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From New England Craftsman, Vol. IX, No. 2, November 1913, Page 50:

A Notable Masonic Banquet

Pittsfield Masonic Temple

The Masons of Pittsfield, Mass., are building a Temple for the use of the Masonic bodies in that city that will rank with the largest and best arranged in the State. The building is sufficiently advanced to allow its use for a mass meeting or for a big banquet such as was given Friday evening, October 24th. The purpose of the meeting was to raise money needed for completion of the edifice. Brother Harry D. Sisson, ex-mayor of the city presided and was the leading spirit of the occasion. It was an evening of the utmost enthusiasm and highly satisfactory results. For nearly three hours and a half, enthusiasm over the new building knew no bounds and with songs, cheers and shouts the brethren showed that they were back of the project with heart and soul to give sufficient financial support to have the temple completed entirely by February.

Such a gathering of Masons has never before been seen in Pittsfield As one of the speakers expressed it it was one of the biggest get-together meetings that has been held in this city in a long time. And it was not only in noisy demonstration that thosi present showed their loyalty. When it came time to ask for contributions there was a ready response fron different sections of the hall and such shouts as "Double my subscription," "I'll give fifty, etc." As a result about one-quarter of the $20,000 needed was subscribed.

HarryDSisson.jpg HarlandHBallard.jpg
Harry D. Sisson; Harlan H. Ballard

Two of the brethren who are most prominent in raising money for the new Temple are Harry D. Sisson, chairman of the subscription committee and Harlan H. Ballard, president of the Pittsfield Masonic Association. Both of these brothers have done splendid work promoting interest in the new Temple.

Long before 7.30, the appointed time for the supper, the brethren began to arrive at the temple and in spite of the pouring rain they came just the same and the big assembly hall which had been set with many tables, was practically full when Chairman Sisson gave the word to find seats. That was at 7.45. Charles E. Bennett offered prayer.

The past Matrons and present officers of Collina Chapter Order of the Eastern Star had charge of the tables with assistants chosen from the chapter membership. Each table matron Provided her own dishes, silverware, napkins and decorations.

These sixty women were given a rousing cheer for their work.

After cigars were passed around and lighted Mr. Sisson announced that Onward, Christian Soldiers would be sung. With Philip Goewey at the piano and L. K. Willis, J. P. Fryer and several other hearty voices leading, the hymn was rendered with vigor. Then Mr. Ballard, the president of the Pittsfield Masonic association was introduced.

His first words were "How did it seem as you came along South Street to see the light gleaming forth from the temple?" Then he went on to explain that Masons are builders. It is for them to build up and construct and not to tear down. They build a temple in which to worship God. They build character and they build society.

Free Masons are free builders. They build temples not under a lash, but as free men and with a desire to build them with the love of God in their hearts. The characters they build is free. It is the rule of the spirit in the heart of man. Every man in the lodge has a free voice in the meetings. His choice of religion is free. Any man who trusts in God may become a Mason. This spirit of freedom is spreading. I have wondered time and again at the patience with which you have stood the work we old fogies have done. Through the strain you have stood manfully by us. That is the supreme test. Free Masons are free builders.

A year ago one-half of the Masons said, "Don't build a temple." The cement held strong and by a unanimous vote we decided we would have a temple. The next strain on the cement, was the place for the location and that was decided unanimously. Whenever a majority would seem to go in one way, we would have a unanimous vote. When this temple is finished there isn't a man here who won't say to his children and his grandchildren, if he's blessed with them, that he was one of the givers to the temple which was erected and dedicated to the Holy Saints John.

The applause which followed Mr. Ballard's talk was tremendous.

Toastmaster Sisson gave everyone present to understand that he should feel at home in the temple. "Enter it with the full sense of the joy of ownership," was his advice, "hit shins under the table with your neighbor and take off your coat if you want to." He referred to the slogan "February or Bust," and said by February the temple should be fully completed. L. K. Willis was introduced by Mr. Sisson and he sang a very clever song entitled "There's no such thing as bust." The piece made a hit. It was original and given by Mr. Willis in a voice that could be heard all over the hall. Mr. Goewey played the accompaniment.

The toastmaster created some merriment during his remarks by saying "There is enough money represented here tonight to build these temples by the dozen and why do we quibble over one." The first speaker introduced was the Rev. Payson E. Pierce, who said he had a warm spot in his heart for the Masonic fraternity and commended the work done by the brethren. President Ballard mentioned several gifts from persons outside of their city including one from a woman whose father was a member of the Mystic Lodge. Two other generous gifts from women were also announced.

