Glenwood’s Masonic Lodge is 131 years old, making it one of the oldest organizations in this region | VailDaily.com

Glenwood’s Masonic Lodge is 131 years old, making it one of the oldest organizations in this region

GLENWOOD SPRINGS — When one of the region's oldest organizations was on the ropes, a core group refused to let it go dark because, they say, it's worth it.

The Glenwood Springs Masonic Lodge is 131 years old and growing.

"We felt it was imperative to honor the tradition of commitment to brotherhood and community our forefathers invested," said Chuck Mills, who heads the Glenwood Lodge said. "If we were to turn our back on 131 years of their efforts, how could we look at ourselves and say we have done our best?"

The Glenwood Lodge gave birth to most of the other lodges in Western Colorado and the Central Rockies, back when the place still had the feel of the Wild West. When you weren't always sure whom you could trust, masons could trust each other, Mills said.

131 years of local history

The Glenwood Masons are working their way through 131 years of regional history stored in their lodge building, and are pulling it out and cataloging it. For example, W.H. Brant was the first to head the Glenwood Lodge — in 1886.

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Many of Colorado's governors and three U.S. presidents have attended the lodge in Glenwood.

The Glenwood Lodge has been a temporary home to all kinds of groups: the Salvation Army, Glenwood Springs Center for the Arts, Boy Scouts, Glenwood Springs schools, rehearsal space for the local Vaudeville troupe. Glenwood Springs Elementary School used that space when it was being remodeled.

Their current building is 91 years old. Much of the furniture and fixtures are more than 100 years old, moved from a previous building, located where the Garfield County courthouse now stands.

Masons from Glenwood laid the cornerstone at the new Glenwood elementary and the Riverview School in Garfield County.

Masons led by George McCollum installed the cornerstone in the old Eagle Valley Elementary School in Eagle. In April, Mills led the ceremony to remove it before the building was demolished.

Worldwide, masons are thought to trace their origins to the end of the 14th century. These days, masonic organizations give away more than $2 million a day to charities, mostly medical, including Shrine hospitals, diabetes work, Scottish Rite leaning centers and medical centers, museums both regional and national … the list is long and far-reaching, and does not include scholarships from local lodges.

"We have to make as big a difference as we can in the lives of people who need it," Mills said.

Masons generally come from all professions and perspectives, and make it a point to treat each other with respect and friendship — a respite in these tumultuous times.

"In the current state of affairs, we feel our craft is necessary for those core tenets," Mills said.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vaildaily.com.

For more information

For information about the Glenwood Springs Masonic Lodge or other Masonic organizations, go to http://www.gwsfreemasons.com.