Its origins tracing back to the stonemasons of the Middle Ages and perhaps much further, Masonry came to Colonial America in the early 1700s and to Utah in 1858, with the dispatch of Johnston’s Army. Early next month, Utah’s Freemasons will hold a statewide public open house in a collaborative effort to share information about their organization—the world’s oldest fraternity—within their respective communities.
On Saturday, May 6, Masons from Logan to St. George will welcome visitors to their meeting places, referred to as lodges or temples, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Residents of Box Elder and Cache counties are encouraged to visit <a href=”https://www.facebook.com/groups/732726276820852/”>Amity Lodge No. 23</a> in Brigham City and <a href=”http://harmonylodge21.org/”>Harmony Lodge No. 21</a> in Logan.
George Winters, secretary of the Amity Lodge and former Grand Historian of the <a href=”http://www.utahgrandlodge.org/”>Utah Grand Lodge</a>, said Utah’s Freemasons host the statewide open house annually.
“What we’re doing is opening the doors up and allowing people to come in and view our buildings, answer questions that the general public may have and just let them see what we do in Lodge, basically to dispel a lot of the rumors that are out there about Masonry,” Winters said. “The questions will be answered by Freemasons with the knowledge to give them honest and truthful answers. It won’t be the kind of rhetoric you hear on the Internet. It will be first-hand knowledge right from the source.”
Winters said visitors to the Amity Lodge temple will also have the opportunity to view a collection of important Masonic artifacts. These include a red cap worn by <a href=”http://www.wasatchlodge.org/publish/james-jc-penny/”>James Cash “JC” Penney</a>, founder of the J.C. Penney Company retail chain; a hand-forged square and compass set used by Freemasons in Johnston’s Army; several strands of George Washington’s hair; and a <a href=”http://www.knightstemplar.org/KnightTemplar/articles/20100909.htm”>White House foundation stone</a> etched with historic banker’s marks.
“George Washington’s hair comes from a private collection back East, and it’s very valuable,” he said, “and I’m always impressed when I get to see these White House stones.”
The stones, he said, were discovered when the White House was renovated back in the 1950s, during President Harry Truman’s administration.
“It was a means for the stonemasons to be paid,” Winters explained. “They would cut their marks into the stone and then they would tally the marks up at the end of the day or week and their pay would be drafted from that.”
Truman, who was a Masonic Grand Master, preserved the stones and presented one to each one of the Grand Lodges across the United States. Each stone was affixed with a small brass White House plaque and accompanied by a letter from the president, framed in recycled White House wood.
“These are some pretty important artifacts,” Winters said, “and we invite everybody to come down—families if they’d like to come. No matter where you live, there is a Masonic lodge not too far away, and we encourage everybody to go in, bring your questions. We’d be happy to see everyone.”
Whichever Masonic temple they visit on May 6, guests throughout the state are invited to bring non-perishable donations to benefit the <a href=”https://www.utahfoodbank.org/”>Utah Food Bank</a>. Refreshments will be served at some locations, including the Amity and Harmony temples. Amity Lodge No. 23 is located at 305 S. 100 E. in Brigham City. Harmony Lodge No. 21, which is currently being renovated, is located at <span>118 W. 100 N. in Logan. </span>More information about the statewide open house is available at <a href=”http://www.utahgrandlodge.org/”>www.utahgrandlodge.org</a>.