Thursday, April 07, 2011

Vandalism Against Texas Masonic Temple


Brother John Wallace reports that Onion Creek Lodge No. 220 in Austin, Texas recently suffered its fourth vandalism incident in the past year and a half. Its signage has been destroyed, at least two break-in attempts were made, windows have been broken, and the American flag in the front yard was turned upside down. Most recently, at the end of March, a Molotov cocktail was hurled through a window of the dining hall. Fortunately, the bottle didn't break, and the flames did not spread, but some fire damage did occur, including to a piano. It could have been far worse.

There have also been reports of other Austin-area lodges, as well as some across Tarrant County (the Ft. Worth area) having anti-Masonic material taped to their doors.

Because of the previous repeated attacks, the Austin Fire Department installed motion activated cameras and the images are being studied to see if faces and vehicles can be identified. The arson attempt raises the acts from vandalism to a 2nd class felony.

Onion Creek Lodge is an historic building—it's the second-oldest lodge building in Texas still in use today, along with being one of the oldest public school houses in the state. It is a state-designated historic site.

Unfortunately, reports of vandalism and worse activities are increasing against Masonic lodge buildings, as Freemasonry gets greater exposure in the press. And sad to say, not everyone who comes to your open houses has angelic motives. If your lodge doesn't have bright exterior lighting and a decent alarm system, with a monitoring service and an updated contact list of your officers, you need to bring it up at your next lodge meeting.

And it never hurts to remind brethren to drive by the lodge on their way home from work, or after a night out. Too many Masonic buildings sit empty 29 days a month, which makes them an easy target for bored miscreants or devious Masonophobes.

1 comment:

Dawson (Clawson) said...

Bro Hodapp -

Thanks for bringing this issue to other Lodges. Events like these can be unsettling even when no major damage is done. Our Lodge is tucked away in a wooded pocket of a heavily populated area in South Austin. Unfortunately, it provides good cover for ill-motivated individuals.

I was speaking with another Mason from Montgomery, Tx who told me they have installed "wireless" fire alarms - when temperatures become way too hot inside, the detector immediately alerts and dispatches the local FD and saves a lot of time if the structure were to actually on fire.

If any Lodge is concerned of vandalism or fire, I would recommend safeguarding any relics or important documents in a fire safe of some kind. Losing a Lodge is one thing, but to lose important history is another matter altogether.

Thanks again, sir!

Chris Dawson
OCL#220