William T. Petherbridge, 33rd degree Mason, in a short talk said that he could hardly express himself on this occasion. He referred to Mr. Ballard's service as president of the association for the past twenty years. This is the result of his administration. To the younger element the older members must soon trust to the carrying on of the work. Mr. Petherbridge spoke of the work of such men as Colonel Cutting, William Chamberlain and William A. Whittlesey, who did so much for the Masonic fraternity here. "I hope they are with us tonight in spirit." In closing Mr. Petherbridge read a very humorous poem on "Opposed to Women," clipped from a Masonic paper.

Rev. E. C. Davis, the next speaker, said: "I rejoice in the building of this temple in Pittsfield. It stands for the realization among Masonic people of this city that the order still has a tremendous task to perform. Money must be the symbol of your immediate loyalty to this purpose. Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom. The work of an institution today is measured by the purpose to which it is dedicated."

Other speakers were: George H. Cooper who made a humorous but effective speech; Frank H. Cande, Carl F. Wurtzbach, District Deputy Grand Master, Frank E. Peirson and Joseph Ward Lewis.

The idea of giving this big banquet in the unfinished temple originated with Harry D. Sisson. To him belongs much praise for the complete success of the affair. It was a wonderful gathering and despite the late hour that it lasted, there were but few who left and those only when they were obliged to.

There were 525 brethren at the banquet, quite a number from out of town. The original song given by L. K. Willis and which was the cause of much enthusiasm is as follows:

Hale workers in a common cause, we greet you all tonight
To every Mason, young and old, who seeks for greater light,
Just face this question on the square, you know your cause is just
Let's build this temple good and strong, there's no such thing as Bust.

Hurrah! Hurrah! Our cause is right and just.
We'll build this temple good and strong,
There's no such thing as Bust.

The corner stone we all were taught, both low and high degree,
That Masons all in every land should dwell in harmony.
Then let each fainting heart take hope, you know your cause is just,
We'll build the temple good and strong, there's no such thing as Bust.

Then from the north and sunny south, from east and west we came,
We'll rally 'round our leaders brave, until our work is done,
Let every mother's son wake up, stop knocking, now be just,
Just do your very level best, there's no such thing as Bust.


From New England Craftsman, Vol. IX, No. 7, May 1914, Page 257:

Dedication of Masonic Temple, Pittsfield, Mass.

During the one hundred years, more or less, that Freemasonry has had a place among the moral and social forces of Pittsfield it has never stood out in such prominence as was witnessed during the ceremonies connected with the dedication of its new temple in the early days of the present month. It was the crowning event of years of toil and expectation and the happy reward of wise deliberation and loyal service in a noble undertaking. The first public exercise was on Sunday evening, May 3. in South Congregational Church. This service, like another church service at the birth of Mystic, the oldest lodge, was a happy recognition of the cordial regions of the clergy and Freemasonry that has been preserved for more than a century.

The exercises at the church were of marked interest and attracted a large audience. In addition to the interesting address the musical program was of high merit. Visiting Grand Lodge officers and their ladies occupied front pews.

It was on the invitation of Rev. Payson E. Pierce, pastor of the South Congregational Church, that the exercises were held in that edifice. He arranged the program, which lasted just one and one-half hours. Mr. Pierce is a member of Greenbush Lodge of Rensselaer, N. Y. Seated on the platform were Mr. Pierce, Grand Master Johnson, Worshipful Master Robert Bruce Donaldson, of Mystic Lodge and Worshipful Master Charles A. Acly of Crescent Lodge of Masons.

In introducing Most Worshipful Grand Master Johnson, Mr. Pierce said that he was always glad that he became a Mason. He would not like to live an isolated life, for such is not the true life. This is an age of brotherhood, and the Masonic fraternity is doing not a little to hasten a more present brotherhood. The Masonic fraternity has done a great deal to wipe out religious lines and bring about the day when every man shall call another brother. Mr. Pierce expressed gladness that the Masons saw fit to erect their magnificent temple next to the South Church, for the two have the same great purpose in view, the brotherhood of mankind.


Grand Master Johnson said in part:

"In an occasion of this kind it is well to say a word publicly as to what Masonry really is. It is not a religion, and it has no dogma save one. It has constructed a moral philosophy upon one doctrine, for none can come within our doors unless he puts his trust in the one God. That is all we ask for the foundation of our philosophy. We ask the assertion of no other dogma. When the Bible is opened a lodge-room, as it always is when lodge is in session, we ask that each member believe and love God, and believe in and love mankind. Masonry has a mission in developing not only the social side of man, but the civilization of today as a strengthening force uniting together those who found their philosophy on this doctrine. Beware of the man who would shatter the truth upon which our civilization is founded.

