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From TROWEL, Fall 1988, Page 3:

An Imposing Structure to Behold
Springfield Temple


There is no society so widely known, and yet so little known, as that of Free and Accepted Masons. Even many in the Craft are uninformed of our eventful past, despite the lessons from the ritual of the three Blue Lodges degrees. The actual history of the Craft, extending over a period of some six centuries, and that of its grand structures, during ages now fittingly described by the term "Time immemorial," appears to have been relegated to a back seat and frequently overlooked. Some of our temples, so spacious and magnificent, are the result of more prosperous times when the cost of construction is considered. One such imposing edifice is the Springfield temple at 339 State St. Built in a neighborhood of other buildings of architectural splendor, the cornerstone weighing approximately two tons, was laid by M.W. and Rev. Dudley H. Ferrell on St. John's Sunday, June 24, 1924. One month earlier the cornerstone of the Shriner's Hospital on Carew St. was laid. Placed in the temple cornerstone box was a picture of the Grand Master (1923-25), documents including Lodge notices and membership lists, a Henry Price Medal, a souvenir trowel, photographs, and the Past Master's jewel of Samuel D. Sherwood that was given him by Roswell Lee Lodge of Springfield.

When the building was beautified and adorned and its several parts fitted with such exact nicety, it was dedicated by M. W. Frank L. Simpson on Feb. 15, 1926. Completed at a cost of one million dollars, one can only hazard a guess as to what the cost might be in 1988. The building is unique in its many features, such as Indiana limestone and light brick, cork floors in Lodge rooms, mosaic floors of Tennessee marble, Greek and Doric columns, a marble stairway, a 1,500-seat auditorium with two organs, a huge banquet hall, several meeting rooms, a library, and a large well-equipped kitchen. The original pipe organ is now silent but a Wurlitzer organ provides all the music and sound needed. The largest Masonic building of its kind in the northeast, it has earned a place in the National Register of Historic Places.

Stairways or an Otis elevator whisk one to the six floors, each one containing a rest room. TROWEL 's guide, Bro. Clarence Mclntire, pointed out the many pictures of the Past Masters of the Lodges meeting there and, in particular, a huge eight-by-ten-foot picture of every member of Springfield Commandery # 6, taken in May 1888. Cutouts of each member's head are placed with the largest in the front row and reduced in size in each of the sixteen rows. This was the work of master craftsman Chauncy L. Moore.

Lodges meeting in the temple are Hampden (1819), Chicopee (1848), Roswell Lee-Samuel Osgood (1864), Esoteric (1901), Springfield (1894), and Samuel D. Sherwood (1921). All meetings of the Fifth Lodge of Instruction are held there as well as Scottish Rite Bodies and Connecticut Valley Consistory. Other bodies meeting in the building are Morning Star Royal Arch Chapter; Springfield Council, Royal and Select Masters; Springfield Commandery No. 6, Knight Templar, and Adelphi Chapter and Springfield Chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star. There is no DeMolay Chapter or Rainbow Assembly in the city.

SpringfieldTemple1892_1988.jpg SpringfieldTemple1892a.jpg
This is the building at the corner of State and Main Streets as it looked when it was the Springfield Masonic Temple. (Built in 1892.)

Within three years of the dedication of the temple, the world faced a financial depression that left its mark on every American family. Large pledges to the temple could not be paid and in 1937 the Springfield Five Cents Savings Bank executed its foreclosure rights. In 1940, Bro. Gurdon W. Gordon, Esq., came to the rescue and bailed the temple out of its financial dilemma. A permanent fund, like that in Grand Lodge, Boston, was finally established, funds from which will help to keep the temple that measures 166 feet by 180 feet and 102 feet high, in repair.

During the years that followed the depression the temple was neglected due to the lack of funds and it fell into disrepair. Walls and ceilings were badly damaged by water leaking through the roof and from broken drains. In 1977 the decision was finally made to repair it or abandon it. E. Raymond Turner, a Springfield attorney, was elected President over the Temple Corporation and immediately became master and overseer of the Workers of the Temple who spent the next ten years repairing and painting. A Mason since 1939, Bro. Turner would often begin his day at 9 A.M. and work until 5 P.M. with a transistor radio for company. A native of Hopedale, he moved into the city in 1950.

