The North Carolina Mason

March/April 2021

North Carolina Mason

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Page 2 The North Carolina Mason March/April 2021 MAKEOVER, from page 1 He doesn't just look around and give advice. He studies blueprints, examines original architecture and studies why the lodge was built as it was. He seeks and often finds historical changes to the building that were made for good – and sometimes for expedience and low cost. He also works with brethren to find a champion or two among the members who can lead the lodge to find ways to fund repairs or renova- tions, to determine exactly what they can and should do to send the message to the world that Masons welcome inquirers, and that they play a vital role in their communi- ties. He can consult on how to make repairs and create a project plan as he works toward his licensure as an architect. He uses digital displays and clear, understandable language to report on what he has found and shares it with brothers who will lead the work. e program is not just about beautification, it's about Masonry itself. Of the 774 lodges that have opened in the history of the NC Grand Lodge (775 if you count Prometheus Lodge UD), half are still "alive," and half are "demised," meaning they are extinct, or have merged into others and dissolved. "When lodges stop working, culture is lost. Masonry becomes less visible and the face of Masonry in the community disappears," Robbins says. "A lodge building is so much more than a building. History happens here. Masonry happens here." For Grand Secretary Clapp, who retires from the office he has held for 25 years on May 1, this is an important legacy for the Grand lodge itself to leave behind. "Most lodges in trouble did not get into that condition overnight, and they won't get out of it over- night. But they truly can get out of it," he says. "We can help you start to dream again. Dream what you can do. Dream who you can be in your community. Dream of welcoming good men through your doors." As Masonry looks toward its own future and works to welcome new brothers, the public face of our lodges tell the story, he says. "To me, I wonder who wants to join something that's in a state of disrepair? It says something about Masonry that it shouldn't. We are builders. Our buildings need to be in great shape," he says. No Grand Lodge is in the finan- cial position to help repair hundreds of lodges. Local brethren need to make that decision and raise or find funding on their own. But now, and only in North Caro- lina, when they ask the NC Grand Lodge for help, they will get true, tested guidance on how to make change happen. Robbins is working with a few lodges and temples now, and has digital and paper presentations that show what can be done and why each lodge was built the way it was to begin with. He cites as one example, work under way at the Gastonia Masonic Temple. Robbins visited in 2018 and spent days measuring, studying and prowling around the historic building. Over the years, it has been well used – and shows it in places. Robbins worked long hours with a team of brothers dedicated to making change happen and to finding funding to make their dream happen. He even did some of the hands- on work himself as a way to show brothers how it can be done, He took an old window that had been painted over home, dedicated countless hours stripping the old paint and adding new coats, and restoring it to full working order. He drove it back from Raleigh to Gastonia and installed it. at window has inspired the brothers and they are eager to continue the work. "Brothers saw an example of what it could be and even in this case, how they could do it themselves," he says, "at made a huge difference. Here's what happens when you call Matthew Robbins: ■ He talks with lodge leaders and brothers to determine the need and the vision. ■ He does an on-site assessment, checking resources, the state of the building, etc. ■ He creates a digital slide deck to show what's broken and what can be fixed, and ideas for fixing them. He also offers some financial information, demo- graphics and project planning advice to round out the full picture. Oh, he can even draw up a landscaping plan for your lodge. ■ He recommends an outcome – a goal the lodge agrees is reachable. ■ That's when he steps back, and the lodge begins the real work of making the fixes. Once you see it, you believe it can happen." Any lodge can and should seek help. Robbins is available for advice and motivation as that work goes along. Once the work is done, he encourages lodges to invite their neighbors in to see the changes, to welcome the community inside. Call brothers who have drifted away and invite them for dinner (oost-COVID, of course). Welcome widows for a visit. "Let the community see who you are" he says. "Give them a tour, Hold a coffee hour. If you don't tell (or show) them who you are, they'll come up with their own conclusions." Interested in getting some advice? Contact Brother Matthew at the Grand Lodge at 919-787-2021 or email him at BEFORE AFTER Brother Robbins took home a painted-over window from the Gastonia Masonic Temple, refurbished it, brought it back and installed it in its former place. "Brothers saw an example of what it could be and even in this case, how they could do it themselves."

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