow them to release funds for her care. Sister Lillian, frustrated by the situation, presented to the gathering a challenge to somehow create a safe place for those in need. This was the beginning of the Kansas Masonic Home.
For more than 115 years, Kansas Masonic Home has proudly maintained her vigil of the city of Wichita and her residents from the corner of Seneca and Maple streets. The 15 acres of earth that comprise her campus have supported the weight of many buildings and felt the footsteps of countless men, women and children who have served or been served within her boundaries.
The original Kansas Masonic Home, a three story limestone home purchased from Col. Robert Lawrence with funds collected for more than six years by and from Kansas Masons and Order of the Eastern Star members, was opened in 1896. On September 10 of that year, more than 5,000 local spectators lined the path of a parade and procession that began downtown and culminated at the steps of the of Kansas Masonic Home, where the campus was dedicated to serving those in need. A legacy of care that has survived far beyond the lives of the original residents and founders was begun.