Moosehaven Celebrating 75th

By Cravey, Beth Reese | The Florida Times Union, July 2, 1997 | Go to article overview

Moosehaven Celebrating 75th


Cravey, Beth Reese, The Florida Times Union


ORANGE PARK -- In 1921, a top official of the Loyal Order of

Moose pondered an idea that he and other leaders of the national

fraternity had been bandying about for years.

An old-age home for Moose members and their wives.

"I want it to be a place," Director General James J. Davis said

at the time, "where, if, in my old age, I, with my wife, have to

come -- I will be happy to come to it. That is the feeling every

member of this fraternity should have."

Later that year, Moose leadership voted to make the idea a

reality. And in 1922, the fraternity purchased property on the

banks of the St. Johns River in Orange Park to create

Moosehaven, according to an official history of the retirement

community.

Seventy-five years later, Moosehaven is thriving, with about

400 residents from across the country. And about 3,000 more

Moose members will be bused there Friday from a weekend

convention in Orlando for an anniversary celebration.

The event is open to the public. The schedule of activities

includes the dedication of a new $1.3 million residence hall --

the community's 12th -- and a new $1 million fitness center.

Superintendent Ross Fleet said the construction is part of a

10-year capital improvement plan that has been under way for

four years. The plan, funded by Moose membership, particularly

its state associations, also includes renovation of numerous

existing buildings on the grounds.

The facilities that housed Moosehaven when it was established

-- including the old Hotel Marion and adjacent property -- are

long since gone. But one existing structure, which houses a

Moose museum, dates back to the late 1930s and several others

were built in 1947.

Moosehaven is open to fraternity members who are at least 65

years old and have been in the organization for at least 10

years. The average age of residents is about 78, Fleet said.

Residents surrender their assets and pensions upon admission, in

exchange for being able to remain at Moosehaven for the rest of

their lives.

"It is based on need," he said. "The majority of the people

here have no funds. But we treat all the residents the same,

whether they turned over assets or not."

One of the current residents, Gloria Null, said that she

appreciated the foresight of early Moose leaders.

"This was the best move we ever made," said Null, who came to

Moosehaven more than two years ago with her husband, who died

last December. "Got rid of all the tensions, worry. It is

peaceful. . . . It is beautiful.

"I am contented," she said.

Fleet, who has managed the community for a decade and worked

there for almost 12 years, said most residents are not only

content but also very active.

They engage in a variety of regular recreational activities and

can frequently be spotted riding their threewheel bikes on the

Moosehaven grounds and surrounding areas. …

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