"I am one of those who believe in today. Conservatism carried to extremes is catalepsy, yet it is also true that radicalism carried to extremes is delirium. Tonight we are living in the oldest day the world has ever known, yet it is the youngest day that we know. There are those who delight to talk of the good old days, but the best days — the days of largest opportunity for intellectual advancement and human service — are right here and now. I believe that you and I are just a little better than our forefathers of 100 years or more ago — that we are living in a higher plane of civilization. Were I to be asked for a confession of civic faith I should say, T believe in today, which contains all there is in human joy, sympathy and grief; in today, which is for you and me and hundreds of thousands of others to make a good today, and thereby lay foundations for a far more beauteous tomorrow."

The program of Monday, May 4, which was the day of dedication, included a parade of thirteen lodges under the escort of three commanderies of Knights Templars,— Berkshire Commnndery of Pittsfield; St. Paul Commandery of North Adams, and Taft Commandery of Bennington, Vermont. The lodges were: Grand Lodge in automobiles, Mystic and Crescent of Pittsfield, Evening Star of Lee, Occidental of Stockbridge, Wisdom of West Stockbridge, Cincinnatus of Great Barrington, Globe of Hinsdale, Unity of Dalton, Upton of Cheshire, Berkshire of Adams, Greylock of North Adams, Lafayette of North Adams, and Williams of Williamstown.

Many flags were flying from flag Poles and in front of the buildings along North Street for the paraders.

William M. Farrington was in charge of the parade as the grand Marshal; David J. Gimlich was assistant marshal, and the following where on horses and in charge of the three divisions: First division, David J. Gimlich, H. Earl Henry, Sheriff John Nicholson; second division, Dr. George J. Andler, Charles Moran and Arthur Farnum; third division, John A. Kenyon, Ralph N. Dennett, William A. Burns.

Instead of separately leading the three divisions, the three commanderies marched together at the head of the parade. There were 1,280 men in line.

The main lodge room was filled to overflowing for the dedication exercises, which started shortly after 3.30. Worshipful Charles A. Acly, Master, and Past Master Harlan H. Ballard of Crescent Lodge, welcomed the Grand Master. Frank W. Merrick, D. D., Grand Chaplain, offered prayer, and the Architect of the Temple, Joseph McA. Vance surrendered the working tools.

An address was made by Robert B. Donaldson, Master of Mystic Lodge, and Most Worshipful Johnson replied. Next followed an examination of the building by the grand officers and the ceremonial dedication to Free Masonry followed. Ceremonial dedication to virtue; dedication to universal benevolence came next and then invocation by the Grand Chaplain. Worshipful William M. Farrington made the proclamation.


Right Worshinful Leon M. Abbott then delivered the dedication address, saying in part:

"The history of Masonry in Pittsfield during the past, approximately one hundred years, has been so closely associated with every movement for the general welfare of all in the community, that there can be no doubt that within your lodge rooms there have been born and nurtured many of the noblest impulses and resolves of good citizenship. I venture to say that a large part of the God-loving, God-serving people of this city and section, who are not members of our Institution, recognize in it today a sturdy bulwark of civic righteousness, a champion of human liberty, and a leader of advancing civilization.

"How futile and how powerless have been the attacks of time and enemies upon those eternal truths which we seek to emphasize and which are the centre and the circumference of our fellowship.

"How steady indeed has been the march of progress, during the past century, how many barriers seDar-ating men have been removed, how many old antagonisms have been mitigated, what differences have fallen into oblivion, and how little the separation of religious belief. One can read the Sunday sermons in this morning's papers without knowing from the sermon the denomination to which the preacher belongs. This would hardly have been possible even fifty years ago.

"Along many lines of human effort and need the spirit of universal brotherhood has been manifest and the Divine is being revealed in the hearts of men.

"Some one has truly said that 'somewhere in the secret of every soul there lies the hidden gleam of a perfect life.' It has been one of the glad and sacred missions of our fraternity to nourish and fan that little gleam until it becomes as a beacon and pointing the way to the grandeur of ideal manhood.

"Men unconsciously grow to become like that which they continually contemplate — and herein lies the secret of success, 'the pearl of great price,' in the ministry of Masonry. We have constantly before us, through precept, symbol and example, the most exalted ideals of Christian manhood. It is as impossible for any man to do evil whose consciousness is filled with good, as it would be for an artist to paint a portrait of Jesus when before him there was the form and features of Judas.

