Elmhurst Thrives With Endowment Funding

The Historic Elmhurst mansion, former home to Hoosier dignitaries Oliver H. Smith, Caleb Blood Smith and Samuel Parker and now currently home to the Connersville Masonic Lodge, looks just about as immaculate today as it did when it was built almost 200 years ago in 1831.

Part of the reason for its current look can be attributed to Connersville Mason Portor Gorton and his wife, Alta, who in March 1995 decided to begin an endowment with the Fayette County Foundation which has, for more than two decades, help keep one of Fayette County’s beloved buildings in pristine condition.

FCF recently awarded $19,295.13 to the Mason Temple Corporation to go toward the upkeep of the historic mansion, during its endowment grant award cycle, with those funds coming from the long-running endowment started by Gorton and his wife.

That endowment started off with a bang, according to FCF Executive Director Anna Dungan.

“The Gorton’s gave a gift of $100,000 and encouraged (Masonic) members to contribute to a new endowment with the Foundation,” she said. “In addition to members’ gifts, the Mason Temple Corporation gave $100,000.”

And the endowment has grown ever since, almost guaranteeing Elmhurst will be preserved for years to come.

Throughout the next two decades the endowment has continued to grow from memorial contributions and annual membership gifts,” Dungan commented. “This year the endowment granted the Mason Temple Corporation $19,295.13.”

 With that grant from the endowment, the Mason Temple Corporation will put it to use in maintaining Historic Elmhurst, as it has since the organization located its lodge at Elmhurst in 1940.

“The annual budget to maintain the 186-year-old landmark is roughly $35,000,” according to Dungan.

Indeed, it’s not easy keeping up with such a large property and mansion, formerly known as the “Old Elm Farm,” – which has not only been home to Hoosier dignitaries but has a long history including being a stop on the Underground Railroad, a military institute, a sanatorium and a girls’ school – but, due to the generosity of the Gortons’ and other Masons, and the FCF’s endowment, it is able to be done and still able, to this day, bring joy to those who tour it, attend its Mason fish frys, the various father-daughter dances or the many weddings there.