Masons set ceremony for lodge

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— For some, the work of the Masons may seem closed off to mainstream society, but the traditionally concealed philanthropic organization has had a long history of assisting communities and establishing patriotic and dignified citizens.

The Blue Lodge in Steamboat Springs has proved to be an example of that during its 97 years of existence, members said.

"The Masons select good men and make them better men," said Ronnie Ellis, a 28-year member of Steamboat's lodge. "It's the best organization I've ever been a part of." Ellis said the Mason fraternity has basically remained the same over the years.

But while Masonic lodges have maintained their traditional ways, the role of freemasonry has changed.

Ellis said the function of the lodge held a more prominent place in Steamboat in the early days, serving as a place for organizing and discussion among the people of the town. He said he thinks that overall involvement is declining as fewer people from younger generations seem to take an interest.

Local Mason Dave Moran said the Masonic lodges are less underground than they used to be, which helps encourage new members.

The Masons raise millions of dollars every year to give to charity. The Shriner's hospital, Women's Order of Eastern Starr and local education scholarships include the fund-raising charities of the Masons.

Steamboat residents will have an opportunity to gain knowledge about the Masons and their work during a ceremony at 11 a.m. Saturday at the local lodge, Eighth and Lincoln. The Grand Lodge of Denver will present the Blue Lodge of Steamboat with a plaque designating the building as a historical site.

The Masonic Lodge was built in 1919 as First National Bank. Local legend Carl Howelsen assisted in the construction of the stone masonry work on the building.

Included in the dedication ceremony will be a presentation of 50-year pins to members of Steamboat's lodge.

"The dedication is a good opportunity for the people, who don't know much about us, to come and see what we're about," Moran said.

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