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Freemasonry in Highland County: Renovating the Lodge

Lead Summary
Steve Roush-
Ladies and gentlemen, in our last confabulation, we spoke of how the Freemasons of Highland Lodge No. 38 erected a Temple in the 1870s that still stands at the corner of North High Street and Beech Street in uptown Hillsboro.

However, the venerable edifice doesn’t look quite the same as it did back when it was first built.

Speaking of the home of Highland Lodge No. 38 of Free and Accepted Masons, let’s mention one more 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.

A little more than 100 years ago, and roughly four decades after it was constructed, members of the Lodge decided to renovate the Masonic Temple.

Back in 1978, the centennial publication, “History of Highland Lodge No. 38 F&AM Hillsboro, Ohio 1817-1917” was reissued with an addition compiled by Ivor Jones, who was Worshipful Master of the Lodge that year.

Brother Jones wrote about the decision to upgrade the old Lodge, saying, “The following committee, from the four Hillsboro Masonic Bodies, was appointed in the summer of 1916 to improve and remodel the ‘Old Masonic Temple’ and make it one of the most modern and well-equipped Masonic edifices in the state of Ohio: Brothers C.M. Kerns, C.F. Huggins, O.N. Sams, Dick Rockhold, John Matthews, Howard Sewell, Joseph List, Stanley Rogers and Granville Barrere.”

As an aside, I’ve always wondered why a lot of folks back in the 1800s and early 1900s chose to be identified by their initials instead of their first names. I know my great-great-grandfather, Wesley T. Roush (1848-1926), went by W.T. Roush, and the fellow I wrote about at length earlier this year went by C.S. Bell (1829-1905) rather than Charles Singleton Bell. If anyone out there knows why this trend became popular, I’m all ears.

But I digress.

Let’s get back to the remodeling of the Temple. The remodeling project began in 1916 and was completed in the fall of 1917 at the cost of around $30,000.

If you’ve read my offerings for any length of time, a lot of times when I throw out a monetary figure in these history pieces, I like to compare how much that would cost in today’s dollars, so let’s go ahead and do it again here.

According to the U.S. Inflation Calculator, if someone purchased an item or spent $30,000 in 1916, then in 2019, the same item or expenditure would be $699,638.58. I would consider that a pretty major capital project campaign.

The renovation was completed just in time for the Lodge to celebrate its Centennial, and the Temple was rededicated.

As we noted in an earlier offering, the Lodge received its received its dispensation in 1817, then received its charter in 1819. A century ago, the Lodge chose to observe its Centennial in 1917, and much more recently it was decided the Bicentennial would be observed in 2019, 200 years after the Lodge obtained its charter.

The Centennial celebration was held on Thursday and Friday, Oct. 4-5, 1917, with Granville Barrere, longtime publisher, editor and proprietor of the Hillsboro News-Herald, serving as Master of the Lodge that year.

We’ll take a little time to revisit that Centennial celebration in uptown Hillsboro more than a century ago, but 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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