Masons display presidential relics
A number of presidential relics are on display this month in the lobby at Alpine Bank in celebration of the 150th anniversary of Masonry in Colorado.
The display is on loan from the M.W. Grand Lodge of Colorado A.F. and A.M. in Colorado Springs. It includes a letter to the masons from George Washington written in 1786, and another from James Mercer, a member of the Continental Congress in the same year.
Although President Abraham Lincoln was not a confirmed mason, he did support the organization and was known to have attended several meetings. He did not join because he said he didn’t want to win an election based on his membership. A walking stick was made for him by two members of the organization, which he used throughout the election. He returned the stick to the original makers after becoming president. That walking stick is a part of the display.
So is a violin played by Thomas Jefferson, as well as a number of medals, gavels and other historical keepsakes.
The Freemasons organized its first meeting long before Colorado was a state. Many masons came to the territory looking for gold after the California gold rush. Their first meeting took place in the Denver area on Aug. 2, 1861.
The masons laid the first cornerstones in many of the historical landmarks on the Front Range, which are still standing today.
There are currently 132 lodges operating in Colorado with more than 11,000 members. The Colorado Freemasons are a philanthropic group who provide CHIP ID programs, scholarships for band camp, colleges, vocational training, and present the annual Colorado Teacher of the Year Award.
The local Grand Junction Masonic Lodge No. 173, 2400 Consistory Court, will celebrate the anniversary with an open house at 5 p.m., Saturday, May 20. A special presentation will begin at 6 p.m. about the life of William Byers, founder of the Rocky Mountain News.
Both the display at the bank and the open house are free and open to the public.