"The man worthwhile is he who seeks goodness because of its own inherent worth and practical value. He never ceases to seek the ultimate, yes, Heaven itself, for its own glory of idealism. The man who refrains from doing wrong through fear of punishment can never be a Mason except in name, nor can he be safely trusted in any relation of human society.

"May this grand old fellowship of ours, under the auspices of which we are gathered here today, ever continue to enlarge the boundary of human thought and action, ever be found in the forefront of the battle for the vindication and perpetuation of ever manly, not prudish, virtue, in the enlightenment of men, so that finally the very facts shall outrun our faith and all strife, all misery, all evil shall fade away and be blotted out from human consciousness and from hu man experience.

"May these ceremonies of this afternoon but symbolize the dedicit tion anew of your life and mine to the truest and highest ideals, to the indulgence of every sentiment which ennobles human nature and brings it into harmony with the Divine.

"The honor, the integrity, and the reputation of Masonry are in our keeping — a sacred trust to be administered for the benefit of humanity. And looking beyond our own lives, we shall, by our loyalty and worthiness prefigure the destinies of our Organization, and, verily there shall be established on earth and in the hearts and lives of all men the world over the glorious sovereignty of brotherly love."

The dedicatory program was concluded with a ball in Assembly Hall, which was continued from 9 P. M. to 2 A. M.

A neat program of the events was provided, with the names of brethren serving on the several committees. The new Temple ranks in appearance with the finest buildings of Pittsfield. It is three stories high and constructed of red tapestry brick. It is of the Grecian style of architecture and 6314 feet wide by 132 feet long. All of the floors, with the exception of those covered with carpets, are of polished maple. The finish of the vestibule, foyer and front stairway is of oak.

The hall is 59 feet wide and 103 feet long. Entrance is gained by a wide stairway leading down from the right of the main foyer. The ceiling is beamed and of a white finish. The walls are divided by plaster pilasters and the whole effect is light and pleasing. There are five sets of exit doors. There are ladies' rooms and check rooms on this floor and at the west end are the kitchens and serving rooms, all completely furnished for the serving of banquets, suppers, etc.

A musicians' balcony occupied the east end of the hall and is large enough for an orchestra of thirty Pieces. The men's smoking rooms and check rooms are located at the main entrance. A carriage entrance for tne assembly hall is located on the north side of the building, near the east end.

The main lodge room, on the second floor, is one of the finest in the state. It is 67 feet long and about 43 feet wide. There is a Grecian pediment in the east end, supported by four Ionic pilasters, with large columns, also Ionic on each side. The walls are paneled with wood moulding. There is a balcony and organ loft in the west end of the lodge room. The room is beautifully furnished with mahogany and many of the articles were donated for the Masonic degree work.

On the second floor, to the east, is also the prelate's room. It is 19 by 39 feet in size and can be used, in cases of emergency, for lodge meetings. There are convenient rooms at the west end of the floor for the tyler, candidates, etc. There are co^t rooms and toilets on this floor and also a vault with fireproof doors. The north corridor is used by Berkshire Com-mandery, Knights Templar, for locker purposes.

The third floor is devoted to the small lodge room, size 19 by 36 feet. There are lockers on the east side and at the west end of this floor are offices, preparation rooms and places where paraphernalia can be kept.

The site, on which the Temple was built, was for 66 years occupied by the parsonage of the First Church of Christ in Pittsfield. It was bought on April 29, 1911, by the Pittsfield Masonic Association and on July 9, 1912, the contract for the Temple was awarded. The corner-stone was laid on October 10, 1912, by Grand Master Everett C. Benton.


From New England Craftsman, Vol. XV, No. 5, February 1920, Page 153:

One of the most interesting gatherings of Masons ever held in Massachusetts, and which attracted the attention of Masonic lodges all over the state and in many other parts of the country was held at the Masonic temple Jan. 23d when a magnificent bronze memorial tablet was unveiled, bearing the names of the members of Mystic and Crescent lodges who were in the service in the World War; the service flags of each lodge were demobilized and 450 men got together p lodge room and dining hall for three hours of fraternal festivity and thought.

A buffalo banquet was the opening event of the evening. The roast meat of half a big buffalo, secured from a national park in New Hampshire was served as the meat course of a splendid dinner. It proved a satisfactory substitute for very fine beef but will probably not go a long way reducing the high cost of living in the average home as there are estimated to be less than 3500 buffalo alive in America today.

