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Freemasonry in Highland County: The storm after the Centennial

Lead Summary
Steve Roush-
Ladies and gentlemen, in our last confabulation, the topic of conversation was of the Centennial Celebration of Highland Lodge No. 38 of Free and Accepted Masons, which was held Thursday and Friday, Oct. 4-5, 1917, not long after the Temple at the corner of North High Street and Beech Street in uptown Hillsboro had undergone a $30,000 makeover – which would equate to about $700,000 today.

As you probably recall in that offering, a grand time was had by all during that historic event, but it didn’t take too long for the celebration to come to a somber end.

In a 1978 update to the “History of Highland Lodge No. 38 F&AM Hillsboro, Ohio 1817-1917” publication, Ivor Jones, who was Master of the Lodge that year, wrote that as the autumn of 1917 turned to winter, the weather turned brutal.

“The heavy snow which fell, and lasted for many weeks, during the winter of 1917-1918 caused the roof to sag and finally gave way under terrible weight leaving the newly remodeled Masonic Temple water-soaked,” Jones wrote. “The insurance didn’t pay for the tremendous loss suffered by the Masonic Bodies of Hillsboro as it was deemed an ‘Act of God.’”

Well, ain’t that a kick in the head? Nearly two years of renovation, and close to $700,000 spent in today’s dollars, and now this…

As a result, “Highland Lodge, and the other Hillsboro Masonic Bodies, staggered during the 1920 to 1938 period of heavy indebtedness, and could have lost the Temple during the Depression of the early thirties had the following Brothers, Perry M. McCoppin, Walter Doggett, C.N. Winkle and others not rented most of the first floor to the U.S. Government for the Hillsboro Post Office. The old Post Office Building on North High Street across from the Masonic Lodge was destroyed by fire in the late twenties.”

With the Post Office now located on the first floor of the Temple, the Lodge forged on, but as the 1930s drew to a close, another war was right around the corner.

“Most of the line officers of Highland Lodge No. 38 were called to serve their country during World War II,” Jones wrote. “Their stations were filled by the faithful Past Masters of the Lodge during that period. They resumed their stations after returning from the service of their country.”

The membership of Highland Lodge was between 250 and 300 from 1945-1967, when the Lodge celebrated its sesquicentennial.

And now a little more than a half century later, the Freemasons of Highland Lodge No. 38 celebrated a 200th Reconsecration Ceremony and reception this past Saturday at the Temple.

Like a century ago, a grand time was had by all in attendance at the Masonic Temple on May 4, 2019 – but let’s just hope it doesn’t snow again like it did back in the winter of 1917-18!

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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