Deer Lodge Masonic Lodge #14 will celebrate the 150th anniversary of its founding and the 100th anniversary of the cornerstone laying for the Lodge building on Saturday, Oct. 5.
The public is invited to join the celebration as Lodge members conduct tours from 1 to 5 p.m. A rededication of the cornerstone will be conducted at 3 p.m. in front of the Lodge door at 304 Milwaukee Ave. by Most Worshipful Grand Master Louie Fletcher of Billings, grand lodge officers and Lodge #14 members. Dinner will be served at the Elks Lodge at 7 p.m.; doors open at 6 p.m. Reservations for dinner are limited to the first 150 people; cost is $28 per person, available at the door. Presentations will be made by Deer Lodge #14’s Past Grand Masters. Those attending will receive a ceremonial glass and coin.
Deer Lodge Masonic Lodge #14 was chartered on Oct. 6, 1869, the 14th to be established in Montana Territory. The first Lodge building was a two-story brick veneered structure located on one lot where the current building is located. Fifty years later, after adding more lots, the original building was demolished and a three-story brick building was built. The cornerstone was laid on September 17, 1919, with 300 Masons from many other Lodges in attendance. Afterward they traveled to Conley Lake west of the city to celebrate the occasion.
Nearly 175 members attended the first meeting held in the new Lodge on March 16, 1920; weather and bad roads caused the Masons to delay the formal dedication ceremony, to allow “visiting brothers to come in their automobiles.”
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The Lodge building was designed by Whitehouse and Price Architects using Renaissance and Classical Revival style, with a stone or cement arched door surrounded with an arched light, pilasters marking the lodge entry, three-story corner pilaster capped with animate objects and ornate dropped stone cornice made of crosses and recessed arched brickwork over each window.
The lodge meets on the third floor; the first and second floors are rented or leased for commercial businesses, office space and apartments. It is listed on the National Registry of Historical Places.
Freemasonry, the world's oldest and largest fraternity (estimated around 6 million members worldwide, February 2018) has been an important part of the Montana Territory and state history. Freemasonry is founded on a core belief that, through a common dedication to a Supreme Being and several essential principles, good men may be made better.