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Freemasonry in Highland County: Celebrating the Centennial in 1917

Lead Summary
Steve Roush-
Ladies and gentlemen, in our last confabulation, we spoke of how the Freemasons of Highland Lodge No. 38 spent $30,000 in 1916-17 – which would be worth approximately $700,000 today – to renovate the Temple that still stands at the corner of North High Street and Beech Street in uptown Hillsboro.

The renovation was completed just in time for the Highland Lodge to hold its Centennial celebration on Thursday and Friday, Oct. 4-5, 1917.

Speaking of celebrations, let’s mention one final time that there will be a 200th Reconsecration Ceremony on Saturday, May 4 from 9 a.m. until noon at the Temple. Any Mason who would like to attend the 200th Reconsecration Ceremony by the Grand Lodge of Ohio is welcome to attend. Now, let’s get back to 1917’s Centennial.

In the centennial publication, “History of Highland Lodge No. 38 F&AM Hillsboro, Ohio 1817-1917,” George L. Garrett, who was appointed historian for the book, wrote, “The centennial of the Blue Lodge was celebrated on Thursday and Friday, October 4 and 5, 1917. This not only was a most pleasant and important occasion to Masons, but also was enjoyed thoroughly by many other people. On Thursday night, the Master’s Degree was exemplified by the local Lodge. The officers excelled at all their previous efforts in the work that night, and the several hundred members present will long remember with delight the impressive ceremony. Masons were here from all the surrounding towns, the Masters of seven other Lodges being present. Following the work, short talks were made by a number of the visitors.”

The next day, it was time for a parade – several parades, in fact.

“Early Friday, Masons and their families began to come to Hillsboro from every direction,” Garrett recounted. “Shortly before 10 o’clock, the brothers assembled at the New Temple, formed a procession and escorted by the Knights Templar of Highland Commandery No. 31, marched to Elm Street. Here they met a special traction car which brought the Shrine Band of Cincinnati. The band led the procession to the B&O Depot to meet the Grand Master and Grand Lodge Officers.”

Many of us have seen old photos of traction cars coming through Hillsboro, but imagine what it would be like to actually see the traction cars, the trains and old depot, along with cars of that time period and the horses and buggies, in person.

But I digress. Let’s get back to 1917’s Centennial celebration. At the B&O Depot in Hillsboro, Garrett writes, “The parade was again formed and marched to the Temple. Here they were met by the members of Co. D, First Ohio Infantry, who had been mobilized here for the war with Germany. A beautiful American flag was raised by them on the Temple while the band played ‘The Star-Spangled Banner.’ The members then repaired to the Lodge Room, where the Grand Lodge Officers performed the solemn and impressive ceremonies of dedication of the building to the high purposes for which the Order stands.”

At lunchtime, the folks in attendance had lunch, but we’ll let Brother Garrett discuss it much more eloquently: “At noon a delicious lunch was served by the ladies in Bell’s Hall. Here everyone had a good time. The ladies had made such bountiful provision that they were able to serve the members of the band and all visiting Masons and their families again in the evening.”

I bet it was quite the feast.

After the meal was over, you guessed it, ladies and gentlemen, it was time for another parade. “At one-thirty in the afternoon, the Masons assembled at the Temple,” Garrett wrote. “The parade was formed and after a short march went to the courthouse lawn where the following program was given: Address of Welcome – Granville Barrere, Master of Lodge; Address – M.W. Grand Master, Joel C. Clore, 33-degree Mason; Address – ‘Some Interesting Facts about Highland Lodge,’ Bro. George L. Garrett.”

Garrett mentioned that several other short addresses were given, and following the program an informal reception for the general public was held at the Temple. In the evening, a brilliant reception and ball for Masons and their ladies was given. The rooms were beautifully and artistically decorated, and the music furnished by the Shrine Orchestra was excellent, Garrett said.

Let’s pause for now, and we’ll continue next week.

Steve Roush is vice chairman of the Highland County Historical Society Board of Trustees, a vice president of an international media company and a columnist and contributing writer for The Highland County Press. He can be reached by email at

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