Preservation of Monuments Committee Works to Assure Preservation of Memorials
The tenets, principles, heritage, and pride of the Masonic Fraternity emanate from statues and monuments across the state that were placed and presented by the Grand Lodge on behalf of the Freemasons of Pennsylvania.
There are six Brethren dedicated to assuring that those historic statues and monuments are maintained and preserved. They make up the Grand Lodge Committee on Preservation of Monuments led by Edward H. Fowler, Jr., R.W.P.G.M., who has been the Chairman since its authorization in 1999.
After a statue, monument, or structure is given as a gift, its maintenance and preservation is the responsibility of the recipient. Freemasons want to assure that they are properly maintained and continue to reflect their Masonic relationships with dignity. Each memorial is unique, so specific and detailed maintenance is required for its preservation. Each Committee member inspects, discusses, and helps assure that proper care and maintenance are provided.
Each Committee member resides near his assigned monument or structure and devotes many hours to this activity. Each has developed a "working relationship" with the management of the host organization or entity. With the approval of the R.W. Grand Master and elected Grand Lodge Officers, funds to maintain and preserve each of the sites usually are provided from the Masonic Charities Fund that results primarily from contributions.
Click on the monument name to see more about that memorial.
John B. Law, P.M., Thomson Lodge No. 340, Paoli, tracks and reports on the condition of the George Washington at Prayer Monument overlooking the Congressional Medal of Honor Grove on the grounds of Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge. That monument was presented to the Freedoms Foundation by the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania in 1967 and rededicated in ceremonies for the 25th anniversary in 1992.
Bro. Law frequently visits the site, conferring with the management at Freedoms Foundation, and meeting with the contractors to review the work as they maintain and refurbish the statue. He commented, "Being involved in the restoration of this monument has been a great educational experience. I had the opportunity to talk with experts in the art field."
An extensive maintenance program was carried out at the site during the past Summer and Fall. In addition, a new wayside display with audio explains the significance of the George Washington at Prayer Monument, especially noting the relationship of the Father of Our Country with Masonry.
John F. Schwartz, P.M., Good Samaritan Lodge No. 336, Gettysburg, reviews and inspects the Friend to Friend Masonic Memorial Monument in the National Cemetery Annex of the Gettysburg National Military Park. The monument and facilities, along with landscaping improvements, were dedicated and contributed to the National Park Service in 1993. The Friend to Friend Monument is the first of its kind ever granted permission to be presented to the National Park Service. It also is the first monument at Gettysburg National Military Park to have the patina coloring of the principal figures portrayed by the statue. During 2002, Bro. Schwartz invested considerable time and talent while extensive work was accomplished to restore the original patina.
The costs to maintain and improve the monument are to be covered by the income from a Maintenance Trust Agreement that the Grand Lodge established with the National Park Service. Only the income from that Trust can be used for maintenance. Bro. Schwartz's efforts and concern have fostered wonderful support and cooperation from the management at the Gettysburg National Military Park in maintaining the facility and periodically lighting the monument.
Daniel J. Hinds, P.M., Covenant-Excelsior Lodge No. 456, Philadelphia, Superintendent of the Masonic Temple in Philadelphia, reports on the condition of the Benjamin Franklin Craftsman Monument. The statue, which was given to the City of Philadelphia, is located on the northwest corner of Broad St. and John F. Kennedy Blvd., directly across the street from the Masonic Temple. Bro. Hinds inspects the statue periodically and works very closely with the City of Philadelphia's Preservation Committee to make certain that it is properly maintained.
There is a duplicate monument of Brother Franklin -- Craftsman located near the Freemasons Cultural Center at the Masonic Homes at Elizabethtown, which is maintained by that facility.
William L. Kingsbury, P.M., Melita Lodge No. 295, Philadelphia, reviews and inspects the condition of the reconstructed National Memorial Arch on the grounds of the Valley Forge National Historical Park. The National Memorial Arch had stood for more than eight decades until it fell into disrepair and was closed to the public for safety reasons. The Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania undertook the restoration of the historical Arch and in 1997 unveiled the restored National Memorial Arch.
Bro. Kingsbury also reviews the upkeep of the Freemasons' Memorial monument at the base of the American flag facing the Arch. That was placed by the Grand Lodge in conjunction with the contribution of the reconstruction of the Arch in 1997. The original agreement called for the lighting of the Freemasons' monument, but that had not occurred. As a result of Bro. Kingsbury's efforts and cooperation with the management, extensive progress has been achieved on the maintenance of the monument, surrounding grounds, and placement of lighting fixtures.
William M. Kratzenberg, P.D.D.G.M., inspects and reports on the condition and improvements to the structures and Masonic monument at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Aspinwall, north of Pittsburgh. The Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania constructed and contributed a recreational pavilion, improved landscaping, and placed a monument there in 1999. Bro. Kratzenberg has developed a close working relationship with the Administration and goes to the VA Medical Center regularly to inspect the improvements and to visit with the veterans.