Volume LIXJanuary 2012Number 1

Datestone Ceremony Celebrates Vision, Accomplishment & Leadership

In celebration of the great work accomplished during the construction of the Masonic Village at Sewickley's new nursing center, now called the Sturgeon Health Care Center, the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania held a date stone ceremony on Thursday, Nov. 3. The event recognized Masons whose vision culminated in the impressive 64,000 square foot addition and dedicated the building to the ideals of Freemasonry and to the Masonic Villages' Mission of Love.

At the beginning of the ceremony, the Grand Lodge recognized Bro. James L. Ernette, R.W.P.G.M., for his leadership in founding the Masonic Village at Sewickley on June 1, 1999, and the dream, vision and shared Mission of Love Freemasonry realized through the village since then. A plaque will hang in his honor.

The date stone ceremony is an ancient and symbolic ceremony performed during the construction of a building. The ceremony has remained the same since President and Bro. George Washington laid the cornerstone of the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 18, 1793.

In Sewickley, after paying homage to our nation and prayer, Bro. Kim W. Jeffreys, P.D.D.G.M., Chairman of the Building Committee, presented the prepared date stone to then-R.W. Grand Master Thomas K. Sturgeon. R.W. Grand Treasurer Jeffrey W. Coy placed the memorabilia and gifts in the date stone, to be permanently kept in the building's outer wall, before R. W. Grand Secretary Mark A. Haines read a list of the articles deposited, which included the Grand Master's medallion and lapel pin, Mrs. Joan Sturgeon's ladies' pin, "Ahiman Rezon," date stone ceremony program, 2010 and 2011 issues of "The Pennsylvania Freemason," local newspapers and other timely pieces.

Then-R.W. Junior Grand Warden Raymond T. Dietz and then-R.W. Senior Grand Warden Robert J. Bateman assisted then-R.W. Deputy Grand Master Jay W. Smith in determining that the date stone was plumb, level, square and ready to be ceremonially laid by then-Grand Master Sturgeon. He spread cement on the stone as a symbolic gesture of spreading brotherly love. This was doubly symbolic as it represented the spreading of the Mission of Love provided by the Masonic Villages. With three strikes of the gavel upon the stone, the Grand Master set the date stone.

"I, Thomas K. Sturgeon, R.W. Grand Master of Masons in Pennsylvania, and Masonic jurisdiction thereunto belonging, declare this date stone to be plumb, level and square and so duly laid according to the ancient usages, customs and landmarks of Freemasonry, and may the Great Architect of Heaven and Earth bless the work here begun and make it memorable to the latest generations," the Grand Master said.

Corn, wine and oil were then poured on the date stone with supplication that the Sturgeon Health Care Center may be showered with blessings, that those within may be kept safe and prosper in their labors, and that peace should unify the nations of the earth through the work done in the community.

After Bro. Stephen Burdick, Titusville Lodge No. 754, contractor with Weber Murphy Fox, Inc., and James Mehaffey, architect with RLPS Architects, surrendered the plans for the nursing center, Grand Marshal Jon A. Fair declared the date stone laid. It was not until after laying the date stone that then-Grand Master Sturgeon learned that the Committee on Masonic Homes had voted to name the nursing community in his honor for his dedication to supporting the project during his term.

As Chairman of the Committee on Masonic Homes, Bro. Coy said, "For your untiring efforts at the rebuilding of our beloved fraternity; for your inspiring Renaissance at bringing meaningful changes to our craft; for your example of firm leadership; for your commitment to all of our brothers; and for being the Grand Master in recent times to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for our Masonic Villages; now, therefore, the Committee of Masonic Home's acting unanimously, does hereby name this building the "Sturgeon Health Care Center at Masonic Village at Sewickley."

The two new wings of the Sturgeon Health Care Center are expected to be completed by the end of March 2012, after which renovations to the pre-existing 43,000 square foot building will begin. The final project will cost approximately $20 million.

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