The Masonic Cornerstone of the Magnificent Mile

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB. Gregory J. Knott

      Chicago is one of the world’s greatest cities and has a long Masonic history.  For a while the old Chicago Masonic Temple was the tallest building at 302 fee within the world.   But did you know that the Magnificent Mile – Michigan Avenue is anchored by a Masonic Cornerstone?

      I wasn’t aware of this fact either until I happened upon on it while walking Michigan Avenue.  Michigan Ave. is widely known for its shopping attractions.  Many modern retailers have taken up shop within the area and offer shoppers everything their money can buy.
      The most famous landmark along Michigan Ave is the Chicago Water Tower.  The Water Tower was built beginning in 1867 and finished in 1869 by architect William W. Boyington from Joliet Limestone.  The structure was one of the few survivors of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 started by Mrs. O’Leary’s cow.  It stands 154 feet high and a physical linkage with the Chicago of old.
     When I started examining the building, I found that it contained a Masonic cornerstone properly laid in the northeast corner of the structure.  I was pleasantly surprised to find this connection in the now fully commercialized area.

     The cornerstone contains the name of Jerome R. Gorin Most Worshipful Grant Master.  So who was MWB Gorin?

MWB Gorin was Grand Master of Illinois in 1867 and 1868.  He was born in Hopkinsville, KY on October 12, 1817 and moved to Decatur, Illinois in 1833.  He was an attorney who served in many capacities including city clerk, elected the Illinois legislature and a well-known banker.

      While MWB Gorin was in office, the Knights Templar of Illinois, formed a commandery at Olney, Illinois which was named in his honor.  Today Gorin Commandery No. 14 is still active and is located at Bridgeport, Illinois.

      So next time you are visiting the Chicago Magnificent Mile, keep in mind the Masons were there first to anchor the way!

The Old Chicago Water Tower with the John Hancock building in the background – named after another famous Freemason, Brother John Hancock.


WB Gregory J. Knott is the Past Master of St. Joseph Lodge No. 970 in St. Joseph (IL) and a plural member of Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL), and Homer Lodge No. 199 (IL). He's a member of both the Scottish Rite, and the York Rite, and is the Charter Secretary of the Illini High Twelve Club in Champaign-Urbana. He's also a member of the Ansar Shrine (IL) and the Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees. Greg is very involved in Boy Scouts--an Eagle Scout himself; he serves the Grand Lodge of Illinois A. F. & A. M. as their representative to the National Association of Masonic Scouters.

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