Home > Architecture, Buildings, freemason, Freemasonry > Where is your lodge?

Where is your lodge?

January 15, 2015 Leave a comment Go to comments

I have mixed feelings whenever Gloomy Gus Chris Hodapp writes “another building lost” post – which, to be fair, almost seems to be every other month.

On one hand, it’s always sad to see a nice older Masonic Temples — or any well designed and decorated building, for that matter — falling into disrepair because the upkeep is too expensive for the membership. The period from the early to mid 1900s that saw so many fine temples erected didn’t have the expensive issues of heating and air conditioning costs, specialized maintenance, accessibility upgrades, or power needs that we now think of as essential, and even just maintaining those buildings, let alone improving them, is a huge drain on the resources of the members.

On the other hand, how much of a drain on our membership does it take before we all will figure out a new model? Lowe's Lodge & Community Center in Meriden, CT

The late 1800s to early 1900s saw a different model: have a large building in which several different lodges could meet on different nights, so it wouldn’t sit unused. All the different lodges would pay a little rent to the building association (and this raises the question if Masons “invented” the co-op), and the steady influx of members would assure that the capital reserve funds would be adequate to repair the boiler or to shovel more ice onto the roof, whitewash the picket fence, or do whatever the heck was normal repairs back in those days. And I’m sure that many of the brothers at the time were proud to belong to a lodge that emulated – to some degree – the Temple of King Solomon. Many of the older buildings were richly appointed, and had massive columns, arches, and other fine details.So, yes, it’s disappointing to see those old temples fading, or being sold off so that they can be turned into office condos or meeting centers. As the membership declined, there was simply no way to keep them forever.

But on another level, maybe we need to ask ourselves: is a lodge the building or the members?

Back in the 1700s to 1800s, when many lodges were essentially a few dozen guys meeting in a pub, they probably didn’t worry about that kind of thing; if the pub closed, they found another one. Having  a building was a bit extravagant for guys who might only meet once a week, and certainly ridiculous for a group that would only meet once a month. Some found a home, literally, in the older home donated or sold off from a member’s estate. New England is full of lodges that meet in these small buildings, and almost every other town seemed to have one during the boom years. But even that becomes expensive as turn or the century houses need to be upgraded with better electric and plumbing service, new stairs, fire exits, better insulation, and other upgrades to make them more accessible for our older members.

Nick Johnson recently posed the idea of a “dinner lodge,” a return to the older days when brothers met to discuss some bit of education, and enjoy some friendly association. Maybe the next few decades will see more large temples being sold off, but — hopefully — more active members meeting to enjoy fellowship, without worrying about fixing the potholes, repairing the roof, or wondering how they are going to pay for the upkeep on a mausoleum that only gets used once a week by a dozen guys.

After all, is your lodge the building, or is it the members?

Edit: I should have mentioned Connecticut’s own take on this: both Quinta Essentia Lodge No. 500, and Hospitality Lodge No. 128.

  1. January 15, 2015 at 11:49 am

    Nice post, Tom. When I visited Alberta, Canada and visited Hinton Lodge in the small town of Hinton, they met at the local motel. The motel let them keep the Lodge furniture in a storage room. Most of the furniture was on wheels, so it just a matter of rolling it out. The Lodge rented a large Conference Room for $50 per night. It was carpeted, heated and well furnished. Many Communications the Lodge members met prior to meeting at the Motel restaurant for dinner. After the meeting the Lodge rolled out a bar on wheels for the Festive Board. The Lodge helped the motel by their patronage and the motel helped the Lodge with modern facilities at a reasonable price. It was a win-win situation.

    Liked by 1 person

    • January 15, 2015 at 11:56 am

      Any brothers who were in a band know the drill about humping along the equipment. It would get old after a while, but at least if you could have nearby storage it would keep the setup to an easy level.

      And look – if they meet twice a month, that’s $100 times 10 months (typical in New England), it’s only 1,000. if they could get two dozen members, that’s less than 50 for dues.


      • October 23, 2015 at 1:24 pm

        “if they could get two dozen members, that’s less than 50 for dues.” ~Tom

        …plus GL taxes, but your point is valid. I am urging Lodges dragging a costly ball & chain behind them to find places to rent-even other Lodges.

        If they can rent, I was then asked, “What will do with all our STUFF?”. Simple.

        DONATE IT. Adopt a Lodge somewhere in the world, and give it to someone who will cherish & use it. On my Masonic Research & Discussion group, we hear from Lodges meeting in the dirt, struggling to better their fellow men with Masonry. And here we are, sitting on a pile of rusting, rotting antiques that do nobody any good. Are your paintings your lodge? How about that nice chair in the attic that has been there so long nobody remembers how or why it is even there?

        You can always get new crap-they make more every day.


        Liked by 1 person

  2. October 23, 2015 at 9:34 am

    Hi Duncan, thanks for the faebdeck. We have updated our database and will be continuing with the monthly progress reports going forward. Our next one will be in a couple of weeks so stay tuned. Thank you!


  3. October 23, 2015 at 1:18 pm

    Today in a CT jurisdiction, there is a real struggle to determine just exactly what a Lodge is. The lodge building is about to fail financially due to taxes, and the Brothers are uncertain about the future, and too proud to seek the assistance they desperately need.

    In talking with the WM, I suggested he have a Brother make a motion to make a choice. Either arrange to meet somewhere else (lots of Lodges in stone’s throw), or surrender the charter. Simple.

    The problem seems simple, except that there are those in the old guard who will not, under any circumstances, have any dealings with the other jurisdiction for anything. So your question, Tom, hints at the issue of selfish pride. It is not for what is needed for the generations today and to come, but to use any situation to ‘pay back’ a debt nobody remembers or understands but them.

    This death grip on the past is the most visible manifestation of the dividing line between old and new guards. The old live in a fantasy of the past, reliving their version of history and damning anyone who challenges that fantasy. The new live in a Masonry held back from being what they need by foolish, selfish pride. And since most Lodges will courteously defer to the elders purely out of respect, preventing anything from moving forward until the old guard approves is stifling. They exercise their unspoken, unwritten veto whenever anything different comes along.

    You can see selfish pride every time a dissenting Brother, wildly outnumbered, insists only they know what is right for everyone else. It is as if they don’t, or won’t, realize that the votes against their own personal vision of Masonry are from everyone else.

    So no wonder a new Brother would feel that with the politics of the 2013-14 Grand Line, and politics at their own Lodge level, that the Craft is ruled by ‘office politics’. They have even seen Lodges born from it. The changing of this old guard is far more significant to the future of our Lodges than to ourselves.

    Take a look once in a while at what you/we look like to the outside. Look at your actions these past 2 years and ask yourself if your actions have helped or hurt the Fraternity. Have you acted with selfish pride, or for the betterment of the Fraternity-not just in the short term for your own petty political goals, but in the long term-to ensure we don’t scare off every good piece of timber/stone that darkens a Lodge’s door?

    If the majority of the Craft voted against you, the answer should be obvious.

    I would gladly meet in a hole in the road in the pouring rain with good Brothers before i stepped foot in a pure, stately mansion of selfish fools.

    Liked by 1 person

  1. January 22, 2015 at 8:51 am
  2. February 3, 2015 at 7:54 am
  3. March 12, 2015 at 9:57 am

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