By Ed Pierce
day drivers traveling on River Road in Windham pass by a large brick building
not realizing the history and tradition associated with the structure. To be
precise, 964 River Road has been the home of the Presumpscot Lodge 70, the
local gathering spot for Freemasons in the area since it was constructed and
dedicated in 1970.
The history of the Windham Masonic Lodge
dates back 156 years and as Maine celebrated its bicentennial this year,
masonry joined in the observance as it can trace its roots in Maine back to
1820 as well. Often misunderstood as a “secret society,” masonry is an
international fraternity that Benjamin Franklin, a mason himself, once said “had
to Jim Ross, Presumpscot Lodge secretary, Windham’s Masonic history coincides
with the rise of the community of Windham.
|The Presumpscot Lodge at 964 River Road has|
has been the local gathering spot for Freemasons
since it was first constructed and dedicated in
1970. A ceremony on Saturday will observe
the 50th anniversary of the building in Windham.
PHOTO BY ED PIERCE
in 1864, the first Lodge Master was John R. Rollins, and the first Lodge
building was located at Windham Hill,” Ross said. “The lodge takes its name
after the Presumpscot River when that river played a prominent part in the
town’s early formation.”
said that in 1887 the original Masonic building was dismantled and
reconstructed by John R. Rollins, a local carpenter and businessman, at a
location near what is now the Vacuum Doctor building at 725 Roosevelt Trail in
Lodge remained at that location until 1970 when its new Lodge building at its
current location at 964 River Road was constructed,” he said.
2009 the Presumpscot Lodge was consolidated with Standish Lodge of Masons, who
were in a very old building requiring needed repairs which were cost
prohibitive to that membership.
Windham Masons happily accepted their neighbors at the Windham location and a
new Lodge was essentially born while maintaining the name of Presumpscot,” Ross
Masonry in Maine dates back even
further. In 1762, the Provincial Grand Lodge of the Grand Lodge of England (now
the United Grand Lodge of England) issued a charter to form a Lodge in
Falmouth, which eventually became Portland, at the request of several Masons
living in the area.
In 1819, the people of Maine voted to
withdraw from Massachusetts and form a separate state. There were 31 Maine
Lodges at the time, active and thriving, who then met in convention and voted
to follow suit and form their own Grand Lodge when the separation took place,
“When Maine joined the Union as the
23rd state on March 15, 1820 and the Grand Lodge of Maine came into being on
June 1 following,” he said. “It was consecrated by the Grand Lodge of New
Hampshire on June 24, 1820 with William King, the first (and serving) Governor
of Maine installed into the office of Grand Master.”
Windham’s Presumpscot Lodge’s membership
in 2020 stands at 233 and its organizational structure consists of a Lodge
Master who is the presiding head of the Lodge, a Senior Warden and Junior
Warden who are the second and third officers respectively in charge along with
a Secretary and a Treasurer. All five officers are elected by the membership at
its annual meeting in December every year and hold one-year terms.
lodge officers include two Deacons, two Stewards, a Chaplain, a Marshal, and a
Tyler (also known as a sentinel) and are appointed by the Lodge Master, Ross said.
to celebrate the lodge building’s 50th anniversary and rededication
Saturday will be the Lodge Master, Mark G. Rosenhek of Raymond.
“I like being a part of a borderless, international fraternity
whose members are accepting of varied opinions and beliefs,” Rosenhek said. “I
find Masonry’s association with Colonial America and our member Founding
Fathers, meaningful. As the Worshipful Master of Presumpscot Lodge, I most
enjoy sharing our ritual with, and welcoming new members into our Fraternity.”
said that Windham’s Masonic Lodge is made up of men who share similar values
for their own well-being, and for the overall health and welfare of the
inhabitants of their community.
contribute time and resources to charity. They participate in many outreach
programs designed to better their community,” Ross said. “Many of these
endeavors are performed on an individual level while the Lodge may organize to
support a chosen endeavor in town that is important to its members”
said that when a man asks to
join a Masonic Lodge, he enters into an opportunity for personal development,
character building, and the acquisition of leadership capacities.
“Through his Masonic journey and his
association which his brethren provide, a Mason learns the skill and finds the
understanding with which he can enhance his community and strengthen his family,”
Former Maine Sate Representative Tom Tyler, a lifelong resident of
Windham, said being a Mason has been a meaningful part of his life and he
enjoys the camaraderie he finds at the lodge.
me becoming a mason was to join a fraternity of men who had a common bond of
responsibility and dedication to charity,” Tyler said. “Everyone knows of the
Shriners, a part of Masonry, however what I found was so much more. As we say
to men interested in joining the Masons you will be ‘Not just a Man, A Mason.’ For
me it is the fellowship, working with men from all walks of life for common
goals,” Tyler said.
said that while the moral philosophy of Freemasonry is
founded upon religious principles, it is neither a religion nor a substitute
“It does not solicit membership but welcomes
men who have good morals and who profess a belief in a Supreme Being,” he said.
“Any man sincerely desirous of serving humanity needs only to ask a member in order
to receive a petition for membership.” <