Historical Society dedicates Masonic arch
The dedication Saturday morning of the granite archway that once graced the entrance to Truckee’s Masonic Lodge No. 200 attracted a modest gathering at the Old Historic Jail museum on Truckee’s Jibboom Street.
Fourteen years after a propane explosion ripped the lodge apart, the 23-stone entry arch has been erected on a spot just a short walk away from its original location on Commercial Row.
Visitors now can enter the Community Memorial Garden behind the jail museum by passing through the white stone archway.
As Masonic Lodge Master Gary Miner prepared to deliver remarks commemorating the occasion, the sound of a freight train’s whistle punctuated the silence. The sound evoked the time a century ago when the Masons built the Truckee lodge.
“The Freemasons are builders of not only material things, but of character and morality,” Miner said about the lodge’s gift to the community and the Tahoe Donner Historical Society. “I therefore dedicate this arch to truth, equality and freedom.”
Among those offering comment during the brief ceremony was Joe Aguera, who with fellow Mason Don Willoughby, oversaw the restoration project. Aguera said he’d heard stories how the late Kelly Shane had stored the stones following the 1993 explosion that destroyed the brick-and-mortar Masonic Lodge, built in 1909 and opened in 1910.
“That’s a bit of history that should be part of the town,” Aguera said the men agreed once they located the granite blocks.
Truckee Mayor Richard Anderson said he found the archway’s reconstruction “moving and symbolic.”
“This harkens back to Truckee’s earliest days, first as an outpost and then as a town where community is what we’re all about,” Anderson said.
In accepting stewardship of the Masonic Lodge arch, historical society President Judy Dunlap said she was honored by the Masons’ choice of the society to host the artifact from an earlier era.
“I’m delighted we could provide a place for this arch,” Dunlap said. “We love Truckee history, we love this museum, and want to share it with the community.”
It was left to society historian Gordon Richards to offer a key piece of scholarship to the occasion.
Relying on newspaper accounts of the day, he “gently and carefully” corrected the published date of the Masonic Lodge construction. Previous accounts gave various years, and some Masons believed the building was completed in 1904.
“The spirits of Truckee are with us today,” Richards said at the brief ceremony’s conclusion.
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