A Midnight Freemasons Road Trip

by Midnight Freemasons Founder
Todd E. Creason, 33°
left to right: Senior Warden Greg Knott, Katie Creason, Junior Warden Darin Lahners, and WM Todd E. Creason
We’ve been talking for some time about the possibility of starting a Masonic Library at our Lodge—Homer Lodge No. 199 (IL).  Our Lodge over the last several years has gained a reputation as a Lodge that puts a particular focus on education.  We even have a museum room in our Lodge, so a library seemed the next reasonable step. 

The focus on education is what saved our Lodge.  Homer Lodge was chartered in 1856, and our building was built in 1892, but in 2011 we about closed it.  The building needed an enormous amount of work, including a new roof, and there just weren’t many members left to help.  In fact, we had a difficult time getting enough members at our regular meetings to open. 

Fortunately, since the Lodge had nothing to lose but closing, we were able to try a few things to save it, and one of those things was to improve the meeting experience, and put a major focus on providing good quality education at every meeting.  Our thought was that eventually, Masons from other Lodges might come to our monthly programs.  We also hoped that a few might join our Lodge as dual members as well. 

Here it is six years later, and the Lodge is beginning to see results.  We’ve got a new roof, and a new mission.  The entire Lodge has been cleaned and restored inside and out (less a little more work to do on one exterior wall).  It is certainly one of the grandest Lodges in our area—the Lodge room itself is around 2,500 square feet with towering ceilings.  We even turned what was once a room full of junk into a museum, where we’ve displayed many of the artifacts from our long history we found stored in the attic.  In addition to that, there’s a new Royal Arch Chapter that has been formed, Admiration Chapter No. 282, with the same focus on education as the Lodge.  The building is in use constantly.  It’s been used by other local Lodges, the Knight Masons, the Allied Masonic Degrees, the Illinois Lodge of Research, the Shriners.  Masonry has returned to Homer, IL in a big way.  The Officers of the Grand Lodge of Illinois A. F. & A. M. even came and rededicated the Lodge two years ago. 

So we began talking about a library.  As you know, books are expensive, and books on Freemasonry can be very expensive.  We had just started talking about how we might finance a library, when I got a call—an email actually.  It was from Noel C. Dicks, who was the Grand Master of Illinois when I became a Mason.   He wanted to know if we’d ever thought about starting a library at Homer Lodge, because he knew a Mason, WB Bill Henry, that was looking to make some room in his basement by getting rid of a bunch of books he’d collected over the years on Freemasonry. 

Sometime it happens that way!

left to right: Darin Lahners, Todd E. Creason, Greg Knott, and library donor WB Bill Henry
Shortly before Christmas, three Midnight Freemasons, who also happen to be the three principle officers of Homer Lodge No. 199, went on a road trip to pick up a load of books—over 70 volumes.  It was an incredibly generous donation.  Bill Henry’s collection will form the core of our new library that will be enjoyed by members of Homer Lodge for generations to come.  And we plan to continue to add to our collection with the hopes that our library will become a place where new members and old can come and enhance their knowledge of our beloved Craft.

Saving a Lodge is a lot of work, but as I’ve said before, once the light of Masonry goes out, it never returns.  Sometimes it’s worth the hard work and effort to preserve that heritage at all costs.  And I’ll give you one good reason why.   

We have a young Fellow Craft that is about to be raised a Master Mason.  He wanted to join our Lodge in particular—it was a family tradition he wanted to bring back.  When I gave him the tour of the building before he petitioned, he found photographs of his great grandparents hanging on the wall in our museum—both involved in an Eastern Star Chapter that met at Homer Lodge many years ago.   
If Freemasonry changes that young man's life in the same positive way it has changed the lives of many of my Brothers, every drop of sweat has been worth it.


For your added enjoyment, here's an episode of "Masonic Curators" that featured Homer Lodge No. 199 presented by Senior Warden (and Midnight Freemason Senior Contributor) Greg Knott.

Todd E. Creason, 33° is the Founder of the Midnight Freemasons blog and is a regular contributor.  He is the award winning 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 the Worshipful Master of Homer Lodge No. 199 and a Past Master of Ogden Lodge No. 754.  He is a Past Sovereign Master of the Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees.  He is a Fellow at the Missouri Lodge of Research. (FMLR) and a charter member of a new Illinois Royal Arch Chapter, Admiration Chapter No. 282.  You can contact him at: webmaster@toddcreason.org

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