Rabbi Stephen S. Wise once declared: "Give yourself to something great, enroll under the banner of a high cause, choose as your own some standard of self-sacrifice, attach yourself to a movement that makes not for your own gain but for the welfare of men, and you will have come upon a richly satisfying as well as engrossing adventure." Ray Turner did just that and when he had completed his work he passed the reigns of the temple on to another.

The highlight of the restoration has been the formation of the Springfield Masonic Library Foundation, a charitable trust that has been approved by the IRS. The library on the lower floor contains Masonic books and literature as well as other reading material and is open to the public. In 1986 Grand Master David B. Richardson dedicated the E. Raymond Turner Library and was assisted by Melha Temple Potentate John E. Bethel, Mayor Richard E. Neal, and Congressman Edward F. Boland. A flag that had flown over the Capitol in Washington was given by Cong. Boland. A suitable plaque and picture of Bro. Turner hangs on the wall beside the flag.

A feature of the library, adjacent to a pool and billiard room is a Masonic road marker embellished with the square and compasses, the sun, the moon, a star, pillars, and steps, and placed in 1763 by Bro. Joseph Wait who had been lost in a blinding snowstorn. He erected the milestone marker to direct future travellers on the Boston Post Road.

Storm windows were attached to the windows on the first three floors, circulating fans were installed in two first floor Lodge rooms, and a new burner put in the furnace that has reduced oil consumption by about 200 gallons a month. Bro. Turner and his workers have more than made their contribution to the Craft. "It's been a labor of love," is what you might expect a real workman in the Craft to admit. He is one Speculative Mason who easily adapted himself to Operative Masonry, and because of he and the other Workmen in the Temple, the facility has been beautified and adorned.

(Acknowledgements: E. Raymond Turner, Kenneth St. Peter, Richard M. Page, Bob Rancore, and Clarence Mclntire.)




From Springfield Republican, June 25, 1868:


The Parade, the Music, the Exercises on Hampden Park and at the City Hall.

Last year Boston, with its new and costly Masonic hall, took to itself the celebration of St. John’s Day, the high day of Masonry. This year Springfield has had its turn, and though it could not hope to rival the Boston demonstration, either in the number present, or the interest that attached to the dedication of its new temple, the occasion on Wednesday proved one of rare success and enjoyment, both to participators and spectators. Wc did not have the presence of A. Johnson to give éclat to it, but plenty of good honest country folk came instead, taxing the resources of our hotels and victualing stands, and displaying, the feminine portion of them, the most wonderful and bewitching “suits,” in all the delicate colors that are now so fashionable. The day itself was all that could be desired; indeed, it was almost like a reminiscence of Eden. Plenteous showers the night before completely laid the dust, but without making mud; the sun, which shone out bright with a morning invitation to attend, was veiled by passing clouds much of the time during the passage of the procession and the exercises at the park, while every wandering breeze came fresh from some bed of roses or field of new mown hay.

Some of the brethren arrived Tuesday night, among them the DeMolay Encampment of Knights Templar from Boston and the Apollo Commandery of Troy, N. Y. The early trains of Wednesday brought the rest; and Main street, and the cross streets leading out of it near the depot, were early alive with the various organizations, forming


Which was the great feature of the day as far as the general public is concerned. And what a procession it was! Think of over forty various encampments, chapters and lodges of Masons all together, many of them numbering from fifty to one hundred men, the Knights Tempter in their gorgeous regalia, and the craftsmen of lower degree with their aprons and other insignia, accompanied and enlivened by thirteen of the best bands iu the country discoursing delicious music, and you have it, as far as it can be appreciated by any other sense than sight. The procession was at least a mile and a quarter long, requiring thirty minutes to pass any given point, and was under the command of Samuel B. Spooner as chief marshal, while Gen. George H. Nye acted as chief marshal of Templars, Gen. H. C. Lee as chief marshal of lodges, E. E. Rankin as chief marshal of Templars, H. M. Phillips as commander of the Springfield Encampment, which acted as general escort, and J. E. Taylor, H. B. Lewis, W. S. Greene and L. J. Powers acted as aids to the chief marshals. Moving pretty promptly at eleven o’clock, the route of the procession was through East Bridge, Chestnut, Maple, Union, Walnut, and Federal streets to the east gate of the armory, around Union Square to State Street, thence to Main, and through Clinton to Hampden Park. In more detail, but still quite briefly, the following was the composition of the procession, the various bodies being mentioned iu the order in which they appeared:—

