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New Masonic Temple

This article appeared in The Dayton Herald May 19, 1926

New Masonic Temple
 Is Characterized as Emblem of Upright Character
by Speaker at Services While Cornerstone Is Placed.
     The new Masonic temple, dedicated with elaborate ceremony Wednesday afternoon, was characterized as a symbol of morality and upright character from which members of the Masonic fraternity will go forth to help build the temple of human character, by Dr. Hugh I. Evans, pastor of Westminster Presbyterian church and principal speaker of the occasion.
     Masonic history was traced from its origin in Egypt five centuries before Christ by Dr. Evans.  Likewise, the record of Masonry in Dayton was set forth and the deeds of those who aided in its advancement recalled.
     Dr. Evans’ address in full was as follows:
“For each true deed is worship; it is prayer,
  And carries its own answer unaware.
Yes, they whose feet upon good errands run,
  Are friends of God, with Michael of the sun;
Yes, each accomplished service of the day,
  Paves for the feet of God a lordlier way.
The souls that love and labor through all wrong,
  They clasp His hand and make the circle strong;
They lay the deep foundation stone by stone,
  And build into eternity God’s throne.
                            Edwin Markham.
     “One hundred and thirty years ago last month, a little group of pioneers landed their boat, containing all their earthly belongings, on the banks of the Miami, within sight of the place where we stand today.  The wilderness stretched out on every side.   After unloading their precious cargo of women and children, and house hold goods, the boat was torn to pieces, and the first building erected in the city of Dayton was made from the timber of their crude craft.
    “The cost of that building would not exceed $20. Today, we lay the corner stone of a building which will cost when completed, two million dollars.  It seems a far cry from that crude building to the magnificent structure, the erection of which we are witnessing today.
     “Nevertheless, each structure represents the work of makers of history.  The pioneer has a glory all his own.  There is a glory which belongs to him alone to which he is entitled, and from which we must never subtracts a single particle.  The pioneer dreams, and in his dreams, the future is peopled with persons and institutions that can be seen only by the eyes of faith.
     “On the other hand, as essential to civilizations as the pioneer, is the person or institution that preserves the substance of the dreams of the pioneer.  Without the conserving elements within the corporate life of a community, the dreams and visions of the founders are never realized.
     “Freemasonry is a great conserving force.  It preserves ideals, lifts morality, establishes character and steadies frail human beings, as they try to keep their boats afloat amidst the swirling, turgid currents of human life.
     “We are making history today.  Men from near and far are bearing testimony to the value of Freemasonry in the community, and in the world.  The temple which we erect here, will be a symbol of a spirit which all of us who are Masons, recognize as a potent factor in the proper development of any city and community.  The record of this day will be one of the priceless heritages of the future, and thousands of men will look back on this hour, and call them blessed who participate in it.  A crowd of witnesses, made up of those yet unborn, will do honor to those who make possible this gigantic symbol of upright character.
     “The earliest Masonic documents now in existence are called the ‘Old Charges’ of British Freemasons.  The earliest manuscripts date back to the latter part of the fourteenth century.  They contain the charges given to Masons at that time, and of course, pre-suppose the existence of the rites of Freemasonry for centuries before that.
     “There are three great divisions in this charge and around these divisions I propose to center certain remarks that I desire to utter today.  The first division calls for invocation or prayer to Almighty God.  The second division is a legendary history of Freemasonry.  And the third division is the charges with reference to life conduct addressed to the new members.
     “In the first place, Masonry is built upon a belief in God.  The corner stone of this temple is dedicated to Almighty God, as is the life of every true Mason.  The question has often been asked—Is Freemasonry a religion?  And there are those who have believed unwisely that it is.  Nevertheless, Freemasonry has never claimed this for itself.  It does not profess to be a religion. 
     Among the most honored of the men of this community, are the names upon the Masonic roles in the 12 decades of its history.  I must pause to mention one name among the thousands who have given untiringly of their time and labor for the local lodges.  Horace A. Irvin is a name upon many lips today.
     “Not only because of his upright character as a true Mason, but because of the fidelity with which he served this organization, and the enthusiasm with which he wrought for the accomplishment of this great building enterprise.  Every Mason is heartened today as he recalls the superb service and faithful devotion of Horace Irvin, whose spirit moves amidst the events of today.
     “The third division of the old ‘Charges’ in the earliest manuscript is the individual institution addressed to each new member.  The working tools of the operative Mason were taken over, so that they have become the working tools of the speculative Mason.  The modern Mason uses the square as a symbol of the square-cornered building of his character, and regards it as a teacher of morality.  The level, which was used by the Masons in connection with the cathedrals, now denotes quality, binding upon that basis, men of varied interests, into one great fraternity.  The plumb-line, according to which the entire building is erected, represents uprightness of life and action.
     “We, as Masons, today are rededicating ourselves to the fairest virtues, and the highest morality which Masons have always honored.  It is a dedication of heart and life to the best human manhood, and looks with assurance toward that future day when the completion of this temple whose corner stone we lay shall become the symbol of the completed character of every true Mason.”