After more than a year of planning, Jefferson Masonic Association opened its doors to the public and celebrated 100 years of Jefferson Masonic Temple on the weekends of August 4th, 11th, and 12th . The building was transformed into a living museum with the history of Jefferson Park displayed alongside the history of Freemasonry.
The JMA Centennial Celebration Planning Committee, working with Nadig Newspapers, the Northwest Historical Society, Alderman John Arena’s office, and the Jefferson and Gladstone Park Chambers of Commerce literally turned our 100th Anniversary into a Community Event because, as we both already knew to a certain extent, and reinforced during the process of our planning, the original members of Wiley Eagan Lodge #593, the original lodge established in Jefferson Park in 1869, was created by founding members of Jefferson Park.
The entry hall is now a permanent gallery. As you walk into the building the first thing you will see is a new painting called “The Temple.”
“The Temple” Christopher Wright -2008
On the right of the entry hall is an oversized replication of the Declaration of Independence created to honor those Masons who were members of the Continental Congress who helped to establish the freedoms upon which the United States are founded.
The left wall, centered around a bronze plaque created by Warren Lodge #209, in 1918, which honors their members who fell during World War I, is now a living memorial to those Masons who both have in the past, and are presently busy defending those freedoms and rights as members of the Armed Services.
This is a living memorial and additional pictures will be added as they are made available to us. The only requirement to having a picture included is that the picture be of someone who is both a Veterans and Mason.
Throughout the rest of our wonderful building we created history displays showing how those Masons who created both the original Masonic lodges in Jefferson Park were also residents and business men in the Community.
We also told the story of the formation of Jefferson Masonic Association in May of 1906, created to explore the possibility of a building owned by Providence Lodge #711 because their membership, like the then Chicago neighborhood of Jefferson Park, was growing by leaps and bounds. In 1911, using land donated by Worshipful Brother Lafayette Hopkins, the Association finally built what is now Jefferson Masonic Temple.
On Sunday, August 12th members of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Illinois, under the direction of Most Worshipful Grand Master Terry Seward, gathered on the steps of our building to rededicate our building and cornerstone to Masonic Uses, beginning our next 100 years. Following the rededication ceremony, Bro Bruce Barnes, of the Jefferson Masonic Association planning committee, with the assistance of Louise Westergarrd, Associate Worthy Grand Matron of the Eastern Star; Wor Bro Gary Wayne Hardesty III, Master of King Oscar Lodge #855; Wor Bro Jaime Vargas, Master of Northwest Lodge #271; and Wor Bro Stanley Smith, Master of Oriental Lodge #33 assisted Brother Barnes in the unveiling of a granite plaque to honor the Brothers on the original Jefferson Masonic Association Board who
“Worked Tirelessly to Ensure the Concept, Financing, and Building of Jefferson Masonic Temple”
This plaque quarried from Vermont Granite, and carved by Gast Monument Company of Chicago will, upon completion, be permanently embedded in the brick, immediately above the existing cornerstone.
The committee could not have done this work alone. We need to acknowledge Frank Suerth, of Northwest Historical Society; Brian Nadig of the family owned Nadig Newspapers, who made it possible to piece together heretofore unknown information and help complete history for both Jefferson Park and Jefferson Masonic Temple. A brochure was created for all of our visitors, copies of which have been placed into the mail boxes of each of the lodges and appendant bodies which meet in the building for distribution to their members who might like to retain one as a souvenir.
We have also created a bronze style challenge coin in commeration of the event and those are available for $25.00 each. Ten coins were numbered with the Lodge or Appendant Body number for each of the groups which meet in our building. If we run out of a number, and have sufficient requests for additional coins, these can be reordered.
Worshipful Brother Richard Sobotta, President of Jefferson Masonic Association, also created a limited edition, 1oz, .999 pure silver, proof style commerative coin which can be purchased through either him or Brother Barnes. There were only 100 of these produced and they are more than 30% sold at this time so if you are interested please see Brothers Sobotta or Barnes to purchase your coin. Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover Card and cash are accepted for the purchase of the coins. 100% of the proceeds benefit cost of putting this celebration together.
For additional updates on both the 100th Anniversary celebration, commerative coin ordering information and updates on what is going on at Jefferson Masonic Temple, please check the website at www.JeffersonMasonicAssociation.org on a regular basis.