The unveiling exercises were held in the big lodge room on the second floor. Congressman Allen T. Treadway presided. Admiral Robert E. Koontz, chief of operations of the naval department was the principal speaker; Edward W. Britton, private secretary to Secretary Josephus. A. Daniels of the navy, Lieut. Commander Harry W. Hill who acted as Admiral Koontz's aide, Don. H. Foster and Mayor Louis A. Merchant also spoke.

The dinner was served at 7 o'clock in the hall downstairs, where six long tables ranged from east to west and the guest table at the east end, were filled with men. A central table was reserved for the service | men, 67 of whom marched in in uniform, headed by Lieut. Col. William H. Eaton, I Major R. M. Ames, and Chief Petty Officers A. C. Jasperson of the navy. A color guard with the flag and buglers playing headed the double line. It was an impressive entrance and brought those who had seated themselves to their feet with applause and | cheers.

The guests of the evening also got an ovation as they came in and were seated at the head table. Ladies of Collina chapter, Order of the Eastern Star, served the dinner.

After dinner the lights were turned out and movies were shown. A surprise greeted the diners when the first reel gave pictures of buffalo in captivity and showed graphically the rapid extermination, or near extermination of this American beast which, in 30 years, from 1850 to 1880 almost disappeared from the western plains. Other pictures of wild life, comics and travel scenes were shown. The Masonic Glee club and Temple quartet and a lively jazz orchestra played during the dinner.

The exercises of unveiling the tablet were begun when Congressman Treadway called on A. C. Jasperson, historian of tha Pittsfield post, American Legion, to perform; his part. With a deputation of sailors and soldiers in uniform he directed the raising of a handsome silk United States flag from over the bronze tablet on the north wall of the room and the service flags of Mysti< and Crescent lodges were lowered at the same time.

Irving J. Barnfather, as chairman of the committee appointed to secure a suitable memorial and arrange the dedication of it presented the tablet and Lieut. Col. W. H. Eaton received it for the service men.

Lieut. Col. Eaton bespoke the deep gratitude of the service men for the honor thus paid them and said this tablet will ever perpetuate the high principles for which they fought in the war.

Congressman Treadway, in presenting the speaker of the evening, remarked that the memorial tablet would serve to express the permanent gratitude and honor that is due to the men who gave up all that was dear in life that they might serve and do their duty by God and man; and that it was in that spirit that the brethren of the two lodges united to show appreciation and willing sacrifice. He mentioned that he attended a meeting Wednesday night at which the most worshipful grand master of the state was present. He sent a personal message and a message from the grand lodge, expressing his deep regret at his inability to be present.

Admiral Koontz he presented as the highest ranking naval officer in the service in Washington. His presence, he said, was ample evidence of the high regard in which naval and official life appreciates the occasion.

Admiral Koontz, he said, had spent his life in the service and was recently governor of Guam and raised it from an ordinary tribal condition to a country whose citizens are loyal to the United States flag. He was recently in charge of the Pacific fleet and is now chief of naval operations. In Masonry he is a past master of the William H. Upton Lodge in Missouri, his home state.

He brought the sincere regrets of Franklin D. Roosevelt at his inability to come but said important government business kept him away. The Roosevelts, he observed, were generally pretty good in the buffalo country.

"Masons of course, did their part in the war," said Admiral Koontz. "Their aims and those of the country are the same. The world honors the high aims of the United States Masons agreed to these aims. It is a pleasure for me to be a witness to the unveiling of this tablet in memoriam to those who died. Of them we can say: "'Their virtues lies with dust We only know we keep our trust.'"

Lieut. Commander Harry W. Hill, who came as aide to Admiral Koontz and who was on the battleship Texas, during the war, was called on for remarks. He told a graphic story of the work of the fleet in the North Sea regions. He said the potential power of this allied fleet was its strength.^

Congressman Treadway presented Edward E. Britton, private secretary to Secretary Daniels, as a former newspaper editor, a man who was taken from private life where he was confidential man for Mr. Daniels, into public life.

"Way down in North Carolina," said Mr. Treadway, "was a man of whom not very much was known, making an honest living running a country newspaper. He had a careful reporter on his staff, a man who later came to be his editor. I say, he was making an honest living — but I am getting in pretty deep on this matter concerning our leading democrats. I'd better not go any further."

Mayor Louis A. Merchant, in a brief speech, extended the courtesies of the city to the guests and expressed the pride that Pittsfield should feel in the exercises and the presence of such distinguished guests.

Congressman Treadway, in closing, said that there never has been anywhere in Massachusetts a more earnest, sincere and successful gathering than this to give honor to the khaki and blue and the Stars and Stripes.

The memorial tablet unveiled is a handsome bit of work. It contains the names of 119 men.