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Pieces of the Past — 241

March 20, 2024

If you read American History, you’ll surely see some very familiar names. George Washington, Paul Revere, John Adams, John Handcock, and a long list of “signers” of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

Many more remain undocumented. Like the men who donned “wild Indian” garb and destroyed a lot of Tea in Boston Harbor. The thing that bound many of them together was a symbol. The compass and square. America’s founders weren’t all Masons but many of them were.

Freemasonry was born as a trade guild. Its roots can be traced back to the earliest stone constructions. In the 1600s men who did not work in stone began taking interest in the strong brotherhood that Masons showed each other and “speculative” masons were admitted. Benjamin Franklin was one of those. He was the very first “Grand Grand Master” of one of the oldest such Grand Lodge. The Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania was founded in 1731.

Warren was growing fast by the mid-1800s. Men who admired the principals of the fraternity gathered at the Mansion House on 4th Avenue and other such places. Warren’s Masons achieved their first charter in 1850. One of the members of the group decided to build an appropriate lodge room for their meetings. The room remains in use to this day. It’s now a rehearsal hall on the top floor of the Struthers Library Theater. I’ve been there. It wouldn’t take much at all to restore the area to its original state.

Warren’s Masonic connections run very deep. Several of its members were active in the Grand Lodge establishing traditions that remain in practice. Lodge 241 was the primary tenant of the building that housed J.C. Penney on the ground floor in the center of Liberty Street for many years. At the height of the late 1800s and early 1900s, additional lodges in Warren, Columbus, Youngsville, and Sugar Grove sprang up. Many of those merged with nearby larger lodges over the years. I can speak for Columbus. Its furnishings remain stored at the Corry Masonic Lodge. Columbus merged with Corry in 1948.

Masons serve in the background of many charitable and noteworthy organizations. The most well-known are the Shriners. All Shriners must first be masons. Masons work directly and indirectly to support and maintain senior care, the National Eye Foundation, and many more. Today Masons nationwide raise over $2 million every day for the benefit of thousands.

The Grand Lodge website is the ideal place to find more detailed information: pagrandlodge.org

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