Fairfield Masons mark 250th anniversary of local lodge
With pomp and circumstance, Fidelity-St. John's Lodge of the Grand Lodge of Free Masons of Connecticut was rededicated Saturday, marking the 250th anniversary of the lodge's first meeting.
The event was attended by past and present lodge officers, members and their families, as well as Selectman James Walsh and Fairfield Museum & History Center Executive Director Michael Jehle.
The lodge members presented a $3,500 to Jehle, which will help fund renovations of the museum's historic Sun Tavern property.
The ceremony took place at the Masonic Lodge's temple at 131 Beach Road.
"The first meeting of Lodge No. 3 was February 1762," said Phil Roberts, a past lodge master. "The original lodge was located on John Street in Bridgeport, then in the old Beverly Theater building in Black Rock. This building was erected in 1950 as the home of Fidelity Lodge No. 134, St. John's No. 3 and Lafayette No. 141."
Roberts said the history of the lodge has been colorful, with past members that have included Charles Stratton (better known as Tom Thumb), David Wheeler, Jonathan Bulkeley, Lambert Lockwood and other notable Fairfielders.
As to the donation to Fairfield Museum, Chris Jennings, the worshipful master of Lodge No. 3, explained, "We have a number of history buffs in the lodge and our lodge met at the tavern back in 1809, so it's a part of our lore. It is also rumored that George Washington stayed there, and he was an eminent Mason."
Leading the proceedings Saturday was Most Worshipful Master James McWain, who said at the outset, "This is a momentous occasion. There are not many lodges that are older than 250 years old. It is a pleasure and privilege to rededicate it."
McWain guided lodge officers in a procession and rededication of a symbolic representation of the lodge in the center of the main sanctuary. Candles, wine, oil and corn were all used during the ceremony, each icon carrying a symbolic meaning. Tools of the Mason trade were also displayed.
Participating officers were dressed in black suits and adorned with Mason's aprons and medallions.
"Many think the society is secret," said McWain, "but the only secret is how we identify ourselves to each other."
Walsh, a stand-in for First Selectman Michael Tetreau, expressed gratitude for the organization's good works. "On behalf of the town, I congratulate you on this rededication and your support of the Sun Tavern," he said.
Among the Masons' statewide charitable endeavors are funds for the care of the elderly and children's hospitals.
Mike Lauterborn is a freelance writer.