Ernie Turner holds the Tiler’s sword in front of the Brookings Masonic Lodge. The sword is traditionally held by the Mason who guards the door during meetings. The Pilot/Jane Stebbins
The Masons in Brookings are reaching across the border – and bypassing a few rules and regulations along the way – to offer their brethren in Crescent City the use of their facility since the California lodge burned down on the Fourth of July.
The fire, later deemed to have been set by three juveniles, destroyed memorabilia including journals, degree work, Bibles and tools dating back to the organization’s birth in 1853. It also disintegrated newer documents, regalia, pictures, paintings of past public officials and members and historical documents from the lodge and Del Norte County, Crescent Masonic Master Stan Ridens told the Del Norte Triplicate in July.
The building was destroyed in the fire, and while insurance will cover its reconstruction – the Masons just got approval to tear down what’s left of the structure – all the fraternal organization’s heirlooms are lost.
Worshipful Master Ernie Turner, of Sydney Croft Lodge No. 206 in Brookings, said the gesture is potentially precedent-setting – and definitely historic. The Crescent City lodge will hold its meeting on Monday.
“I don’t know of any Oregon lodge that ever gave a California lodge the permission to use its lodge,” he said. “Each state has its own Grand Lodge, and own rules and regulations and no national, master lodge regulating it all.”
Neither California nor Oregon Masonic law forbids another state’s lodge from using their facilities – but neither does any law permit it.
“This is a historic thing,” Turner said. “An example would be like getting a hunting license in California, but because of some situation, you can hunt in Oregon. That’s not normally done. In the Masonic world, this is a big thing.”
The offer was easy.
“We went down that Saturday morning,” Turner said. “And said, ‘You can use our lodge,’ and they said, ‘Now we have to go to the Grand Lodge for permission,’ and they said OK, and everyone agreed, so there we are. This (issue) just never comes up.”
California’s Grand Mason in San Francisco granted the dispensation, so Crescent Lodge No. 45 will hold its meetings in Brookings beginning Aug. 6 until the new lodge is built in Crescent City. Because doing so is such momentous occasion, Turner has been told that more than 80 Masons from cities in both states plan to attend.
They will use Brookings’ paraphernalia, chairs, altar and “representations of the lodge” during their meeting.
Regional lodges have contributed items – and will present them at the Aug. 6 meeting – to make whole the new Crescent City Masonic Lodge. One donated money for a computer, another is procuring a Bible. The Brookings lodge is replacing the Tiler’s sword, held by the Mason who guards the door during meetings.
The monthly ritual, or business meeting, is held on second Tuesdays in Brookings. The lodge is located at 416 Azalea Park Road.