The brethren of Gainesville Lodge No. 41, in Gainesville, Florida got some decent coverage in the local paper today.
Have a look at Masons offer a look inside by Patrick Annesty.
The average age of members at the downtown Gainesville lodge 20 years ago was 70, said [WM Ray M.Davis Jr]. Today, it's around 50.
"A lot of University of Florida students are joining," said Tony Spitaleri, the presiding officer of the Waldo Masonic lodge, who is also a member of Lodge No. 41.
He estimates that more than 10 UF students are now members. "They go to other communities and transfer to other lodges, but they join and are raised here," Spitaleri said.
"You take a person coming in, and they are real rough, like a quarry stone," Davis said. "You chip, polish, scrape, and pretty soon it becomes a beautiful piece of stone for a building. But we work on the building within (oneself)."
These are principles of historic stonemasons that shape the modern Mason outlook, or "speculative masonry," Davis said.
"We don't use brick and mortar to build, but we use the principles of them because that's what makes a strong house," Davis said. These same principles are used to build a strong community, he said.
As far as the secretive nature of the organization, there's an explanation for that, too.
Spitaleri said that like college fraternities, secrets are used to ensure the authenticity of those who claim to be members.
"Secrets are one way to make sure people are not lying to you," he said. "There's ways of asking people questions that if they can't answer them properly, you know they are not a member."
Davis said the origins of Masonry trace to King Solomon's Temple in about 600 B.C., though the sect was not officially recognized until 1717, when the Catholic church ended its persecution of Masons.
The Gainesville lodge was chartered in 1857, and the cornerstone for the current building was laid in 1908. Local Masons also laid the cornerstone for the University Auditorium in 1922. During World War II, the lodge opened its doors to house servicemen.