Juniper Hall, Shrewsbury, Massachusetts
Juniper Hall was built by Matthew John Whitall, who manufactured carpets in nearby Worcester. He was a 33rd degree Mason. His home was built in 1912 on 100 acres of land on top of Meetinghouse Hill, the highest point in Shrewsbury. Calvin Coolidge visited in 1922 the year Mr. Whitall died. In 1927 the home was deeded to the Masons of Massachusetts. Mrs. Whitall wished it to be used for a hospital. It was used as a Masonic home from 1928 until 1975. The estate was bought by the town in 1976 and the building was razed. The property is now Prospect Park.
My great grandfather, Joseph Elmer Allen, died at the Shrewsbury Masonic Hospital in 1932. I wrote to the current Massachusetts Masonic Hospital, which is located in Charlton, for his records. They sent me a copy of his admittance card, which was about the size of a 5”x7” card. It stated that he was a 7th degree Mason and was admitted on 4 March 1932. He died on 12 March 1932 at 10:40 PM. It was a very short record because he was there such a short time. He was a member of the Joseph Webb Lodge in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
The Shrewsbury, Massachusetts Masonic Hospital
Recently my mother showed me on line some photos of the old Masonic home, and I was very impressed with the former residence. It must have been a wonderful home for the retired and sick Masons. The postcards I saw on line of Juniper Hall were beautiful, and I’m sure it was still beautiful in 1932. Perhaps by 1975 it was quite run down, because the town of Shrewsbury tore it down so quickly after acquiring the property.
The Allen Family Plot at the Spring Street Cemetery in Essex, Massachusetts
The top of the large letter A is marked with Masonic symbols, as are
the individual stones of the Allen men who were also members.
Frank Gilman Allen was the brother of my great grandfather, Joseph Elmer Allen
If your ancestors or family members were members of a Masonic lodge, the first clue might be a masonic symbol on a gravestone. The records of the Massachusetts Masons are online at the New England Historic Genealogical Society at www.americanancestors.org There you will find what lodge your ancestor belonged to, and when they were admitted as members. You can write to the lodge for more information. In Massachusetts there is also a Scottish Rite masonic library at the National Heritage Museum in Lexington, and you can see if there are any records on your family members. www.nationalheritagemuseum.org The museum often has genealogy classes, too.
For more information:
The History of Prospect Park http://www.prospectfriends.org/History.html
This webpage has photos of the Shrewsbury Masonic Home in its heyday in an article in the Shrewsbury Lantern for a talk by the Shrewsbury Historical Society about Juniper Hall, the Masonic Home and Prospect Park http://shrewsbury.net/?p=2053
An article from Community Advocate, “Shrewsbury Property Rich in History” by Sue Wambolt, contributing writer, dated 8 August 2012, http://www.communityadvocate.com/2012/08/08/shrewsbury-property-rich-in-history/
The Genealogy of Matthew John Whittall http://www.my-family-research.info/?page_id=228
Copyright 2012, Heather Wilkinson Rojo