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By Brooke Constance White, Westerly Sun staff writer

Mystic, CT (August 2, 2016)... In a traditional, time-honored ceremony, the Ancient Free & Accepted Masons of Connecticut dedicated the cornerstone of the Masonicare independent- and assisted-living facility on Clara Drive Tuesday.

The new center, which sits on 18 acres, will have 81 units of independent living, 50 units of assisted living and 48 in the memory-care facility once it is fully operational. Masonicare officials said the company hopes to have the $32 million facility up and running sometime this fall. About 50 units are already spoken for. The 250,000-square-foot facility will have amenities such as a bistro, several dining rooms, a fitness center, a pool, walking trails and shops.

During the dedication, members of the fraternal organization were dressed in full regalia and performed the ceremonial testing of the building’s cornerstone to make sure it was level, plumb and square. After the brothers each tested the stone, they poured corn, oil and wine beside the cornerstone to represent the prosperity, peace and plenty that will fill the facility. The brothers then prayed over the facility and dedicated it, wishing blessings, health and success on it.

The Rev. Carl Anderson, vice president for mission effectiveness, said the ceremony is of great significance and celebrates the long heritage of the Masons.

"Most notably (in the Masonic tradition) is the cornerstone dedication that took place with George Washington at the Capitol building," he said. "But the tradition goes back even further to King Solomon’s temple. The Masons are a part of the very fabric of our country."

Despite facing legal challenges with the project’s first general contractor, Chief Operating Officer Jon-Paul Venoit said that C.E. Floyd, the second general contractor now working on the project, is working hard to complete the building as soon as possible.

The independent living portion will be open first this fall, and the assisted-living and memory-care portions will open shortly after.

"Our desire to serve the community here is immense," he said. "Being here will allow us to grow our presence in the state and within our mission. The community and town staff have been extremely supportive and made it clear that what we’re doing complements the town well."

The facility will employ about 150 people once open, Hilda Sager, executive director for residential services, said.

"This is a great addition to the continuum of care and senior living in Stonington," she said. "It’ll be a great part of the community."

Masonicare has facilities in Wallingford and Newtown. The Mystic property is the first in eastern Connecticut.

Masonicare has a home health office located in East Lyme, but it will move to Mystic once the new facility is completed.

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