Eureka Masons Lodge
Eureka, Navarro County, Texas


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11/17/2004 INSIDE NAVARRO COUNTY: Historic Eureka Masonic lodge building hitting the road


From left, Sammy Thomas and Richard Rash stand upstairs in the original lodge meeting room at the old Eureka Masonic Lodge. Daily Sun photo/DEANNA PAWLOWSKI



By DEANNA PAWLOWSKI/Daily Sun Staff

A piece of Eureka history will soon depart Navarro County for a new home in Henderson County.

The Eureka Masonic Lodge will move to New York, Texas, near Pointer, after being home to the masons of Eureka since 1912.

"We sold the lodge," said Sammy Thomas, lodge member. "They are going to move it in three sections, then put it back together and restore it."



The building was originally a one-room schoolhouse for Eureka School. They began sharing space with the masons not long after the Eureka Lodge Number 1060 was founded.

The idea for a Masonic Lodge at Eureka was conceived by a woman concerned for her husband. Brother J. A. Bonner was a faithful member of Winkler Lodge Number 826, and very seldom missed a meeting. During winter and early spring, Bonner often saddled up his horse and forded Richland Creek while in flood stage to attend Lodge. Mrs. Bonner, being fearful for his health or that he might drown, suggested that if he loved Masonry so well and intended to attend regardless of the weather, should establish a Masonic Lodge on the north side of Richland Creek.

The Eureka School had outgrown its one-room schoolhouse by 1911, which was on two acres of land deeded to the school and Masonic Lodge by Brother J.B. Sims. The school board decided to build an additional room onto the structure, and were aided by the Masons and members of the community to raise funds to strengthen the foundation and add a second story to the building. This second story was used for additional classrooms, and served as the Asylum for Eureka Lodge.
"There were eight grades in this schoolhouse, and the lodge was upstairs," Thomas said. "Richard Rash's dad went to school here."

The original charter for the Masonic Lodge was issued to Brother J.A. Bonner, worshipful master, J. J. Hamilton, senior warden, and B.F. Wilson, junior warden on Dec. 5, 1912. There were 34 charter members of the lodge.

In 1930, the school consolidated with Providence School and the Lodge purchased the school's interest in the property and thus became sole owner. A back section was built on in the 1950s, which added restrooms and a storage room. While the Masons continued to meet upstairs, the ground floor was used as a community center for many years.

"The new owners plan to restore the building, like a museum," said Richard Rash, lodge member. "This woman buys old buildings and restores them. It will take $25,000 to $35,000 just to move it -- then another $100,000 or so to restore it."

The building is scheduled to be moved in the next two weeks, weather permitting. Thomas said the building had fallen into such a state of disrepair they had trepidation about continuing to meet upstairs.

"We started lodge one night, and there was a snake laying across the window," Thomas said. "One guy reached over, grabbed it behind the head, and I opened up the window and he chunked it outside. We stopped meeting here in October of 2003, and built a new building."

Items salvaged from the old building, which have found a home in the new building, include a hand-hewn handrail from the stairway of the old lodge, bookshelves, old rosters, ceiling tiles and chairs. One item left behind in the old building is an upright piano, which still works, left over from square dances held in the past.

"It cost too much to restore the building, and the Masons didn't have the money to do it," Rash said. "But this woman did. We were going to tear it down, until she came along."

"We built this new lodge debt-free," Rash continued. "Sammy and Barney (Thomas) did lots of it. They tore down a metal building and moved it, and it stayed between their houses for years. We do a little as we get money."

The lodge still has 60 to 70 members, and Thomas invites all Masonic lodges to come and visit their new facility.

"Richard is the treasurer, and I've been the Tiler for about 30 years," Thomas said. "That means I guard the door, mow the yard, build the building, and examine the guests."

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Deanna Pawlowski may be contacted via e-mail at deannap@corsicanadailysun.com

 

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