We were well into getting the Lodge cleaned up. The junk had been hauled off from that spare room. Some of the painting had been done. New carpet had been laid in the preparation room, and in that spare room as well. And there was already a brand new roof on the Homer Temple!
It was time to dig into a project we'd been putting off. We knew there was a lot of stuff in the attic of the Lodge--Greg Knott had seen it at one time. We knew it needed to be brought down and gone through. So one Saturday morning we gathered at the Lodge, and with the help of several Boy Scouts, we set about the task of bringing it all down. We knew a lot of that stuff could have some historical significance, not only to the Fraternity but for the community as well, so we had two members of the Homer Historical Society, Molly Shoaf and Ray Cunningham, there to look through what we were bringing down.
We set up a bucket brigade, and the ones that lost the coin toss and were up in the attic began handing down load, after load, after load, after load of stuff. We filled several tables in the dining room. We covered the floor of the Tyler's room . . . and it just kept coming. I think we were all shocked at just how much was up there.
|Left to right: Molly Shoaf, Greg Knott, Denver Phelps, and Jared Fritz|
|Molly Shoaf beginning the process of organizing the enormous treasure trove of records we discovered.|
As we looked at all this stuff, something changed . . . the purpose of our project seemed to change. At least it did for me. It was no longer about saving an old building, or even a Lodge. It was about saving a piece of history that at least for the time being, was still alive and well after 160 continuous years.
Once we got all that stuff down from the attic, the question was what we were going to do with it once we got through it all. Put it all back up there to collect dust again? How could we tell the 160 year old story of Freemasonry in Homer, Illinois that all these old artifacts represented?
Remember that spare room I mentioned? It had three old glass cases in it--probably left overs from one of the businesses that operated out of the first floor of the temple at one time or another. Kind of like the display cases you'd use in a museum. Perhaps that's a story for the next installment--the story of the Homer Masonic Temple Museum.