Friday, December 21, 2007

Marion, Indiana Masons Keep and Improve Their Temple


The Grand County Chronicle-Tribune reports that the Masons of Samaritan Lodge No. 105 are not selling their building in Marion, Indiana. They are staying and refurbishing it.

"This building was built for the Masonic lodge, and we just wanted to keep it this way," said Shane Gibson, the new incoming Master of Samaritan Lodge No,.105 of Free and Accepted Masons.

The 1912 building will require $120,000 in exterior renovation of its limestone exterior, and another $100,000 in interior and mechanical work, including a new boiler, electrical and plaster repairs.

Samaritan Lodge's 100 year anniversary will be in 2012, and the brethren are determined that their building will last well into the future as an historic part of the community. They have bucked the trend that so many lodges have fallen victim to, of shrugging off what they momentarily regard as a white elephant and fleeing their historic temples for a metal pole barn in a corn field.

No, Freemasonry is not about buildings, and Freemasons can meet in hotel conference rooms, church basements, caves, living rooms and even a brand spankin' new steel shed. But our forefathers built these temples for us, as a symbol of their pride in the fraternity. They made sure they were the best that could be constructed. All they expected was for us to maintain them, and in so many cases, we've let them down. Temples that were built and paid for 90 years ago as symbols of beauty and of our pride in ourselves as Masons get sold every day by brethren who have no vision, or who had no alternative because the last three generations failed to plan financially for the future. Cheap dues, no foundations, no investments, no comprehensive planning – all have led to this sad moment in our history, as so many lodges murder their own posterity. What would the men who built these temples say to us today?

That's why the brethren of Marion have much to be proud of. They are investing in their future by preserving their heritage. It is a sentiment that is growing among new, younger, excited Masons, who are unfortunately in a race with those who, sadly, want to be rid of these buildings as fast as they can be thrown away. Sometimes, like a troubled marriage, staying is the hardest thing you can do. It takes more work.

By contrast, the Masons of Grand Island, Nebraska now have little more than a trinket to remember their 1925 Temple by. And then there is this pathetic story from Elgin, Illinois.

1 comment:

Bill said...

Chris,

I am passing through Nebraska on the way to a vacation in South Dakota with my family and we decided to stop in Grand Island tonight. I came across the beautiful Masonic Temple building on North Locust Street and took some pictures of it. It is a very impressive building, even more so when you consider the size of Grand Island. There was a faded note in the doorway indicating when the lodge met. I took some pictures and wanted to see what I could find out about the lodge on the internet. I was greatly saddened when I saw your web page indicating that Free Masons no longer own the building. Ashlar lodge now meets in a building in the nearby city of Chapman.
As you said there is more to Free Masonry than the buildings but while I live in Webster Groves (suburb of St. Louis) trying to preserve the Masonic Temple in St. Louis was one of the key initial factors that interested me in Free Masonry. Hopefully we will be able to preserve the portions of our heritage that are left so that we and our posterity will benefit from them.

William A. Bean
Junior Warden
Napthli Lodge # 25, St. Louis, Mo.