Friday, July 8, 2022

‘Millions for Manchester’

Happy anniversary to the Grand Lodge of New Hampshire! It was on this date in 1789 when the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of New Hampshire was organized at the William Pitt Tavern in Portsmouth.

John Sullivan
Five brethren from St. John’s Lodge in the town were present and voted for several resolutions to give their creation form. For Grand Master, they elected John Sullivan, Esq., President of the State of New Hampshire.

Commemorative token courtesy of Bro. Tim.
The Grand Lodge met again on the sixteenth of the month with additional brethren from St. Patrick’s Lodge in Portsmouth and Rising Sun Lodge in Keene present. They addressed a few jurisprudence items.

But this edition of The Magpie Mason concerns today’s needs, namely millions of dollars to restore the Manchester Masonic Temple and keep it in service, perhaps to 2089 and beyond.

The cornerstone was laid with Masonic ceremony on St. John Baptist Day 1925, but as its hundredth birthday nears, the temple shows its age and is in need of extensive modernization. I was there last month for Masonic Con; despite never having seen the place before, I recognized it intimately.

The growth of the Masonic fraternity in the United States during the 1920s was fantastic and almost incomprehensible to today’s Mason. To accommodate the tens of thousands of new brethren nationwide, our rapidly multiplying lodges acquired and developed real estate all over the place, in many instances constructing two or three-story temples of marble or limestone or granite or whatever. Buildings that could stand for centuries.

They contained multiple large lodge rooms, with murals on the walls, decorative carpeting, balcony seating, and other clues indicating a big and monied membership. A spacious banquet hall and impressive commercial kitchen. An elevator, coat room, billiard parlor, library, sitting room, and more.

In their prime, these temples silently boasted of Freemasonry’s prominence, but today those which remain standing and in Masonic custody are in “the days of trouble,” as Ecclesiastes 12 phrases old age.

The Manchester Masonic Temple’s caretakers aim to raise about $5 million to transform a faded palace of the Roaring Twenties into a proper home for today’s Masonic Order. Out with hazardous electrical wiring, and in with LEDs. Do away with century-old plumbing, and go with twenty-first century flushing. And the HVAC? They didn’t even have the AC back then, and the HV are antique curiosities.

Elevator operator station.

A heating vent beneath each seat in lodge.

With only about 4,400 Masons comprising the jurisdiction, the Grand Lodge of New Hampshire, I’m certain, would appreciate your support. Donations may be mailed to:

Manchester Masonic
Community Center
1505 Elm St.
Manchester, NH 03101

Or click here.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the brethren are seeking community block grant dollars, but every bit you contribute will get all the work done.

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