Masons lay cornerstone

Published 4:44 pm Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Less than a year ago a devastating fire destroyed the approximately 87-year-old home of the Sherrard Byrd Lodge Masonic Lodge No. 353.

On Saturday, members of the lodge dedicated the cornerstone of their new building to be located on Jacobs Road past Poplarville High School. Construction of the one-story building is expected to take approximately three months, once again giving the Poplarville Masons a local home.

“I am very proud that we are started on it,” said Howard Ladner, Master of the Poplarville lodge. “We’ve had little setbacks all along but we’re beginning to make progress.”

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In the interim, the lodge has been holding their meetings at the Masonic Lodge in Carriere, Ladner said.

“They’ve made great progress in their building this building here,” said Jimmie Windham, Grand Master of Mississippi Masons from Hattiesburg, who led the ceremony. “What we’re doing here today is laying the cornerstone.”

The cornerstone came from the original building on Main Street in downtown, slightly chipped from handling at the time of the fire. The cause of the fire was suspected to be electrical, but an investigation by the state fire marshal was unable to clearly determine the fire’s point of origin, city fire officials said.

That fire also destroyed the specialty store, The Other Side, and the Kloze Klozet Too at the south end of the block. Both businesses have since relocated to other Poplarville locations.

Windham said most of the reconstruction effort has been done locally. The main thing done at the state level was granting the local lodge permission to build outside the city limits of Poplarville. The new lodge will be a one-story structure, built to specifications approved by the Masonic Grand Lodge, Windham said.

Funding for the new lodge is well in hand, Ladner said. The Poplarville lodge had owned the site next door where the old Western Auto store was located and they had built up a reserve fund from rent. Also, funds from the Katrina insurance settlement had been added, he said.

Historically, Masons have been laying cornerstones “forever,” Windham said, noting that George Washington, a Mason, laid the cornerstone of the United States Capital in Washington.

There will be another cornerstone ceremony in the county for a new lodge to be built in Steephollow not far from the Steephollow Baptist Church on Mississippi 53, he said.