Volume LIVAugust 2007Number 3

Lodge Preserves Masonic Monuments

Each year, the brothers of St. Alban Lodge No. 529, Waynesburg, work together to clean up the Mount Moriah Cemetery in Southwest Philadelphia and preserve its Masonic monuments honoring past brothers.

The cemetery, featuring an elaborate Romanesque entrance and brownstone gatehouse designed by noted Philadelphia architect Stephen D. Button, was built at a time when the city was on the verge of a renaissance. Philadelphia, once known for its small church-side graveyards within city blocks, was making its mark on the world, with large Paris-inspired pastoral cemeteries indicative of its progress. Laurel Hill Cemetery, built in 1836, was among the first of its kind, followed by Monument Cemetery, the Woodlands Cemetery and eventually Mount Moriah Cemetery in 1855.

Through the years, Mount Moriah Cemetery grew from 54 acres to span 380 acres, straddling Cobbs Creek into Delaware County. Its vastness allowed the cemetery to become the final resting place for all classes of Philadelphians, both prominent and average, as well as to apportion land to churches, institutions and fraternal organizations, such as the Freemasons.

Unfortunately, the latter half of the 20th century saw the gradual deterioration of Mount Moriah Cemetery, deemed a National Historical Landmark, and many other Philadelphia cemeteries. This neglect was the focal point of an article in the Sunday edition of The Philadelphia Inquirer on May 25, 2003. A recently raised brother of St. Alban Lodge read the article and immediately made the connection between the name Mount Moriah and the possibility of a Masonic link, since it figures prominently in Masonic ritual and is reflected in the names of many other lodges.

The brother decided to travel to the site to make his own assessment of the situation. His effort disclosed that there was terrible overgrowth and conditions were truly as bad as depicted in The Philadelphia Inquirer's story, but more significantly to St. Alban Lodge, he confirmed a substantial Masonic presence in the cemetery. Making an initial foray into the brush, he discovered an imposing monument with definite Masonic symbolism. As it turned out, it marked the final resting place of Past Grand Tyler William B. Schnider. Further inspection of the surrounding area disclosed many other monuments and vaults testifying to Masonic burials and making reference to Royal Arch and other Masonic organizations.

After a great deal of effort and judicious application of a machete, weed whacker and mower, it became evident that there had been a great deal of planning given to the location. The primary burial monument was oriented so Bro. Schnider's sculpted bas relief bust faces the East. It was situated at the apex of the highest ground in the cemetery and is central to two concentric paths, making it "A Point Within A Circle." Furthermore, the inscription states:

JUNE 24th, A.D. 1871 A.L. 5871

The brothers of St. Alban Lodge have made a number of trips since 2003 and continue a great effort to restore the grounds in this vicinity to the "harmony and good order" befitting the brethren and their families who have traveled to that "house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens." Those efforts have expanded from just a physical cleanup of the area to working with the City of Philadelphia and exploring legal options to assure this venerable place is maintained properly.

Aside from this ongoing project, in September, the lodge will sponsor and host the annual International Gathering of Lodges Named St. Alban, an event that will welcome Masons from all over the globe to the United States and Philadelphia.

Credits: Brothers R.D. Kerr, Waynesburg Lodge No. 153, and Robert Stauffer, P.M., St. Alban Lodge No. 529, Waynesburg

Warren Lodge Dedicates Library to Marvin A. Cunningham, Sr.

On May 5, at a stated meeting of Warren Lodge No. 310, Collegeville, the members dedicated a library to Bro. Marvin A. Cunningham, Sr., R.W.P.G.M., for his Masonic achievements and the prestige he has brought to his lodge.

Left to right: Brothers Edward H. Bisbee, S.W.; Marvin A. Cunningham, Sr., R.W.P.G.M., and his wife, Rosalie; Jeffrey R. Skelton, W.M.; George K. Staub, Jr., J.W.; and Alexander J. Hall II, P.M., Secretary

Freedom Lodge Pays Respect to Bro. Seeley

Members of Freedom Lodge No. 328, Thompson, traveled to Arlington National Cemetery, Va., to pay respect and honor their brother, Master Sergeant Robert J. Seeley, who had served his country for 20 years in the United States, Europe, Korea and Iceland, with a Masonic Funeral Service. Bro. Seeley was laid to rest with full military honors. The Masonic service was conducted at the niche in the columbarium following the military service.

Left to right: Brothers Robert Benson, P.M.; Nathan A. Foster, D.D.G.M. 15; Elson R. Stone, P.M.; Charles S. Welch, P.M.; Erwin Hermann, P.M.; Gary A. Gray, P.M.; Eugene R. Graves, P.M.; and Timothy C. Burke.

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