After 129 years of meeting in Cootamundra, the Cootamundra Masonic Lodge held its last ever meeting on last Thursday night, November 21, at its Cooper Street building.
Unfortunately declining membership and increased costs have forced the difficult decision to sell the building and the members to consolidate with the Masonic Lodge at Harden.
Lodge Cootamundra St John No 124 was established in 1884 under the Scottish Constitution and in 1888 joined with other constitutions to form the United Grand Lodge of New South Wales.
The first stage of the Cooper Street building was erected in 1890 with extensions in 1910, 1939 and in the 1950s bringing it up to its present appearance. The building is unique in that there are three foundation stones which are visible today.
The building is being purchased by Steven and Kylie Franklin. They have lived in Cootamundra with their two daughters, Elena and Talia, for just over two years.
Steve and Kylie have said that they feel privileged to take over the responsibility of such an historic Cootamundra building.
The future usage of the building will be as a venue for Kylie to work as an Accredited Exercise Physiologist. The premises will also be accessible for other businesses and community events.
Steve and Kylie are looking forward to starting a new chapter for the Masonic building.
Present Master of Lodge Cootamundra St John, Mr Brian Morgan while expressing his sadness at the necessity of the move to sell the building said that the members and former members of the Lodge should be very proud of the history of Freemasonry in Cootamundra.
The Lodge had survived two World Wars and had still been able to sustain a membership of upwards of 218 at one time. It had also assisted many organisations in the community over the years with charitable donations, the most recent of which was a $5,000 donation to the Nursing Home following a successful art exhibition.
Mr Morgan was also proud that many young ladies were able to be debutantes at the many Masonic Balls held over the years.
Over the last 129 years there have been many distinguished residents of the Cootamundra district who have held the position of Master of the Lodge and Mr Morgan also paid tribute to the many years of dedicated service given to the Lodge by Mr Jim Caskie, who has held the position of secretary for more than 20 years.
Mr Caskie gave a very informative talk on the history of the Masonic Lodge in Cootamundra, mentioning the first place for meetings in Cootamundra in 1884 was at the rear of the existing Carpet Court building in Parker Street.
After a final formal meeting of the Lodge, members, wives and widows of former members were treated to a tasty meal and toasts to members for the future. The members also enjoyed the company of visitors from Canberra, Young, Temora and Yass.
The evening was rounded off with a very hearty rendition of Auld Lang Syne and Advance Australia Fair.
The consolidation of the Lodge will take place in February 2014 with some of the remaining members from Cootamundra taking up membership with Masonic Federal United Lodge at Harden from this time.