  • General escort — Armory cornet band of Springfield; Springfield encampment, 80 Sir Knights, H. M. Phillips commander; Colt’s Armory Band of Hartford; Washington Commandery of Hartford, 80 Sir Knights.
  • First DivisionRepublican Lodge of Greenfield, 48 men; Jerusalem Lodge of Northampton, 125 men; Aurora Lodge of Fitchburg, 40 men; Mountain Lodge of Shelburne Falls, 23 men; Chicopee Lodge of Chicopee, with the Chicopee Falls brass band, 80 men; Mount Tom Lodge of Holyoke, 90 men.
  • Second Division - Escort, Worcester County Encampment, 50 Sir Knights, with the Worcester brass band; Thomas Lodge of Palmer, 50 men; Mount Zion Lodge of Barre, 35 men; Pacific Lodge of Amherst, 60 men; Quaboag Lodge of Warren, 35 men; Day Spring Lodge of Monson, 30 men; Eden Lodge of Ware, 25 men.
  • Third division — Escort, DeMolay encampment of Boston, 130 Sir Knights, J. W. Dadmun commander, with Gilmore's band, 36 pieces; Mystic lodge of Pittsfield, 40 men; Mount Moriah Lodge of Westfield, 75 men; Huntington Lodge of Huntington, 37 men.
  • Fourth division – Escort, Hampden Lodge, 170 men, and Roswell Lee Lodge, 45 men, with Dodworth’s band of New York, 23 pieces: Hiram Lodge of New Haven, 30 men; St John’s Lodge of Hartford, 150 men; Orient Lodge of East Hartford, 45 men; Meridian Lodge of Meriden, 100 men; Wooster Lodge of New Haven, 70 men.
  • Fifth division – Escort, Holy Sepulcher Encampment of Pawtucket, R. I., 55 Sir Knights, Horace Daniels, commander, with the Pawtucket cornet band; Morning Star chapter of Springfield, 65 men; St John’s chapter of East Boston, 40 men; Washington chapter, of Suffield, Ct., 20 men.
  • Sixth division – Gen. G. H. Nye of Chicopee, chief marshal of encampments; American brass band of Providence; St John’s encampment of Providence; St John’s Encampment of Providence, 33 Sir Knights; A. Crawford Greene, Commander; Fitchburg cornet band, of Fitchburg; Jerusalem Encampment of Fitchburg, 52 Sir Knights, John Burney commander; Schrieber's band of Albany, N. Y.; Berkshire Encampment, 35 Sir Knights, Lo. H. Gamwell, commander; Railroad band of Springfield; Connecticut Valley Encampment of Greenfield, 40 Sir Knights, W. T. Davis commander; Doring’s band of Troy. N. Y.; Apollo commandery of New London, 25 Sir Knights.
  • Seventh division, in Carriages — Committee of arrangements, Judge William S. Shurtleff, president of the day, chaplains, vice presidents, aged and infirm Masons, delegations from the Grand Commandery of Connect!cut, Grand Encampment of Masssachusetts and Rhode Island, Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Connecticut, and the Grand lodges of Connecticut and Massachusetts.

Along the whole route of the procession the streets were lined, and the piazzas and balconies crowded with interested spectators, who testified of their good will by a generous display of handkerchiefs and banners, while cooling water in abundance was furnished at various points. At W. W. Amidon’s residence on Union Street, Masonic emblems and national colors blended; over Federal Street the Stars and Stripes were suspended; nearly all the houses on State Street abounded in flags; on the Masonic hall on State Street and above the way was a profusion of colors emblematic of chivalry; the Hampden lodge I. O. O. F. hung out a welcome from their lodge room; the merchants on Main street generally honored the occasion by decorating stores with flags; the principal hotels, and the Boston and Albany and Connecticut River Railroad offices were adorned with flags, and the residences of C. O. Russell, Conductor Parker, Conductor Carroll and John Mulligan abounded in decorations. In fact, along North Main and Clinton streets, to the park, nearly all the residences were ornamented,


