Lodge history in a jar

The recent closure of the Kerang Masonic Lodge and the planned sale of the historic Victoria Street masonic centre has led to the discovery of a sealed time capsule with records of a bygone era.

The 129-year-old lodge's warrant was relinquished to Freemasons Victoria on December 6 last year after dwindling membership prompted the remaining members to disband and to join brethren in neighbouring lodges.

The removal of freemasons paraphernalia, equipment and fittings is proceeding in preparation for the sale of the century-old building.

One of the tasks this week involved the use of considerable manpower to remove the foundation stone that was laid by Worshipful Master Harry Gray on January 23, 2013.

The lodge's final secretary, Scott Strachan engaged the services of a couple of workmates when he failed to budge the polished granite foundation stone.

The ultimate removal after a two and a half-hour operation revealed that the granite was about 40 centimetres deep and filled the entire wall cavity on what was then the north-east corner of the building in accordance with freemasons custom.

The stonemason's craft not only enabled a glass jar with historic documents to be hidden, but the use of a copper cover, a cork lid sealed with wax and charcoal placed on top prevented moisture from encroaching into the jar.

Outgoing lodge master, Trevor Wilkinson used a pocket knife to break the seal.Inside was a copy of the lodge by-laws, printed in 1903, a list of members, a collection of 1910 and 1911 coins, a copy of the ceremony associated with laying the foundation stone, a copy of the Kerang Observer newspaper and a written account of the growth of the Kerang Lodge, number 100 of Ancient and Accepted Masons of Victoria, and the decision to build a new centre.

Lodge members met for many years in the Mechanics' Institute, until expanding membership led to the construction of the Victoria Street building."The Lodge Room in which the Lodge has been meeting is not large enough for the convenient carrying out of our ceremonies," it was stated in the greetings document.

Also written was, "Long may this record lie undisturbed! May many generations of brethren here assemble before it is again is brought to the light of the day."

Mr Wilkinson said that the time capsule discovery was an exciting find."We believed that there was probably something in there," he said.

"It's a great bit of history."

The time capsule and contents, the foundation stone and a war memorial plaque have all been given to Kerang Historical Society for future display.

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