Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Grand Lodge Welcomes YOU

Photo Courtesy of Terry Pappas 
This 1906 photo of Cherokee Street looking west from the railroad tracks shows a greeting sign of a different kind where the Homeseekers' Paradise structure now stands.

The placard on the left appears to read: Erected by the Citizen of Brookhaven (?Complimentary to?) the Grand Lodge.  The right hand placard is a bit more difficult to make out.  The top lines read: McCormick and Thompson Contractors.  Underneath are last names and initials that are hard to discern. I think I see the name Perkins, but I could be mistaken.  

For those who may not be familiar with the symbols on the upper portion of the sign -- to the left is the Freemasonry compass and square; in the middle is the Shriners' symbol composed of a scimitar, crescent and five-pointed star,  and to the far right is the cross and crown of Knights Templar.

Note the Storm and Sons on the building to the left, which was designed by Capt. A.E. Moreton and built by contractors Moreton and Swan in 1867.  The A.C. Seavey & Sons building was later home to the old Woolworth's five and dime.  Further down the block on the left side is the old three-story Masonic Hall, also designed by A.E. Moreton.

On the right side is the Bank of Brookhaven (est. Dec. 21, 1900) building. Today there stands a mid-1970s orange brick box that is Trustmark National Bank.  Next to it is the Brady Building (pronounced Braddy), which many of us knew as Mr. John Williams' Art Studio.

It is worth noting that Capt. Moreton, an architect who hailed from Baltimore, was "very active in Masonic circles," according to Moreton's descendant, Mr. William F. Crawford, in an interview on file at the local library.

"When he left to go to war in 1861, he joined the Masonic Lodge by special dispensation on the eve of his enlistment in the army.  At the time of his death, he was the oldest active Mason in the State of Mississippi in point of membership.  He occupied at various times various chairs in the lodge and was a member of higher Masonic bodies like the Shrine and the Knights Templar.

"In his 90th year he was presented with the Past Master's Jewel, suitably commemorating his 64th year as a member of the order.  At that time, it was a record.  He was also a member of the Methodist Church and was a trustee of the local church for many years."

More about Capt. Moreton, who left an indelible mark on the town and the region, in a subsequent post.

This masonry sign was replaced by the iron and electric lights of the Homeseekers' Paradise sign in 1915.  That greeting was erected to salute the Liberty Bell as it made its way from the San Francisco World's Fair back home to Philadelphia via the railroad.

(A special thank you to Terry Pappas for granting permission to use this photo, and additional thanks go to Marti Parker for acting as liaison.)

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