A Fraternity Rises Again: New Acquisition Highlights the Rebirth of Freemasonry
November 17, 2015
Brunswick Oct. 5, 1844
While the content of this letter may seem unexciting upon first glance, research into this record held in the collection of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library draws attention to a period of rebirth in American Freemasonry. As Masonic historian Ralph Pollard points out, the fifteen years leading up to 1844 had been quite hard on the Fraternity, the “effect of the Anti-Masonic movement on the Maine Lodges was paralyzing. Candidates ceased to apply for the degrees. Members ceased to pay their dues. The indifferent, the timid, and the weak deserted the Fraternity in droves.”
By 1844, with the worst of the anti-Masonic furor finally over, John C. Humphreys, the Master of United Lodge, No. 8, of Brunswick, Maine, sent the above message from his Lodge to Thomas W. Smith, the Grand Master for the Grand Lodge of Maine. In his letter, Humphreys invited Smith to preside over the rededication ceremony of the old Masonic Hall currently residing on Mason Street. United Lodge, No. 8, had built and dedicated the Hall in 1807, and now in 1844 its members wished to have the old building, which had been recently enlarged and refurnished, rededicated by the Grand Lodge of Maine. A report in the Freemason’s Monthly Magazine documents this event, which Smith did preside over and gave the main address.
Twenty-eight years after the rededication, United Lodge, No. 8, had outgrown the old Masonic Hall on Mason Street, and sold it to town of Brunswick, which converted the building into a firehouse for Engine No. 3, the “Niagara.” United Lodge, No. 8, moved into the third floor of the newly built Adam Lemont Building on the corner of Maine and Pleasant Streets on October 3, 1872. The new accommodations were “a marked improvement” Deputy District Grand Master Joseph M. Hayes reported to the Grand Lodge in 1873; “United Lodge, at Brunswick, has now one of the best arranged suites of rooms for masonic uses in the District…”
Letter to Thomas W. Smith from John C. Humphreys, October 5, 1844. Gift of Carl W. Garland. Collection of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library, MA 260.002.
Grand Lodge of Maine (1872). Fourteenth District. In Proceedings of the Grand Lodge, 1870 - 1872, (Vol. 7, pp. 652 – 653). Portland, Maine: Stephen Berry.
Grand Lodge of Maine (1875). Fourteenth District. In Proceedings of the Grand Lodge, 1873 - 1875, (Vol. 8, pp. 205 – 206). Portland, Maine: Stephen Berry.
Moore, Charles W. (1845). Masonic Chit Chat: Dedication of a Masonic Hall. In Freemason’s Monthly Magazine. (Vol. 4, pp. 64). Boston: Tuttle and Dennett. https://books.google.com/books?id=6SIsAAAAMAAJ&vq 14 November 2015.
Pollard, Ralph J. (no date). Freemasonry in Maine, 1762-1945. Portland, Maine: Tucker Printing Company. http://www.mainemasonrytoday.com/history/Books/Pollard/index.htm 14 November 2015.
Pumper Niagara, Brunswick, c. 1920, in the Maine Memory Network, The Maine Historical Society. Portland, ME, USA. https://www.mainememory.net/artifact/12170 14 November 2015.
Taoab (2013). 1870 Adam Lemont Building, 144-150 Maine St., Brunswick, Maine, in Panoramio, Google Maps. http://www.panoramio.com/photo/96419157 14 November 2015.
Wheeler, George Augustus, and Henry Warren Wheeler (1878). History of Brunswick, Topsham and Harpswell, Maine, Including the Ancient Territory Known as Pejepscot. Boston: Alfred Mudge and Son. https://archive.org/details/cu31924028809873 14 November 2015.