For those who have driven down Washington Street and passed the Cornerstone Lodge sign, or who have seen the “all you can eat” flyers around, the mystery is about to end. The Clipper sat down with some of Duxbury’s Masons to learn about the history of the lodge and what the masons have in store for the future.
The Charter of the Lodge was granted to the Cornerstone Lodge in Duxbury in 1801. Many of their descendents were also members at some point in time. The Lodge functioned with regular meet- ings until the charter was surrendered to the Grand Lodge on July 5, 1834 and the Lodge existed only through the Corner Stone Charitable Association until December 1844, when the Lodge again became active with the title of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons Cornerstone Lodge.
Although no one knows how or when the Masonic Fra- ternity was formed, a widely accepted theory is that is arose from the stonemasons’ guilds during the Middle Ages. Free- masonry became popular in colonial America and members included George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and Paul Revere. Over the centuries, Freemasonry developed into a worldwide fraternity that emphasizes personal study, self- improvement and social betterment.
Duxbury Masons meet “on or before the full of the moon on a Saturday.” There are currently 25 members who regularly come to meetings at the Lodge on Washington Street.
A typical meeting would include initiating a new Brother. A new mason has to learn a certain section or ritual of the teachings and works with a mentor to learn the teachings of the Lodge which remains a secret to this day. With today’s busy schedule, Duxbury Master Roy Davis of Marshfield said it is particularly difficult for new members to learn as much about the teachings and rituals as they used to, which means there are fewer and fewer new members. Membership in the lodge is open to men of all races, creeds and professions over the age of 18. The only requirement is that a member must believe in a higher being.
Duxbury resident Bob Delano joined the Lodge in 1951. In 1960, the Lodge decided to utilize the building as part of the Lodge and The Order of Eastern Star, a similar organization for women, met from 1937 to 2005 at the Lodge. The two organizations have similar teachings, and Bob’s wife Nancy Delano has been a member since the 1950s, when she moved to Duxbury permanently.
“[The masons] won’t let me in the door yet, but as you see I have been quite acquainted with the Masons,” Nancy Delano joked, as she rattled off all the important dates and facts from the history of the lodge.
Although there are currently no requirements for a Mason in Duxbury, Davis said he would like to start pushing for community service opportunities for the masons. The Lodge already makes a point to help out community organizations, including the Demolay Boys, Rainbow Girls and the Girl Scouts, who frequently attend the Lodge’s breakfasts to sell cookies.
The Masons are also involved with a charity called the Angel Fund, where masons go to the school, talk to the superintendent or the nurse and inquire if there are any children in need. The name of the family is not released to the Masons, but they are told whether the family needs food or clothing and the lodge gives the school a gift certificate to an appropri- ate store or business to give to the family.
When asked why he chose to become a Mason, Bob Delano said it was because “it ran in the family.” Bob Delano’s father and brother were also Masons, and Nancy Delano said even though the Masons are not allowed to recruit others, she said she had no problem telling people about Masons. Nancy Delano’s father was also a Mason.
“Nothing stops me from telling people it’s great to be a mason and you really ought to be,” she said.
Bruce Tenney became interested in the fraternity through his father, who was a Mason in Connecticut. When he used to visit him, he would attend public Masonic events, like installations or cook outs.
“So there was a family tie in it for me, which happens a lot,” Tenney said. “There are often family connections, so it passes down from generation to generation.”
Davis’ story begins in 1967, with one of his brothers, who was doing training on B52s during the Vietnam War. Davis, who was going to school to learn how to make jewelry, drove with his brother out to the training base in Michigan and decided to continue on to visit family in Denver. Just before heading home from Denver, he decided to take a bus out to California simply because he hadn’t been there before.
“I got to California, looked around and thought, ‘Well, that was cool,’” Davis said. “So I reached in my pocket and found $11. So, I hopped over the fence, got down to the highway and out out my thumb."
After many rides, Davis got to Texas and a gentleman pulled up in a Cadillac and offered Davis a ride. During the ride with the man and his wife, Davis noticed the driver had a Masonic ring on his finger. When he inquired about the ring, the man asked him how he knew what a Masonic ring was.
"I told him I was going to school for making jewelry and I had just gotten done making a solid gold ring for my dad with the square and compass emblem on it,” Davis said. “He asked if my dad was a Mason, and I said yes.”
Upon learning this information, the man told Davis he would put him on a plane and make sure he got home safely. Davis explained he was going out to visit one of his dad’s friends but didn’t have the money to get there.
“‘Did I ask you for money?’ the man asked me,” Davis said. “He told me he’d like to help me get there. I couldn’t wait to get home to join the Masons.”