Orchard Manor

20 Orchard Drive, Grove City PA 16127

724-458-7760

drobinson@orchardmanor.org

History of the Odd Fellows

Often people ask “Who are the Odd Fellows and Rebekahs?” or “What does I.O.O.F. stand for?”  While members of the Order certainly know the answers to these and similar questions, perhaps it would be interesting to review some history as well as some interesting facts.

The I.O.O.F., Independent Order of Odd Fellows, is a benevolent and social organization that originated in England, and was introduced in the United States in 1819 at Baltimore, Maryland.  Thomas Wildey is known as the founder of Odd Fellowship in North America.  It was odd to find people organized for the purpose of giving aid to those in need and of pursuing projects for the benefit of all mankind, which is one explanation for the name, “Odd Fellow”.

One of the symbols of the Odd Fellows is the three links, which stand for friendship, love and truth.  The group, once also known as the, “Three Link Fraternity”, started as a laborers’ support group with members promising to “visit the sick, relieve the distressed, bury the dead and educate the orphan”.  In fact, many are not aware that there is an Odd Fellow cemetery on the east side of Orchard Manor, with markers for Odd Fellows and Rebekahs who were buried as far back as the early 1900’s.  Did you know that there was an Odd Fellow orphanage, originally built in 1872 for widows and orphans, in Meadville, PA?  It was the first fraternal orphanage in the world!  At one time, 125 children resided in the Home, however, 1973 was the last year that children lived in the orphanage.  A new building was built in 1926, and has recently been sold to Allegheny College.

Odd Fellowship became the first national fraternity to include both men and women when it adopted the “Rebekah Degree” in 1851.  Odd Fellows and Rebekahs were the first fraternal organization to establish homes for senior members and for orphaned children.  Before the days of assistance from the government, and even almshouses, church homes and county homes, the Odd Fellows and Rebekahs recognized the need for a place for their members to reside.  Orchard Manor replaced Wayside Inn, which was located on the west side of Orchard Manor.  For many years it was called, “The Pretzel Factory” by members of the local community, since the three links at the top of the front of the building, especially when lit up at night, looked like pretzels!


Wayside Inn

Wayside Inn, which had been located in the area between B-Wing and the driveway around the west side of Orchard Manor, began operation in 1901.  The Odd Fellows established the magnificent Home to take care of members of the Order, and their wives and widows, during their “sunset years”. Originally, since there were no nursing homes as we know them today, the Home was actually a self-sustaining, working farm.  Residents were referred to as “inmates” or “guests”, which was appropriate for that period in history.  Other than those Residents who were confined to the infirmary, members of the Order who lived there brought their talents to help farm, raise beef cattle and dairy cows, carry out the maintenance and handy work, etc.  The women helped with the cooking, cleaning and baking.  Most Residents turned over their assets in exchange for life-long care.

In the early 1960’s, as other nursing homes had been established throughout the State by Churches, Fraternal Organizations and by Counties, the decision was made to accommodate Paying Guests, thus allowing non-members to reside at Wayside Inn.  As time marched on, State and Federal regulations made it necessary to vacate Wayside Inn, and establish Orchard Manor.  Residents from Wayside Inn and the Rebekah Home in Pittsburgh moved into Orchard Manor in 1976.

There are still a few employees working at Orchard Manor who also had worked at Wayside Inn.  Mary Brown, CNA and Linda Garner, Receptionist, worked at the “Old Home” as many refer to Wayside Inn.  There are also many Members of the Board of Directors and Odd Fellows and Rebekahs who tell wonderful stories of the “Good Old Days”, when thousands came by horse and buggy for the Grand Opening, the annual Ox Roast Picnic and other events.

Our Conference Room near the Front Lobby is also a “Memorabilia Room.”  There are many pictures of the old farm, Wayside Inn, Members of the Order who lived there, etc.  Although at times the room is used for scheduled meetings, if you would like to peek in, just let us know!

Orchard Manor is proud to carry out the original mission of the Odd Fellows and Rebekahs. We welcome visitors and suggest that the best way to choose a Personal Care Residence or Skilled Nursing Facility is to visit and ask questions.