It was 1 o’clock when the head of the procession reached Hampden Park, and so large and unwieldy was it that it took till 3 o’clock for the Masons to get seated in the spectators’ stand, with the ladies who had long waited for them, to participate in the literary part of the feast. Finally all were ready,— the armory band played a choice selection. Rev George H. McKnight of this city made the prayer of invocation, Gilmore’s band of Boston played a voluntary so deliciously that an encore and another long and choice selection followed, a select quartette lead, and many of the fraternity joined in singing a part of the choral, written for the occasion by B. P. Shillaber, and then,— it was past 8 o’clock, and the oration, the review, the dinner and the dance were yet to come. Rev. William R. Alger of Boston, the orator of the occasion, took in the situation at a glance, and surprised and pleased his audience by announcing that he would show them a prodigy and a miracle,— a minister who would cut short his sermon for the comfort of his audience, and a discourse reduced from one hour and ten minutes in length to thirty minutes. And he was as good as his word, and spoke in fact, less than twenty-five minutes, leaving out the most of his oration, and giving only the introduction and the peroration. What was said, indeed, served the purpose mainly to show what the audience lost by not hearing the whole, for both in manner and matter Mr Alger is always richly worth listening to. But he was undoubtedly right his oration, as written, at its close the park would have been deserted. As it is he certainly merits the printing of the following abstract, made by himself, of the address, “as it would have appeared” had it been delivered:—


Opening with a grateful congratulation on the auspicious circumstances under which they had gathered, the address passed to a brief eulogy on the life and character of John the Baptist, the patron saint whose natal day they were celebrating. It then defined Masonry in the double aspect of a series of oral traditions, and a system of emblematic morality. Four qualifications were declared to be indispensable for a good Mason. First, he must be no scoffer, but a man of a reverential spirit; second, he must be no dry proser, but a man of a living imagination; third, he must be no bigot, but a man of a liberal mind; fourth, he must be no selfish worldling, but a man of a generous heart.

The oration then explained one of the chief benefits conferred by the Masonic order to be in this respect: that by the great attraction and extent if its interests each member is lifted out of his narrow personality into high thoughts and sympathies. He is concerned in whatever concerns this ancient, extensive and enduring community. An effective blow is thus struck at the egotistical individuality which is so fatal a feature in these headlong times. This was illustrated by an unveiling of the vast domain which Masonry opens to its members in past, present and future.

But Masonry not only lifts a man out of himself into wider and nobler interests; it also helps him to be in himself what he ought to be. It constantly admonishes him of his varied duties in the different relations of life. This point was strikingly enforced by an explanation of some of the chief Masonic symbols, with the solemn lessons which they teach.

The orator, after alluding to the remarkable prevalence of Masonry said that while be sympathized in general with the objections to secret societies in a free country, these objections could scarcely apply to Masonry because this was a society for the cultivation of friendship and morality, with the careful exclusion of sectarianism and politics. The moment sectarianism or politics is admitted into Masonry, the institution will explode; and so long as these are strictly excluded, there is little room for evil, but great room for good.

Whether genuine Christian men, consistent American citizens, have reason to fear and oppose Masonry, or to trust and befriend it, the speaker thought would appear clearly enough from a glimpse at the chief characteristics impersonated in its worthy disciples. These characteristics he illustrated with some detail under four heads. First, every true Mason is a pilgrim in search of light traveling toward the goal of his destiny. Secondly, every free Mason is a warrior fighting for innocence and charity, against every form of evil. Thirdly, every true Mason is a patriot, bound to love and serve bis native laud, pledged to revere her laws and promote her weal, Fourthly, every true Mason is a spiritual architect, required to build an indestructible house of character out of the rude material of bis being. Under the rough outworks the moral edifice goes up, little by little, until it is complete. Then death tears off the scaffolding of flesh and bones, and the pure temple, not made with hands, mounts to God. bauds, mounts to God.


