Page 17 - Montana Freemason Magazine RMMC Aug 2013
P. 17

Montana Freemason  RMMC Special Issue                     August 2013  Volume 88  Number 4

Upon accepting the invitation, I was escorted like        needed to be fixed. For instance, it didn’t make sense
royalty to their Lodge in Northern Portland, which        to repair the water damage in the walls, then open
I might add, is a somewhat economically repressed         them for electrical work, then open them again for
part of the city. This fact is important to note when we  plumbing. The solution was to open them once, fix
consider what’s been accomplished there. The locals       the water damage and do it building-wide. This meant
call it “No Po”.                                          that, rather than easing the Lodge into small fixes, one
                                                          at a time, the most efficient and cost effective way
   Brothers, this is where my story gains speed and       to fix the building was all at once. When the lodge
takes on substance.                                       room carpet, laid in 1955, over horsehair padding,
                                                          was lifted, the dirt beneath filled two 30 gallon trash
   Upon my arrival I was given a tour of the Lodge        bags. Long story short -despite delays, overages, and
by my friend, W. Bro Richard Chase. As I entered          infighting, the June 2011 deadline was met and the
through the double doors of the Lodge room, I almost      Centennial Celebration was a huge success, attracting
dropped to my knees. For sure my jaw dropped. There       civic officials, area dignitaries, and the community at
before me shined one of the most strikingly beautiful     large. However, the $200,000 renovation had turned
Lodge rooms I’d ever set foot in. Immediately my eyes
were drawn to the handsomely painted ‘starry decked                               into a $500,00 renovation, and
heaven’. Next, to the polished black and white marble                             ultimately a mortgage had to be
tiled floor around the alter. Then, to the 3,5 and 7                              taken out on the building to finish
steps leading to an overlooking balcony which lead to                             paying for the improvements.
a totally remodeled dining hall and kitchen. Richard                              They were now cash poor, but
informed me that Kenton Lodge hadn’t always been                                  the building had been saved
so impressive. He went on to elaborate that when he                               for at least another two or three
first affiliated with that Lodge in 2008 it was failing                           generations of Masons, and the
miserably. It’s active members consisted of 4 elderly                             community once again made
PMs who would sit around grumbling about how                                      aware that the “Masons were back
“things used to be”, two members in their early 60’s      Lewis Smith, JGW in town, and open for business.”
and one in his early 20’s who was the son of one of
the 60-somethings. Physically, the Lodge building            Interestingly, on the very eve of my October
had very serious issues. The local fire marshal was no    emergency flight to Portland, Kenton Lodge voted to
longer willing to turn a blind eye to all of the code     merge with Friendship Lodge #160, who had recently
violations. The support timbers were rotting in the       sold their building due to lack of members. This
basement. The roof leaked. There was sever water          merger has since secured the future of both Lodges
damage, electrical and plumbing problems, single-         into one truly strong Lodge with a young, growing
pane windows with dry-rotted sashes and sills, just       membership, a magnificent building and a strong
to name a few. An aging, single gas boiler heated the     financial future.
entire building with a bill in excess of $10,000 a year.
                                                             Friendship is a very active Lodge. They regularly
  Needless to say, Kenton Lodge #145’s future did not     host a ‘speaker’s night’. Just last month, famed Masonic
look bright or even hopeful.                              author W. Brother Chris Hodapp addressed a packed
                                                          Lodge room. They recently marched in Portland’s
Although wanting for membership, Kenton did               Starlight Parade in full Masonic regalia with several
however have financial resources, -over $400K in          PGMs. They give tours to school classes. They
the bank, which the ‘old guard’ was vehemently            communicate via a privately accessed Facebook profile,
against spending in any way. They also had a 100th        posting updates daily. Their website is professional,
anniversary coming up in June of 2011. In 2009 Bro        fresh, and contemporary. This past year they’ve read,
Richard Chase was elected Worshipful Master. A            on average, 2 new petitions per month, and as many as
small, but growing number of incoming younger             SEVEN on one occasion. Their regular meetings are
members saw the repairs as crucially necessary, and       attended by an average of 25 – 30 involved members.
the older members were staunchly and angrily against      Throughout this summer, Friendship Lodge #160 has
it.                                                       degree work scheduled every Wednesday night, with
                                                          no end in sight.

   Built in 1922, Kenton Lodge #145 began its                Consider this: less than 4 years ago that Lodge was
transformation into the 21st century in January of 2011.  what I refer to as an all-too-typical ‘Zombie Lodge’. i.e.
It quickly became obvious that the leaks in the roof      Dead, but not knowing so. Today, it is the model and
and basement were first, but after that EVERYTHING        premier showcase of Freemasonry in Oregon.

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