Letter to the Editor: Masonic Cornerstone Ceremonies Are Impressive


Having family in Centralia and other parts of Washington state, I read The Chronicle article "Centralia Masonic Temple To Hold Centennial Cornerstone Rededication Celebration" (May 6 issue).

Many of my relatives have been Freemasons and I, myself, hold a life membership having been a Mason for 40 years and counting. I am a fifth generation Mason. My late dad was a Mason for 52 of his 87 years. His brother, my late uncle Charles P. Marples, of Yakima, Washington, was a member for 25 years.

I always liked the area around Centralia and some of my relatives still live at Yelm, Washington. The Chronicle article noted that this Saturday, May 14, the top man of Washington Masonry (the Grand Master of Washington, Cameron Bailey) will officiate at 2 p.m., along with other distinguished Masons in rededicating the building's cornerstone.

I love to see Masonic cornerstones. In many cases, inside them are metallic boxes in which artifacts of the current age are placed within, such as newspaper clippings, coins, newspapers, booklets and souvenirs. I hesitate to call them a "time capsule." The contents inside a cornerstone might be after 100 years. However, the cornerstone, usually erected at the northeast corner of a building, is meant to showcase the polished stone ashlar upon which a sturdy building is built.

It is no secret that in Masonic cornerstone ceremonies there’s a small amount of the elements of corn, wine and oil are reverently poured over the stone. These elements in the Masonic symbolize prosperity, health and peace.

I have seen Mason cornerstones not only on Masonic buildings but also on schools, libraries, churches, farm-service buildings, post offices and nearly all kinds of buildings which serve the public.

The Chronicle article quoted local lodge Master Bill Scarborough in speculating that "it originated with Benjamin Franklin's dedication of the Pennsylvania State House." Not quite. Masonic cornerstone dedication ceremonies date back centuries. There is a bridge in Limerick, Ireland, with a plaque dated 1507 which was inscribed: "I will strive to live with love and care upon the level, by the square."

Within the past month, I have seen the beautiful Masonic cornerstone on the Silent Brotherhood Masonic Lodge #146. It bears a Biblical inscription that many people know by heart: "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for Brethren to dwell together in Unity" (Psalm 133). Below it was etched the particulars about the Lodge: “Organized 1855, Chartered 1857."

I extend my good wishes to all the officers and members of Centralia Masonic Lodge. The Lodge does a lot of good work in the community. And it is a place where good men can associate with other like-minded good men. I would encourage any man aged 18 or older of good moral character who believes in Almighty God to consider inquiring about membership. As noted, I am a fifth generation Mason, but I still had to "ask to join." I'm glad I joined.


James Marples