Article by Worshipful Bro. Dave Akridge
The Most Worshipful Grand Master, Brother John F. Gordon and the Grand Line, accompanied by the local lodges, Moses Paul Lodge No. 96 and Strafford Lodge No. 29, as well as large contingent of Masons from around the State of New Hampshire were present with Dover City Officials as the symbolic cornerstone was laid on February 10th, 2016 at 4:00pm. According to Most Worshipful Brother Gordon, this cornerstone ceremony marked the first dedication of a public building in 15 years but one of two scheduled for this year.
Making their way in a dignified and solemn procession to the ceremonial cornerstone, Most Worshipful Brother Gordon presided as Deputy Grand Master, Right Worshipful Brother John E. Lobdell, announced the Masonic meaning of the square, declaring that we hold this implement to square our actions by the rule of virtue and found the stone to be square and the Craftsmen having done their duty, Senior Grand Warden, Right Worshipful Brother Kenneth Clay, Jr., applying the implement of his office, the level, declared the stone level, an represented the its moral and Masonic uses teaches equality and the way we prove our work.
Finally, the Junior Grand Warden, Right Worshipful Brother David S. Collins, applied the implement of his office, the plumb and found the stone to be plumb declaring to all that morally, the plumb teaches us rectitude of conduct.
Most Worshipful Grand Master Gordon, declared that the cornerstone had been tested by the proper implement of Masonry and found that the Craftsman had skillfully and faithfully done their duty according to the Ancient Craft. Most Worshipful Gordon proclaimed “May the building be conducted and completed amid the blessings of Plenty, Health and Peace”.
Following this proclamation, Most Worshipful Gordon proceeded to call upon his Grand Line to present the elements of consecration, those being corn, wine and oil. Deputy Grand Master, Right Worshipful Brother Lobdell, scattered the corn as an emblem of Plenty and declared “May the blessings of bounteous Heaven be showered upon us, and upon all like patriotic and important undertakings, and inspire the hearts of the people with virtue, wisdom, and gratitude.
Senior Grand Warden, Right Worshipful Brother Clay, poured the symbolic wine as an emblem of Joy and Gladness, declaring “May the great Ruler of the Universe bless and prosper our National, State and City Governments; preserve the union of the States in harmony and brotherly love, which shall endure through all time.”
Junior Grand Warden, Right Worshipful Collins the poured the symbolic oil as an emblem of Peace and declared” May its blessings abide with us continually; and may the Grand Master of Heaven and earth shelter and protect the widow and orphan and vouchsafe to them, and to the bereaved, the afflicted and sorrowing, everywhere, the enjoyment of every good and perfect gift.”
Finally, Most Worshipful Gordon pronounced “May Corn, Wine and Oil, and all the necessaries of life, abound among men throughout the world. May the blessings of Almighty God be upon his undertaking. May He protect the workmen from every accident. May the structure here to be erected, be planned with Wisdom, supported by Strength, and adorned in Beauty, and may it be preserved to the latest ages, a monument to the energy and liberality of its founders.”
Most Worshipful Gordon then called upon the Grand Marshall, Worshipful Jerome Becker to issue the proclamation, proclaiming the cornerstone of the structure erected, “has been found to be square, level, and plumb, true and trusty, and laid according to the old customs, by the Grand Master of Masons.”
The Grand Chaplain, Right Worshipful Bro. Michael R. Steward, the offered the benediction invoking God to behold and bless the assemblage, those engaged in the ceremony, the workmen, and grant health, prosperity and ultimately everlasting joy and felicity in that holy temple, not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
Following the cornerstone ceremony, The Mayor of Dover, Karen Weston, whose father and son were both Masons, expressed her appreciation of the ceremony and acknowledged the Masonic tradition of laying the cornerstone of public buildings.
Deputy Mayor Robert Carrier, a non- Mason, expressed his appreciation for the dignity of the ceremony.
Finally, Chief of Police, Anthony Colarusso, thanked the Masons for the ceremony and City Officials for the new building. He also presented a Certificate of Appreciation from the City of Dover to Brother Wayne Rockey for the 20 plus years of the partnership with the Dover Police for the Annual DARE breakfast that Brother Rockey has coordinated this event.
The Officers and Brethren of Moses Paul Lodge No. 96 and Strafford Lodge No. 29 were honored to host the Most Worshipful Grand Master, John Gordon, and his Grand Line at this public dedication of the symbolic cornerstone. Most Worshipful Brother Moses Paul, was a resident of Dover and a Captain of Industry in Dover. Masonically, he was a Past Master of Strafford Lodge (1827), Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of New Hampshire (1858-1859), and the name sake of Moses Paul Lodge No. 96 (1890). As we gathered, we could not help remembering that as Grand Master, Most Worshipful Paul, likely performed this very same ceremony during his tenure as Grand Master. We know that he was in the procession when the cornerstone was laid at the Cocheco Manufacturing Company on July 4th, 1821. At his funeral service, Sir Knight Reverend Alonzo H. Quint, D.D. of the Grand Commandery of Massachusetts declared “The poor had an unfailing friend. An integrity never sullied, a moral character without tarnish, a courage which feared nothing lower than his God” … “ Perhaps I speak for others, also, when I say that in Moses Paul, I imbibed by first impressions of Freemasonry. He loved it and exemplified it. He made me feel that the institution therefore was good and great”.
As we reflected on the service just performed, one could not help be struck that this service that we just witnessed was the very same service performed by not only Most Worshipful Paul, but Worshipful Brother George Washington in laying the cornerstone of our Nation’s Capitol on September 18th 1793. In our City of Dover, punctuated by historic buildings where Masonic Cornerstones had previously been laid, in the shadow of the former Masonic Temple of Strafford Lodge # 29 and Moses Paul # 96, Masons from across the State of New Hampshire once again gathered to perform the ceremony that has been the strict provenance of Masons since the founding of our Country.
Most Worshipful Grand Master John F. Gordon, the Grand Line and all present were a part of new history being made in the City of Dover, New Hampshire on February 10th, 2016.