Maryland Freemasons plan to  celebrate 100th anniversary of  Cumberland Masonic Temple

During the original dedication of the Cumberland Masonic Temple on Nov. 12, 1912, Freemasons marched through the downtown area of Cumberland prior to the official ceremony at the building on Greene Street.

CUMBERLAND — In just a few weeks, area Freemasons will gather to mark a significant milestone in the group’s history.

On Nov. 11, the 100th anniversary of the Cumberland Masonic Temple building will be celebrated in grand fashion in a rededication ceremony. Dignitaries from Maryland and neighboring states will be in attendance.

According to Paul Shircliff, a member of the planning committee, the event will be based on the original dedication ceremony held on Nov. 12, 1912.    

The Cumberland Masonic Temple, located on Greene Street, is home to several organizations, including the Potomac, Queen City and East Gate lodges; Cumberland Scottish and York Bodies, including Salem Chapter, Antioch Commandery and Salem Council; as well as the Cumberland Chapter of the Knights of St. Andrew; McKinley Chapter of the Order of Eastern Star; Cumberland Chapter of the Order of DeMolay; and the Cumberland Assembly of the Order of Rainbow for Girls.

Shircliff said paperwork discovered in the Freemasons Hall in England reveals that local Masonic history can be traced back to May 1755, when the 44th and 48th Irish Regiments arrived with Maj. Gen. Edward Braddock.

Both regiments had traveling warrants as military lodges and it is believed that one or more Masonic meetings were held while they were encamped at Fort Cumberland.

One of the most famous Freemasons, George Washington, was also in the region at this time and is believed to have attended these early meetings, while serving as aide-de-camp.     

The first lodge formed in Cumberland was Allegany Lodge No. 61 in 1816.

In the following decades, several other lodges were formed. These early lodges held meetings at various locations for many years, before the Cumberland Masonic Lodge was built in 1909, under the leadership of the Masonic Temple Association.

Property was purchased on Water Street, now Greene Street, on the site of the Old Fort Cumberland.

Wright Butler was selected to design the building and work was completed by Olin Gerlach of Frostburg.

The cornerstone was laid June 1, 1911, and the building was completed in November 1912 at a final cost of $75,000.

The local temple houses artifacts and items directly related to the organizations that meet there, but also houses an array of original art. Paintings by the famed Herman DuBrau Art Studio of Cumberland can be found throughout the building. Furniture in the building was built by H.U.F. Flurshutz and Sons, but one of the most prized pieces is an Italian marble statue on display in the main staircase, donated by Thomas Footer, owner of Footer Dye Works.

The temple was dedicated in full Masonic ritual Nov. 12, 1912, under the guidance of Grand Master Thomas Shyrock and his Grand Line. Maryland Grand Master Ponzillo will perform a ceremony based on that 1912 event during the 100th anniversary re-dedication.

All officers of the Blue Lodges, Scottish and York Rites will be in formal attire with white gloves, wearing the traditional jewels and white aprons, of their respective positions. Ponzillo will re-

create the original dedication ceremony using a replica of the temple, and performing a ceremony using corn, wine and oil. These materials represent the wages earned by ancient Masons.

For Shircliff, this ceremony is an opportunity to pay homage to an organization that has played an important role in his life for more than 45 years. A 33-degree member of the Valley of Cumberland Scottish Rite, Shircliff was first introduced to the organizations by his grandfather. He said the organization has brought him great personal joy and contentment, and he hopes events such as this will encourage others to consider joining the organization.

 A banquet will be held at 6 p.m., followed by the rededication ceremony. The formal ceremony will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Main Lodge Room, with the presentation of the colors by the York Rite and the Arch of Steel by the Scottish Rite of St. Andrew.

In addition to the official ceremony, citations and proclamations from the city, county and state will be read and the event will include patriotic music.

“We have been planning this for a year and it is truly going to be a dynamic event for all Freemasons, past, present and future,” Shircliff said. “This is an important time for all Masons.”

There are 100 lodges in Maryland and Freemasonry has seen an increase in membership as a result of a recent campaign, Project 2025, designed to have 25,000 active Masons in Maryland by the year 2025. Through open houses and other events, Shircliff believes interest in the world’s oldest fraternal organization will continue to grow.

Individuals interested in attending this historic event are asked to contact Charles Hout, reservation chairman, at 301-729-4156 by Nov. 1.

Contact Angie Brant at abrant@times-news.com.

 

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