The exercises at the stand closed with music by Dodworth's band of New York, and the benediction by Rev. Mr. Finch of Greenfield, Mr Nye of this city, who had been appointed to the latter duty, being unavoidably absent. Then came the finest spectacle of the day, the review of nine encampments and commanderies of the Knights Templar led by Gen. G. H. Nye, and under the general command of Marshal Samuel B. Spooner. They were reviewed by Benjamin Dean of Boston, Deputy Grand Master of the Grand Encampment of Massachusetts aud Rhode Island, and a delegation of the encampment. On receiving the salute of Marshal Spooner and the officers of the battalion at dress parade, Deputy Dean congratulated the Sir Knights on their fine appearance, and the good record of each encampment, “from the oldest, the St. John’s of Providence, to the Connecticut Valley, youngest born.” The procession then re-formed and marched our of the park, and through Clinton, Fulton, Emery, Main and Court streets to the City Hall, for


This was the nearest approach to a failure of any part of the program. Not on the part of Messrs. Swetland & Hall of Hartford, the caterers, who had provided an elegant and substantial repast, with all the delicacies of the season, for 1000 persons; but in the lack of participants and guests, and the total omission of the promised after-dinner speeches. It was so late — after 5 o’clock,— when the hall was reached, that many of the visiting brethren had gone home, and others had been forced to satisfy the cravings of hunger by a dinner elsewhere, so the tables were not a quarter tilled; many were obliged to take “a bite” and leave; and the tables had to be cleared immediately for the dance in the evening. President Shurtleff, indeed, made a short speech, and a vote of thanks was given to the orator of the day, for the address he had so conscientiously prepared, but had not spoken; Sir Knight Smith R. Phillips of this city, the toastmaster of the occasion, also read a few of the toasts that had been prepared, and a letter was read from Thomas A. Doyle of Providence, R. I., who was unable to he present. But the hall was in great confusion all the time, and few heard anything, not even the invitation to the dance in the evening, Judge Shurtleff assuring the visitors that they would find plenty of partners among the wives, sisters and sweethearts of the Springfield brethren.


So harried was the dinner, so few its attendants, that the really beautiful decorations of the City Hall would have been in vain, if for that alone. But the evening brought plenty of admirers, and full leisure to admire in the interval of the promenade concert given by Dodworth’s band, from 8 to 10 o’clock, and between the dances that followed. Next to the procession the ball was the great feature of the occasion. But a small part of the visiting Masons, comparatively, participated in it; but many other citizens were present, so that the floor was fall of dancers and the gallery of spectators. The ladies were out in fall force and full dress, the music was charming, and all the evening long the dance went on, “Soft eyes looked love,” &c., and everything went “Merry as a marriage bell,” indeed till the evening star and the new moon went down, and the “glorious constellation of the north” had nearly completed the night portion of its “eternal circle.” In feet, some of the dancers continued the festivities till an hour that we wot not of, and we fear the morning blushed to find them still upon the floor.


The celebration must be put down a great success. The Springfield Masons did themselves much credit in the inception and carrying out of the festival, and the visiting brethren were all men that we should like to see often in our city. The long delays that necessitated the abridgment of a portion of the program were the only drawbacks, and they were perhaps unavoidable; but they are to be regretted all the same.

One feature of the day, which deserves further special mention, was the presence of so many excellent bands of music. They were all so good it seems almost invidious to speak of one as more excellent than the others; indeed we could have been very happy with either had ’tother dear charmers been away; but it is the general testimony that Gilmore's band of Boston bore off the palm, not only in the number of pieces, but the perfection of its execution; and after yesterday’s performance, we think we may safely congratulate Mr Gilmore on being the leader of the best band in the country.

Boston also furnished the crack corps of knights — the De Molay Encampment — which surpassed all others in numbers, equipment and drill, though all the other encampments made a very fine appearance. The Providence encampment appeared with much thinner ranks than was expected, owing to the failure of many members to reach the train, which left at the early hour of 5 o’clock, Wednesday morning.

The occasion brought thousands of visitors to the city, and the railroads aid an excellent business, the Boston and Albany Railroad running extra trains both cast and west.


