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Thursday, December 18, 2014

End of An Era At Indiana Freemasons Hall

My friend and brother, WB James Dillman served ten years on the board of Indiana Freemasons Hall in Indianapolis, and eight of them as president. During his tenure, he oversaw an incredible array of improvements to the building. Last night was his final meeting, as a new president was elected and Jim leaves the board. From his farewell address today:

 I am proud of the many improvements that have been made to Indiana Freemasons’ Hall in the last eight years. All totaled, they amounted to nearly $1,000,000. The parking lot and south entrance were demolished and reconstructed and a handicap ramp was installed. We have two new gas boilers, a new condensate system, new pre-heat and reheat coils, and numerous energy-saving measures were made to the air and steam handling system. We have new windows throughout the building and extensive repairs have been made to the roof. The second floor kitchen has been completely remodeled and new appliances, including a commercial dishwasher, were purchased. The building has been completely re-plumbed from the basement to the third floor. New electrical boxes have been installed on seven of the eight floors and much additional electrical work completed. LED lighting was added to the exterior of the building. Several other areas have been painted and re-carpeted. Fulltime private security was added with the assistance of the Indiana Masonic Home Foundation and Grand Lodge of Indiana. A new welcome desk greatly improved the appearance of our beautiful marble lobby. In addition, the Indiana Masonic Home Foundation and Grand Lodge of Indiana demonstrated their belief in the future of the building as both of their offices underwent extensive remodeling that required significant investments. In 2009, the monumental task of moving the Masonic Library and Museum of Indiana from Franklin to Indiana Freemasons’ Hall was accomplished. Through much hard work on the part of Director Mike Brumback, PGM, and the Library/Museum Board of Directors, we have a beautiful new library and museum that is attracting many visitors to the building from all over the world. Many of these visitors also take the opportunity to tour the building and even though the building is still a little rough around the edges in several locations, the comments are almost universally glowing.

Jim is one of the most dedicated Masons you will ever meet. He spent an incredible amount of time at Freemasons Hall, and many times arrived in the mornings at the crack of dawn, and catching a little sleep in the office later in the day in his chair. Few men could have accomplished what Jim has done in the last eight years. The new president, Gary Selig, has some mighty big shoes to fill.

This is truly the end of an era as my longtime friend Nathan Brindle also leaves after eight years as secretary of the board. Nathan at one time was the secretary for nine Masonic organizations, and never dropped a stitch. He and I joined Masonry at Broad Ripple Lodge in Indianapolis at the same time, and he served as Master the year after me, after just three years in the fraternity. He is an accomplished leader, and I have been proud to call him my closest friend since we were sixteen years old.

I served on the board for seven years, and am proud of our achievements. We have helped to stabilize what was an endangered building, and I think we helped to cement it's future. There is still much for the new board to accomplish, and I wish them well. I hope they lead with the same vision that Jim, Nathan and I, and the rest of the dedicated members and volunteers over the years have. It is the home of our Grand Lodge here in Indiana, and is owned by every Indiana Mason. It deserves their support.

Jim is the president of the Masonic Society this year and Nathan is the ongoing secretary. They do just as great a job at leading that organization as they have with Freemasons Hall. I couldn't be prouder of these two men, and I am honored to call them my friends and brothers. Good luck to both of these fine men as they move on to the new phase of their lives.


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

England Once Again Engages In A Masonic Witchhunt

Speaking of the foreign press in the previous post, England's The Guardian has published a completely unfounded rumor about a notorious event in 1989--the Hillsborough disaster. I was immediately suspicious when the cop making the allegation of a "Masonic conspiracy" to cover up police inaction when he referred to another cop as a "grandmaster of a particularly influential lodge." These allegations go back to the Jack Straw days when all members of the judiciary and police officers were required to publicly state that they were Freemasons, the only group singled out for this treatment.

Here's the article. Click the link for more.

Senior South Yorkshire police officers who were freemasons orchestrated a “masonic conspiracy” to shift the blame after the Hillsborough disaster in 1989, the inquests into the deaths of the 96 victims have been told.Maxwell Groome, a constable at the time, said that after the disaster at the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest at Sheffield Wednesday’s football ground, “the word” inside the force was that freemason officers held a meeting to blame superintendent Roger Marshall.Groome said he heard that the meeting took place in portable cabins at South Yorkshire police’s area office, and was attended by Chief superintendent David Duckenfield, who had commanded the match.Questioned by Michael Mansfield QC, representing 75 families whose relatives were killed at Hillsborough, Groome said he believed Duckenfield was “a grandmaster of a particularly influential lodge” – the Dore lodge in Sheffield.Groome also told the inquest that senior officers pressured junior officers to change their statements after the disaster, because they were “terrified” of criticism of the force’s command. He said he was “duped” into agreeing to the changes, because he believed if he did not, he would never be called to give evidence to Lord Justice Taylor’s official inquiry or to the first inquest, and his statement would be “magicked away, dumped in a box, never to see the light of day again”.Groome said a colleague, PC Brookes – whose first name was not given in court – called the inquiry team at West Midlands police to complain it was “a masonic conspiracy”.Groome said Brookes told him West Midlands police asked if he could prove the conspiracy. Brookes told them he couldn’t, and Groome said they concluded it would not be investigated.Asked why in earlier accounts about the events of the day he did not include the rumoured meeting of freemason officers, Groome replied: “Basically, I’d have been committing professional suicide.”Marshall, who was in command outside the Leppings Lane turnstiles at Hillsborough, had requested a large exit gate to be opened, to alleviate a crush of Liverpool supporters outside the ground, and allow a large number in. The jury has heard that police did not close off a tunnel inside, which led to the Leppings Lane terrace’s crowded central “pens”, that many of the incoming fans headed down it, and the lethal crush happened in those pens.Groome said he subsequently heard of the meeting between senior officers, said to have included Duckenfield, superintendents Roger Greenwood and Bernard Murray, Inspector Steven Sewell and Chief inspector David Beal.“Being unable to prove it, I believe that most of them were masons,” he said.The coroner, Lord Justice Goldring, sent out the jury of seven women and four men to allow legal discussions after Groome gave his evidence about the freemasons’ meeting. At the end of the day, the coroner referred the jury to “evidence of a meeting said by Mr Groome, on the basis of rumour, to have taken place on the morning of April 16”.Goldring told them: “I should say this quite clearly to you: we have no other evidence than this rumour, said to emanate from the [South Yorkshire police] area office. It amounts to no more than what the witness described as ‘scuttlebutt’.’”

