Here Ye, Here Ye!
On June 24, St. John’s Lodge No. 1, Portsmouth, NH is 275 years old.
1736 June 24 2011
Can you imagine – our grand old lodge is 275 years old. To put it in perspective, when our lodge was constituted in 1736, the father of our country, Bro. George Washington, was only four years old, and our soon-to-be country was 13 colonies under British rule.
From the earliest days of the fraternity, Freemasonry chose as its patron saints, Saint John the Baptist and Saint John the Evangelist. The feast days of the Holy Saints John were celebrated as holidays by Masons and observed by attending a religious service followed by a banquet. It is likely that our lodge, founded on June 24, the birthday of Saint John the Baptist, recognized this important day every year from its founding in 1736.
On St. John’s Sunday in 1932, a special ceremony commemorating the 125th anniversary of the laying of the cornerstone in 1807 was held. A tablet was unveiled in the south vestibule to mark this event. The church was filled to overflowing. An estimated 700 Masons were in the line of march that morning.
In 1935, 500 Masons marched on St. John’s Sunday to hear Rev. Bro. Francis E. Webster, Rector of Christ Church of Boston (the Old North Church) preach the sermon.
At the 200th anniversary of the lodge in 1936, Rev. Bro. Percy D. Endrop, Dean of Christ Church Cathedral, Springfield, MA, delivered the sermon at St. John’s Church with 600 Masons marching in the parade.
In 1952-53, the parish erected an adjoining parish house. The cornerstone
was laid with Masonic ritual under the leadership of Most Worshipful Walter E. Dunlap, Grand Master of New Hampshire.
In 1955, the 200th anniversary of our first observance by the Masons at Queen’s Chapel was held. Rev. Bro. Charles F. Hall, Bishop of the Diocese of New Hampshire preached the sermon. The line of march for the parade included 600 Masons.
On St. John’s Sunday in 1960, the Governor of New Hampshire, Bro. Wesley Powell, a member of our lodge, delivered an eloquent address on the life of St. John the Baptist. On St. John’s Sunday in 1986, the year of our lodge’s 250th anniversary, Rev. Bro. Robert W. Golledge, Rector of Christ Church of Boston delivered the sermon. Once again, hundreds of Masons participated and hundreds of interested citizens looked on as the parade processed through downtown Portsmouth.
From the time I was a small boy watching my father march on St. John’s Sunday, to my first participation in the parade in 1974 as a member of the Order of DeMolay, to 1988, when I marched as Master of St. John’s Lodge, to last year when I helped lead the parade as a member of DeWitt Clinton Commandery, Knights Templar, the St. John Sunday parade has been an enormously important and rewarding tradition; I look forward to it every year.
I will be participating again this year, and I hope you will be too! It’s Sunday morning, June 26. What a wonderful opportunity it will be to showcase the Masonic Fraternity; and what better way to honor our lodge on its 275th Anniversary than to participate. Just as we did 256 years ago, we will put on our white aprons, form a procession, and march to St. John Church. And as we near the church and walk up the hill, the church bells will be ringing, and the Rector and his parishioners will be there welcoming us. We will be afforded the opportunity to offer up our devotion to God, celebrate the birthday of St. John the Baptist for whom the church and our lodge are named, and when the service is over, we will return from whence we came, marching together as members of the oldest, most recognized, and best fraternal organization on Earth. Please come and join us
this year. You will be really glad you did.
Happy Birthday St. John’s Lodge!
Alan M. Robinson, PM