Bethany J. Royer
Editor’s note: This is part one of a continuing series on the Warren Masonic Lodge no. 24, which, in conjunction with the Grand Lodge of Ohio and the Piqua City Schools, will be holding a dedication ceremony for the three new elementary schools at 2 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 7.
PIQUA - Not since 1999, upon completion of the new Piqua Junior High School building, has the Warren Masonic Lodge no. 24 held a dedication ceremony for a new public building. Members began preparations some time ago for the Sunday, Sept. 7, ceremony for the three new elementary schools to be held at Springcreek Elementary, given it will be the first of the schools to be completed.
What’s in store?
“What we are in the process of doing is a cornerstone dedication ceremony,” explained Stu Shear, who hold many titles with the lodge including Worshipful Past Master, treasurer and trustee. He was joined by Dixson Clement, lodge historian and a Worshipful Past Master, too, in April, on what they hope will be a historic occasion, not only for the hosting Lodge and contributing school students and faculty, but with the inclusion of the Knights Templar, local dignitaries and more for this momentous event. One not seen in quite some time not only in the immediate area but on a state level.
“It’s a really big deal,” said Clement, who wasn’t aware of any other site in the state of Ohio with a three-building dedication. The Warren Masonic Lodge no. 24, a part of the community for nearly 200 years, has held cornerstone ceremonies for the post office (near to celebrating 100 years at the time of this interview) and the Piqua High School and Junior High School, but never for three buildings at one time.
The cornerstone ceremony holds historical significance for both Mason members and the community, but is a tradition only the sacred organization can claim. In fact, there are a hundreds of notable names tied to the Masons including first president of the United States George Washington, who set the cornerstone of the Capitol Building in 1793 A.D. Other members of significance include Benjamin Franklin; Paul Revere; Samuel Colt; former presidents Gerald Ford and Franklin D. Roosevelt; David (Davy) Crockett; astronauts Edwin E. “Buzz” Aldrin and first man to walk on the moon, Neil Armstrong; author Sir Conan Doyle; actor Clark Gable; automaker Henry Ford; and scholar W.E.B. DuBois.
According to Dixson, the cornerstone ceremonies are “traditional and the proper way to do things, a lot of propriety to it.” And the September ceremony is the perfect opportunity after 15 years to “awaken the community on how big of a deal it is and what it is all about.”
The cornerstone-laying dedication by Warren Masonic Lodge no. 24 for the post office in 1914 was one of great and grand importance in the Piqua community. The ceremony welcomed hundreds of Masons, church members and council members, the Piqua Board of Education and school library employees, officers of the city of Piqua, rural and city carriers for the post office, among others. The Piqua City Band held a concert and a parade came down North Main Street.
In 1979, the Lodge honored Col. John Johnston with a bronze marker at the Johnston Farm location, followed by the Piqua High School cornerstone dedication in 1980, and the junior high in 1999.
The ritual blesses the cornerstone of a new public building with a symbolic squaring, and leveling and plumbing of the cornerstone. The blessing itself includes the pouring of corn as a symbol of health and heartiness of the workers, the pouring of wine for plenty, and oil for peace and joy.
Bethany J. Royer may be reached at (937) 773-2721 or on Twitter @TheDailyCall