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Monday, August 22, 2016

Winslow, AZ Lodge Is Rising From the Ashes

On the night of October 10, 2014, three young men strategically set several fires around the historic temple building of Winslow Lodge No. 13  in Winslow, Arizona. The lodge was not their only target - they also torched two other historic buildings in the area. No one was hurt in the resulting blazes, but as of a result of their acts, the lodge's 1920s building was severely damaged, their original antique furniture lost, along with irreplaceable documents, paraphernalia, regalia, and so much more from their 120 year history.

As events unfolded, police located and arrested three suspects, Chad Lapointe, 20, Erik Nelson, 20, and Steven Gonzales, 18, all Winslow residents.  Early reports indicated that the men set the fires, "simply out of boredom."

The Arizona Journal reported five days later:

Ken Evans, Senior Steward of Winslow Masonic Lodge No. 13, noted that the lodge is nearly a total loss and said a conservative estimate would be that actual damages will run about $3.5 million, but many of the items lost had a value beyond monetary. The building was the third location for the Winslow Masons, who first formed the lodge in 1896 and gathered at the Palace Hotel, then in the upstairs rooms of the Elks Lodge before building their own lodge in 1923. The lodge contained valuable antiques built by the M.C. Lilly & Company, which at the time cost $1,200. “These were very ornate Masonic furnishings with Middle East designs and Masonic symbolism referencing King Solomon’s Temple from the 1896 World Fair. We lost an altar, two pillars and three chairs, as well as a wood and marble station. We also lost our regalia from the 1800s, as well as the regalia from the Order of the Eastern Star and Commandery of Knights Templar,” stated Evans.
“The Joseph City, Holbrook and Winslow fire departments all worked together like a fabulous machine, and helped to protect the neighborhoods and prevent the fires from spreading. While doing that they managed to save our archives and records from the first floor, and pulled photos from the walls, as well as an entire display of first edition Bibles. These items were wet, but they were able to keep them from being super soaked,” added Evans, who works at Homolovi State Park, where he utilized an emergency freezer so that the documents could be frozen before developing mold. Despite the massive loss, Evans was positive that the lodge will be rebuilt and that the programs conducted by the lodge will continue uninterrupted.

I have no idea how I missed reporting this story almost two years ago, but I did. 

In an ironic return to their own history, the nearby Winslow Elks Lodge graciously provided a temporary new home for not only the displaced Winslow Lodge No. 13, but their York Rite and Eastern Star bodies as well, in their own beautiful building.


Rebuilding Winslow Lodge

True to their word, the brethren of Winslow Lodge indeed got to work rebuilding their temple. As word spread throughout the country, Masons everywhere offered donations of money, aprons, furnishings, and other necessary items to the lodge as well as the York Rite.

I received a message this morning from Brother Edward G. McKeowan who attended a degree in Flagstaff over the weekend reporting that Winslow Lodge has slowly risen from the ashes. I searched the Facebook page for the lodge and saw this photo of construction on July 6th of this year, so they obviously still have a way to go yet.


As for the three arsonists, while stories abound online announcing their rapid apprehension and detention immediately after the fires, there is no public record I can find of their ultimate sentencing.


2 comments:

  1. Man, that sucks. Thankfully, our fraternity teaches us that buildings aren't important, so hopefully they can get through this okay.

    Jeff Stallard
    PM, Neoacacia #595

    ReplyDelete
  2. I am glad to see brothers rebuilding. I know our brothers down in Louisiana are needing help, and several are going to help.

    ReplyDelete

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