Queensland, Australia Masonic Lodge Vandalized

Vandalism of Masonic lodges is not isolated to the US. The lodge in Queensland, Australia was hit yesterday by vandals who painted slogans and words on the bricks. In this article by Amy Remelkis she describes the damage, and I didn't appreciate the fact that she went into what one of the words meant. It never ceases in the foreign press.

For photos go to this article in the Brisbane Times here:

Freemasons have been accused of being 'baby killers' and 'terrorists' in a vandal attack on a Queensland Masonic Lodge.The Wynnum Masonic Centre, which was established in Brisbane's bayside in 1894, was targeted by vandals who covered its outer walls in obscenities, upside down crosses and terrorist accusations sometime on Tuesday night.Included among the graffiti was the word 'mabone' which appears to be a reference to 'm…….',  thought to be a "secret word" among freemasons,  meaning the 'Grand Lodge is open'.Freemasons are an international brotherhood society which prides itself on being non-religious and non-political.A spokesman for Queensland Freemasons said the vandal attack was disappointing."There are people in this world who obviously have different standards to the rest of us," he said."We live in an equitable society and it is just unfortunate [this has happened]."Police are investigating.The Wynnum vandal attack follows four Townsville youths making and displaying a racist sign on Tuesday.Premier Campbell Newman called for the community to "come together", but said he didn't believe charges were necessary."This is a democracy, we believe in free speech and I think that in circumstances, a legal approach is the way to go," he said on Tuesday."Again, my message to people is this is a great country, it is a great state – the way it remains a great place is if we all get on. "Let's just get on with our lives, let's live our lives, let's reach out to one another, let's look beyond people's race or religion, as we always have, and then criminals like the deceased [gunman] in Sydney don't win."

H/T to  Alex Ruthman

Friday, December 12, 2014

St. Louis Selling The New Masonic Temple Downtown

The Masons in St. Louis are offering their magnificent downtown temple, known as the New Masonic temple,  for sale for a paltry $6 million.Very sad to lose this incredible place. We just keep selling off our own heritage.  From KSDK.com:
ST. LOUIS - The historic Masonic Temple on Lindell Boulevard is up for sale.
The Masonic Temple Association of St. Louis has put the 386,000-square-foot building on the market for $6 million.
The temple itself has seen its brushes with history and history-making persons. It houses the former officer of then-Senator and Free Mason Grand Master Harry Truman, prior to his becoming President of the United States. And before flying solo to Paris aboard the Spirit of St. Louis, Charles Lindbergh was initiated as mason at the temple. Actor Ernest Borgnine, a mason, not only attended meetings there, but also filmed a scene on the temple steps for the 1980 film Escape from New York.
Architectural firm Eames and Young designed the temple, with consulting architect Albert Groves. Groundbreaking for the temple took place in 1923, with the dedication and opening happening in 1926. It would be Thomas Young's last major project before retiring in 1927; William Eames died in 1915.
The Masonic Temple was constructed in three receding stages, symbolic of the three steps in masonry. The building features 14 levels: six full floor and eight mezzanine levels.
The 185-foot tall temple showcases Greek Ionic style architecture on the exterior, with various styles inside, and massive triple bronze front doors.
The main lobby was built using Bedford limestone with gray limestone trim and marble finishing. The lobby also has a 38-foot mural titled "The Origins of Freemasonry," created by noted African-American artist Jessie Housley Holliman in 1941 and dedicated by Truman. It is the only surviving Holliman mural located in a local public building.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

GL of Texas Approves Prince Hall Visitation

Following on the heels of its Prince Hall brethren, the Grand Lodge of Texas A.F. & A.M. has formally approved inver-visitation privileges to the MW Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Texas F & A.M.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Prestonian Lecturer for 2015 Announced

The United Grand Lodge of England has announced its Prestonian Lecturer for 2015.
Roger Burt will travel England and beyond to present “Wherever Dispersed: The Traveling  Mason,” and raise funds for a registered charity in the process. Burt is a Past Master of both Quatuor Coronati Lodge No. 2076 and Vectis Lodge No. 3075. A Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and a Fellow of the Geological Society, Burt also is an Emeritus Professor at the University of Exeter, and an Honorary Professor in the former Center for Research into Freemasonry at the University of Sheffield.