A time of Renewal: A New Building for Lodge Picton
20 December 23
For the best part of a century, the Picton Masonic Centre enjoyed a commercially advantageous location adjacent to the Shire Council Chambers in the business centre of Picton. Five years ago the local council showed an interest in acquiring the masonic property to enable the construction of an extensive Performing Arts Precinct. An agreement in principle was reached. After several years of ongoing negotiation and construction, the members of Lodge Picton No. 258 are now the proud owners of the new Picton Masonic and Conference Centre in a prominent location towards the southern end of town.
With the building ready for occupation, on Friday 24th November 2023 the celebrations commenced with a Civic Reception to showcase the facility to prominent community members and acknowledge the contribution made by the council, contractors and suppliers. Small-group tours of the building enlightened many participants about our purpose, dispelling the myth of the secret society.
The following day was the time for masonic celebration commencing in mid-afternoon with a Ceremony for the Dedication of a Lodge Room conducted by the Grand Ceremonial Team led by the Grand Master, Most Worshipful Brother Leslie Hicks. On this occasion, the Grand Master was accompanied by the Deputy Grand Master RW Bro Khristian Albano and the Assistant Grand Master RW Bro Paul Schulz. It is quite uncommon to have these three Grand Lodge Officers attending a masonic event together. For many of the Brethren, it was the first opportunity to witness a dedication ceremony and learn the relevance and the symbolism of corn, wine, oil and salt.
Following the dedication ceremony, the Grand Master unveiled the foundation stone, assisted by the Worshipful Master. This proved to be the ideal opportunity for a photo with ninety-eight-year-old Lodge Picton Trustee, VW Bro Colin Miller, whose father built the old Masonic Centre in 1935. A short time later the Grand Master presented VW Bo Miller with his 75-year Jewel.
The work for the inaugural meeting in the new lodge room was a Past Masters’ Night to raise Bro John Perugini to the Sublime Degree of a Master Mason. The Worshipful Master of Lodge Picton, Wor Bro Steve Thompson opened the lodge and extended a warm welcome to visitors. As our planned Past Master Wor Bro David Stimson was in hospital, on short notice VW Bro Brad Scotcher of Lodge Nowra United occupied the Chair of King Solomon to lead the Past Masters in what was widely held to be an unforgettable night of excellence in masonic ritual. Before retiring from the lodge room, The Grand Master presented Long Service Certificates and Jewels to Wor Bro Josh Muller (40y), Bro Don Burge(50y), VW Bro Garry Funnell (50y) and Bro Kevin Cheetham (60y) and Wor Bro Matthew Donnachie (60y). RW Bro Bill Beattie was presented with the Grandmaster’s Distinguished Service Jewel in recognition of his contribution to Freemasonry.
The celebratory banquet was enjoyed by almost a hundred masons and partners who had honoured Lodge Picton by attending the dedication and inaugural meeting celebration. When responding to the Loyal Toast, the Grand Master commented on the challenges lodges faced with the many costs of owning premises. These costs must be offset in a realistic and often demanding business plan.
All our existing tenants have chosen to continue in the new premises. Negotiations are in progress with several prospective tenants. The very name of Lodge Picton’s new premises, Lodge Picton Masonic and Conference Centre, is not only an advertisement for its presence as a community resource, but will also allow the name of Freemasonry to be more prominent in the greater community.
Sunday at the new premises was a very much relaxed day. Advertised as an Open Day in print and social media, many locals availed themselves of the opportunity to check out the new and ‘unknown building’ they had seen in the lead-up and construction phase for well over a year. Small-group tours of the lodge room led to many questions and no doubt an enlightened understanding of Freemasonry.
VW Bro Garry Funnell
Photo Credits to RW Bro Romy Neito and VW Bro Alan Gale