From Liberal Freemason, Vol. XIV, No. 11, February 1891, Page 350:

It is a matter of regret that our brethren in Springfield, Mass., have been made to suffer loss by fire; they had many rare and valuable things in their apartments, many of them hard to be replaced, some of them not at all. The Boston Herald printed a special dispatch as follows: " he five-story brown stone front building of the Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company on Main Street was damaged by fire this afternoon (February 9th,) the loss being variously estimated at from $20,000 to $30,000. The first floor was occupied by Woodbury, Moulton & Stearns, investment bankers, and by the Springfield Safety Deposit Company; the second and third floors by the Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company; and the fourth and fifth floors by Springfield Commandery Knight Templars, Morning Star Chapter Royal Arch Masons, Springfield Council Lodge of Perfection and Princes of Jerusalem, Roswell Lee and Hampden Lodges, F. & A. M. The fire started on the fourth floor, in an ante-room, and had gained considerable headway when discovered. In an hour the firemen had the fire under control. The flames were confined to the two upper floors, and most of the damage was done by water. The loss of the various Masonic Lodges aggregates $10,000, the loss on the building itself is $15,000, and the damage done to the furniture in Woodbury, Moulton & Stearns's office, is estimated at $15,000. All these damages are fully covered by insurance. The fire probably caught from an electric light wire."


From New England Craftsman, Vol. XIX, No. 9, June 1924, Page 284:

More than 5000 members of Masonic bodies in Springfield, Mass., and nearby cities and towns, participated in the parade and other exercises attending the laying of the cornerstone Tuesday, June 24th ef the new $1,000,000 Masonic temple in State Street. Several thousand more spectators viewed the ceremony and listened to the addresses, the speakers' voices being carried to the edges of the throng of spectators by amplifiers.

Nearly 3000 took part in the parade through the business district, ending at the new temple. The cornerstone was laid by the Most Worshipful Dudley H. Ferrell of Lynn, Grand Master of Masons in Massachusetts, and his official suite. Mayors Edwin F. Leonard of Springfield and Norman B. Stevens of Hartford, and E. A. Blodgett, president of the Masonic Hall Association, assisted in spreading the cement. After the two-ton stone was lowered and leveled, the ancient ceremony of consecrating the stone with corn, wine and oil followed.

Trowel from the 1924 Cornerstone Laying


From New England Craftsman, Vol. XXI, No. 4, February 1926, Page 115:

The new temple of the Springfield (Mass.) Masonic Hall Association was dedicated February 16th in accordance ancient rites by Most Worshipful Frank L. Simpson, of Boston, Grand Master of Masons of Massachusetts and his suite. The completed building, considered one of the finest of its kind in the country, represents well upward of $1,000,000. Precedence in the dedicatory rites was given to Hampden Lodge, organized in 1817, the oldest in the city. The cornerstone was laid twenty months ago.


From TROWEL, February 1984, Page 26:

Springfield Temple Getting a New Look

Through the concerted effort of an active Board of Directors the Springfield Masonic Temple, located at 339 State Street, is getting a restoration near to the building that was dedicated February 15, 1926.

For too many years the building had suffered from neglect and was allowed to fall into disrepair to the extent walls and ceilings had been damaged by water leaking through the roof and broken drains in the walls.

One of the highlights of the restoration program is the formation of the Springfield Masonic Library Foundation, a charitable trust that has been recognized by the IRS. The library will include Masonic books and artifacts for the benefit of both the Fraternity and the public.

A special feature of the library is a Masonic Road Marker that is embellished with Masonic markings on loan to the temple from the City of Springfield. The marker dates to 1763 when it was erected by a Brother to direct travelers to Boston. It is possible the marker is the oldest of its kind in America.

Masonry's roots in the Springfield area go back to 1817 when Colonel Roswell Lee organized Hampden Lodge that is still in existence. Brother Lee was the Commandant of the Springfield Armory.

Constructed of Indiana limestone, with cork floors in the Lodge rooms, mosaic floors of Tennessee marble, Greek Doric stone columns, and a marble stairway, the Temple's cornerstone was laid June 24, 1924. When completed the cost had reached one million dollars.

A permanent fund has been established for the first time. The kitchen has been remodeled, roof and drains repaired, and several rooms are now in the process of being repainted.

The splendor of the Springfield Temple has gained the favor of the Springfield and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Historical Commissions. Through their approval the Temple has been recommended an historical designation to the Federal Historical Commission that, when approved, will include the Temple in the Federal Registry of Historical Buildings.

Masons in the Springfield area are now pointing toward the spring when they will celebrate the 60th anniversary of the laying of the cornerstone. No specific date has yet been chosen but we can be sure it will be a gala occasion that will properly befit the new look for the Springfield Masonic Temple.

Written by Brother E. Raymond Turner
President, Springfield Masonic Temple Association, Inc.