From Seacoast Online, July 26, 2018
By Jesse Migneault / email@example.com
Original article at http://www.seacoastonline.com/news/20180726/masons-hold-cornerstone-ceremony-for-hampton-academy
HAMPTON — School officials and Masons laid the ceremonial cornerstone to Hampton Academy’s addition and renovation Saturday, officially marking the project’s half-way point.
More than 30 Masons, including Grand Master John Lobdell of New Hampshire Masons, turned out for the cornerstone ceremony, as well as about 100 residents. The $25.9 million project started in July 2017 and is currently on track for completion to open for the 2019-20 school year.
Masons have held cornerstone ceremonies since George Washington, a Mason himself, laid the cornerstone for the US Capital. On the Seacoast, the Masonic cornerstone ceremony has been a tradition for public buildings for hundreds of years, including most recently the Dover Police Station.
Masonic members in attendance saw the ceremony not only as a chance to don aprons, coats, staffs and regalia, but also to share and educate the public about the historic ceremony.
“With us, education is king,” said Lobdell.
The Masonic cornerstone ceremony was conducted by the members of Saint James Lodge No. 102 in Hampton, who also donated the engraved cornerstone as a testament to their support of students and schools. Mason Richard Douillette said the ceremony is a chance for the Masons to make their presence known in the community, where they participate in several fundraising efforts each year.
Those present to witness the ceremony watched members of the lodge as they symbolically squared, leveled and plumbed the cornerstone, culminating with the grand master proclaiming the foundation stone was “well-formed, true and trusty.” Then three members took a silver chalice and blessed the stone with corn, wine and oil.
The actual installation of the stone was done by craftsmen on site from the construction company Bonnette Page and Stone, who with trowel in hand spread the mortar and placed the rectangle into the school’s new brick facade.
SAU 90 Superintendent Kathleen Murphy said the ceremony’s theme was one of combining the past with the present, as the renovation is designed to maintain the building’s historic appearance.
“This week we connected the old with new,” said Murphy to more than 100 people who gathered to witness the event.
As the Masonic cornerstone ceremony brought history to life on the outside, there were workers present inside the building crafting the still unfinished project. Earlier that same week construction crews had broken through a wall from the girls’ locker room, in the school’s original 1935 building, into the cafeteria.
As evidenced by the rising facades and new structures at the Academy, the construction process has seen significant progress this summer. The school’s new art wing will feature band and chorus rooms as well as art rooms and a kiln.
“There’s a lot of parts of this building that we tried to accentuate,” said Murphy. “Kids are going to have opportunities they hadn’t had in the past.”
Also, underway is the construction of new classrooms, which will include fully equipped science rooms. There’s also a unique semi-enclosed outdoor area that will provide students with outdoor access and safety for after lunch and before school.
The project experienced a small delay due to winter storms in March and the discovery of an unexpected burn dump. Murphy said that delay has been overcome and the Academy’s renovation and construction is now fully on track.
“It feels good. Very good,” she said.
Construction is expected to move into the old section of the Academy by September of this year, so there could still be more past meeting the present to come.
“Now that we’re going into the old section we got our fingers crossed we don’t find any more surprises,” said Murphy, “but you know, (the building was built in) 1935.”