Masonic Home for Widows and Orphans

A refuge in East Nashville

Home for small children, also a tuberculosis hospital.

Located on 617 Ben Allen Road in East Nashville, the building was originally designed by the Nashville architectural firm known as Asmus & Norman. The home was designed to offer refuge to Masonic widows and their children. The cost of construction of this housing building was $30,000.00. In 1892, this home, located on 220 acres outside of Nashville, was completed and opened for habitation. During this time, the open land just outside the city would be seen as a perfect area for the refuge and solace of battered widows and orphans. Five years later, the Grand Lodge of Masons assumed ownership and control of the Home.

In 1913, the building was named "The Old Masons' Home." The Old Masons’ Home served as a small school for orphaned boys opening in 1915. The home continued to operate with a capacity of 400 residents until the early 1930's when applicants were given a choice of entering the home or remaining in their own area and receiving financial aid. Most chose to receive financial aid and remain in their own area, leading to Home’s closure in the 1940s.

The State of Tennessee purchased the site and it became a tuberculosis hospital in 1941. Its wide open spaces and large acreage provided an excellent space for the tuberculosis crisis during this time. This type of country setting, with its spacious land, was thought to aid the ailments of tuberculosis. During its time as a tuberculosis hospital, Vanderbilt University required all its residents interested in general surgery to do a “tour of duty” at the site, often for several days at a time. After the decline in tuberculosis in the 1970’s, the building was converted to offices for various state departments and finally abandoned in 1990. The home is constantly under threat of demolition. According to the Nashville Historic Commission, the home has been added to what is commonly known as “The Nashville 9,” nine different “at-risk” historical buildings in Nashville.