AUGUSTA — The fourth ground of the Augusta Masonic Constructing at 317 Water St. carried the candy scent of breakfast Saturday morning as guests and shortly-to-be Masons toured the house of Bethlehem Lodge 35 AF & AM.
These on tour through the open house marveled on the slim wood floorboards, an octagon-formed anteroom with a number of giant mirrors that opens to the Abnaki Membership — the Masonic social membership. One ground up is the primary lodge, as giant as an auditorium, the place lights within the ceiling mimic stars.
The constructing was erected by the Masons in 1894 and shared at one level by two lodges, Bethlehem and Augusta, when the membership swelled, after which they merged into one.
Now the Bethlehem Lodge, which was based in 1821, has about 173 Masons, with 20 to 40 attending the common month-to-month assembly.
At present the highest three flooring are used for capabilities by the Masons, whereas the bottom ground is occupied by business enterprises.
“Masonry is the most important and oldest fraternal group,” stated Bob Stratton, of Manchester, a previous grasp of the lodge. He stated the success is the results of a few issues, together with a ban on speaking politics and faith, and infrequently sports activities. The Bethlehem Lodge is likely one of the dry lodges, that means no alcohol is served.
Nevertheless, he and several other members identified a door within the pool desk room that, in years previous, opened to an adjoining constructing the place members might go in, have a nip and are available again to the dry facet.
Stratton talked of the origin of Freemasonry among the many stonemasons of Europe, who took care of their very own in addition to different needy individuals of their neighborhood, and stated that custom continues right now.
The Bethlehem Lodge has supplied help to the Augusta Boys & Women Membership, the Space Company on Ageing, Lithgow Public Library, the Salvation Military and plenty of different charitable teams. “We’re discovering lots of people who wish to assist individuals, stated Edward “Fluffy” Libby, who's to take up the reins as lodge grasp in January 2018.
Amongst these is Jonathan Pare, of Sidney, who's becoming a member of the lodge this week. “I like serving to individuals in want.” Pare stated, simply earlier than accompanying his spouse, Michelle, and granddaughter Mikayla Dalbeck on a tour.
That they had been there for breakfast as effectively. “It was the very best and largest breakfast,” stated Mikayla, 14.
Whereas lodge membership is restricted to males, each ladies and men can be a part of the Order of the Jap Star, and there are organizations for youth members as effectively.
An annual open house is inspired by the Grand Lodge of Maine, and in a single room, an “Ask a Mason” video was working.
As in different Masonic Lodges, the primary lodge room is oriented east-west to resemble King Solomon’s temple. Together with the lit stars within the blue-painted ceiling, a trio of chairs stands at each ends and a Bible is on a stand in the midst of the room. Nevertheless, that could possibly be changed by a Koran or a Torah, relying on the ebook most popular, whereas the Lodge businesss is performed.
“We’re not a non secular group, however you do need to have a consider in a better entity,” Stratton stated. He stated the Masons provide “ethical and moral classes about the way you deal with different prople” in addition to offering for individuals in want.
There are symbols in every single place, within the geometric association within the plush rug and the mosaic tile ground.
Organized across the wall are chairs and benches with blue velvet cushions.
Being a Mason permits members to go to different lodges as effectively. Stratton has been to a lodge in Colorado. Sean Collyer, of Augusta, went to at least one in Arizona.
Stratton stated there are about 20,000 Masons in Maine, and the mainemason.org web site exhibits the lodges divided into 24 districts. Bethlehem Lodge 35 is one among 10 lodges in District 11.
Steve Mairs wore the Masonic regalia, whereas the opposite members, embody Ken Gotreau, lodge grasp, have been in collared, informal shirts to assist on the breakfast and elsewhere. For diploma work — which is how individuals turn out to be new members — the members put on tuxedos. Gotreau, of Sidney, belongs to each the Sidney and Augustas lodges.
Within the Abnaki Membership on Saturday, visitor Roger Madore ran a slideshow of historic postcards of Augusta, lots of them featured in his ebook, “Augusta (Postcard Historical past Collection).”
As individuals collaborating within the 14th annual MaineGeneral Well being Stroll for Hope handed by Saturday morning, Libby and Cal Yeaton, of Winthrop, stood exterior, trying on the constructing signal that Yeaton had simply renovated. “This was one of the fashionable buildings in 1894,” Libby stated, “It had whole fuel lighting.”
The Renaissance-model brick constructing was listed on the Nationwide Register of Historic Locations in 1986.
Now it has an elevator and a sprinkler system, put in in more moderen years. The constructing has a brand new roof as effectively.
“We attempt to do common upkeep,” Stratton stated.
Betty Adams — 621-5631