St. George’s Lodge No. 4
In the 1970’s it became apparent that the old Lodge Building required major repairs. A letter was issued to all members in 1975 advising them of the recently established Building Fund. The Brethren faced some very difficult decisions in those years as it became evident that the declining membership could not finance the needed repairs to the aging building. Concern with the safety of the structure prompted discussion on an alternate site for the Grand Lodge Visitation in 1976.
A Committee was appointed to explore every aspect of the building and to obtain estimates of the repairs needed. Amid reports that the large safe which had been purchased from the North Wiltshire Railway Station three years earlier had fallen through the floor, the Committee was asked to “look at the Lodge as a hole (sic).” The spelling error may have been partly tongue-in-cheek on the part of the Secretary. The Committee was freed to apply for any Government grant and to arrange a possible loan from the Grand Lodge Benevolent Fund. The Committee included W.Bro. Spurgeon Walker PM, W.Bro. Dan Ward PM, W.Bro. Warren MacDonald PM and W.Bro. H.M. Smith PM. In September, 1976 Bro. Walker reported that a $5000. loan from Grand Lodge was requested and an application for a L.I.P. Grant of
$14,450 was forwarded. The Brethren were encouraged by some senior members of Grand Lodge including M.W.Bro. A.E. Lavers PGM and R.W.Bro. J. Bertram Larkin, Grand Treasurer, who spoke on the “the importance to the Masonic order to try and have the Building repaired..”
On October 6, 1976 Grand Lodge Visitation was held in the old Hall. The Grand Master, M.W.Bro. Hazen MacLure presented his portrait to the Lodge. A motion was adopted to hold future Communications of St. George’s Lodge in the United Church Hall. The final Communication in the old Hall was held on November 2, 1976. Worshipful Master Bro. Raymond Shaw was completing his year but agreed to stay on for another year when it was pointed out that the Master-Elect had not served as a Warden.
The year 1977 was a decisive and emotionally-charged one for St. George’s Lodge. The Brethren learned that their L.I.P. Application was denied and that the annual interest on the Grand Lodge Loan would be $200. The Brethren agreed that given the size of membership, the Lodge could not finance the kind of project that was needed. Bro. Martin MacLeod, Senior Steward, said that there was lots of lumber in his woods for the sills. It was just a matter of getting it out. That message typified the deep sentiment of many of the members for the old Hall.
The Brethren tried many avenues to save the Hall in 1977. A Neighbourhood Improvement Program was investigated but it required a 40% payment from the applicant. Grand Lodge did not offer free loans. The prospect of waiting one year and applying again for a L.I.P. grant was rejected. The Georgetown Town Council was approached to take over the building as an Historic Site, to fix up the building under a N.I.P. grant and to lease it to the Lodge. On June 7, 1977 a motion was adopted giving the three Trustees authority to make a deal with the Town to demolish the building and clean up the site in return for the lot (119ʹ x 64ʹ). The Worshipful Master asked “for a show of hands those who were in favour of letting the old Building go and rent a meeting place.” All hands (12) were raised.