Bringing Back The Light Part 4: The Museum

by Midnight Freemasons Founder
Todd E. Creason, 33°

The Homer Masonic Temple Museum (IL)
Part 4 of the Bringing Back the Light Series

So thanks to our previous efforts at Homer Lodge No. 199, the former junk room had been cleaned out.  New carpet had been put down, but we didn't really have a plan yet for that spare room.  About the only thing in that room was three glass display cases (leftovers most likely from past business tenants on the first floor).  And we're looking at this huge pile of historic records and artifacts and trying to figure out what to do with all of it--specifically how to tell the story contained in those records and those objects we found up in the attic.  It was a no-brainer.  We could display the best pieces on the walls and in the display cases in our spare room.

And so we went about deciding what we'd put in that room.  We found an old projector, along with two sets of old hand-tinted glass degree slides.  We found several old Master's hats (including a collapsible silk top hat).  There were old collars and jewels from the Lodge, from the York Rite that had a long history of the building, and the Eastern Star.  In fact, once curtains were hung in that room, the curtain tiebacks are actually Eastern Star jewels.  One of my favorite things was something that Greg Knott found rolled up in a tube.  The original 1896 blueprints for the Lodge printed on cloth.  Greg scanned them and we framed one of the best reproductions to display.  Without even trying we filled those cases and the walls with the story of Freemasonry in Homer, Illinois. 

Todd E. Creason examining some old degree slides found in the attic.
But something interesting began to happen as we went along--we began receiving donations.  One of the first items we got was the altar that belonged to a Broadlands Lodge, which had merged with Ogden Lodge some years earlier.  The members of Ogden Lodge wanted to see it put to better use than collecting dust in their back room.  One of Ogden's members died and his daughter donated some of his personal items to the museum, including his Shriners fez.  We have received a few photographs of past members taken during WWII and Korea that we'll be hanging.  Ogden Lodge also donated some beautiful old tracing boards that we have prominently displayed.

The museum is quickly outgrowing our little room.  We have plans to take over the hallway walls and dining room as we get further along.  We also have plans to beginning documenting our present day work as well by hanging some new photos on the walls of our restoration efforts, and our resurgence in the community.  We may be an old Lodge, but we're an active Lodge--the history continues, and we believe the story is a long way from being over.

We've had a few open houses since where we've opened the museum.  We have plans to do that on a more regular basis.  Each time we've opened the Lodge the public, we've collected stories.  Almost always as people look at the photos on our walls and the pictures of our Past Masters, they'll point at something or someone in particular and tell a story about something the Lodge was once involved in, or a story about one of the men or women involved with the bodies that met in our building over the last 160 years.  And I'm sure as we go along, we'll collect many more.

We should all remember that Lodges are often historic places, and we should take the effort to preserve that history, and find ways to share that history with the communities we're in.  If you don't have room like we do in our Lodge, perhaps find out if your local historical society or county museum would be interested in sharing some of your history.  It's been pretty remarkable what the response has been to our little museum, and the reactions we've gotten to it.  


Todd E. Creason, 33°, is the Founder of the Midnight Freemasons blog and is a regular contributor.  He is the author of several books and novels, including the Famous American Freemasons series. He is the author of the From Labor to Refreshment blog.  He is a Past Master of Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL), and currently serves as the Secretary, and is also a member of Homer Lodge No. 199 where he serves as Senior Warden.  He is a member the Scottish Rite Valley of Danville, the York Rite Bodies of Champaign/Urbana (IL), the Ansar Shrine (IL), Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees, Charter President of the Illini High Twelve in Champaign-Urbana (IL), and a Fellow of the Missouri Lodge of Research.  He is a charter member of a new Illinois Royal Arch Chapter, Admiration Chapter U.D.  He was named the 2014 Illinois Secretary of the Year Award by the Illinois Masonic Secretaries Association.  You can contact him at:

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