Historic Masonic lodge saved from demolition - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Historic Masonic lodge saved from demolition

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) -

A Masonic lodge that dates back more than a century is celebrating a second chance at preserving its history.

Hurricane Katrina damaged Rectitude Lodge number 323 in Gulfport. In fact, some members thought the building would have to be torn down, but on Saturday there was a rededication ceremony.

Since 1902, rectitude Lodge Number 323 has been on 32nd Avenue in Gulfport. Members said $160,000 in hurricane damage and no insurance almost brought that long history to an end.

Past Master Joel Birdsong said, "We got good news one day before we were getting ready to tear our building down. FEMA had asked us to. It needed to be torn down because it was getting ready to fall on a neighbor's home. So we were real close but God is good."

With the help of historic preservation grants, the Masons were able to move forward with saving the building. Members said another Masonic lodge from Iowa donated furniture.

"It really shows you that a community that stands together will work together," Jamel Lane, Worship Master. "It shows you that we can do more than destroy our community. We can uplift it and build it up."

The Masons said their organization is built on a commitment to faith and community service. They want to make sure there is a new generation of masons to carry on that tradition.

"We're actually trying to grow our organization and mason is designed to take good men by the hand and make them better men," Lane said. "We have a real lack of stabilization in African American men. We are hoping they can maybe fall in early with free masonry or some other form of community service and make a difference instead of being a hindrance."

The celebration also included a banquet at the 19th Street Community Center.

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