Guide to Cornerstone Laying

 What a Lodge has to prepare for before the Cornerstone is laid.

 The local Lodge or members of the local Lodge should contact the people who are building a new building or putting an addition on to an existing building, to see if they would like Grand Lodge to perform a ceremony of a cornerstone laying.  There is also a Symbolic Cornerstone laying.  Cornerstone laying is only performed on School buildings, public structures, or places of Worship.  In no instance is it proper for Masons to lay the cornerstone of any other than a public or Masonic edifice; and then only by special request from the proper authorities.

 Your Grand Lodge Secretary sometimes has a video to show the ceremony.  This will help the building people make up their minds if they want it performed or not. Also a building will have to have a cornerstone planned for the building. Some new buildings do not have cornerstones.  You may have to sell this idea to them.  Your local Lodge will have to get the local dignitaries (Mayor, School Superintend, Fire Chief, Police Chief, etc.) prepare a short speech and have them at the ceremony.  The Grand Lodge Orator will need some information on the town history, building, and or history of the person the building is being dedicated to.  The local Lodge should prepare a Lunch for the Grand Lodge elected officers and Local dignitaries.  You can charge the other people invited for their meal. The local Lodge will have to have their Lodge room set up to open Grand Lodge before the ceremony and after the lunch and leave it until after the ceremony to close Grand Lodge.

Information to be supplied to Grand Lodge Office

The following information should be sent to the Grand Lodge Office no later than two months before the ceremony so that official notices may be sent in a timely fashion:

1. Time and place of luncheon / refreshments, if planned.

2. If no-host, complimentary to whom (Grand Master and Local Dignitaries).

3. Time and place of opening Grand Lodge.

4. Time and place (Location or address) of cornerstone ceremony.

5. Is social hour planned after ceremony and closing of Grand Lodge?

6. Suggested overnight lodging, if required.  Names, phone numbers, and address of motels in area where Grand Lodge Officers may make reservations.

7. Any special directions which may be required. 

Symbolic Cornerstone Laying

This is similar to the Cornerstone laying except the cornerstone is placed on a tripod and the ceremony is performed inside the building out of the weather.  The cornerstone is then put in its place by regular stone masons sometime after the ceremony is completed.

The cornerstone is normally placed on the face of the building, or front Northwest side of the building.  It can be placed in a flag pole structure (or other structure similar) close to the building. 

The ceremony is conducted by the Grand Master in person or by a Special Deputy, and can be varied according to conditions existing, the number present, and the character of the edifice to be erected.  If it be a national, state or city public building, the chief executive officers may be assigned places of honor in the procession, but not as actual participants in the ceremonial exercises.  At the time appointed, the Grand Lodge will be opened in a convenient place, preferred the local Lodge; the brethren assume their proper clothing and jewels, wearing white gloves; (the local Lodge will furnish white gloves to those who do not have them) the necessary instructions are given.  Martial music should be provided.

Inscription

The cornerstone for building should be cut: with the Name of the building, City or County officers, or Board of directors, and who the building is dedicated to, Laid by the M. W. Grand Lodge of F. & A. M. of (state), Date in full, A. L. 6000, Grand Master’s name, Grand Master.  Or it may just have the Masonic emblem.

If it is for a Masonic building, the stone must be inscribed on the front side of the stone:  Laid by the M. W. Grand Lodge of F. & A. M. of (state), Date in full, A. L. 6000, Grand Master’s Name, Grand Master. 

i.e.: Smith Town Library
     Joe Smith, Mayor
     City Council Members:
     Tom Jones
     Sally Smyth
     Joe Alfred

Cornerstone Laid by the M. W. Grand Lodge of F. & A. M. of (state), Date in full, A. L. 6000, Grand Master’s name, Grand Master.

For school buildings, public structures or places of worship, the presence of the name of the Grand Lodge and or Masonic emblem is at the option of the governing bodies.  Should the use of the same be allowed, it is recommended that the name of the Grand Lodge and the date be inscribed.

A cavity must be cut in the building on the under side of the cornerstone for the box of deposits.

The Sealed Metal Box or Tube: 

A metal box or tube should be provided to hold the memorial materials to be placed therein.  (Recently, a durable plastic receptacle is being used instead of metal.)  These memorial items may consist of a Grand Lodge Roster, a roster of the Officers and members of the local Lodge, the Directory of the Grand Lodge for the current year, newspaper (articles) containing a story about the new building, names and titles of distinguished guests or public officials participating in the program or building of the structure, coins stamps, or any other memorial material which would impart information whenever the box might be opened again.  If the building is being dedicated to a Specific Person then newspaper articles and information on that person should be included.  The box or tube should be on the secretary’s desk for the use of the Grand Secretary at the time the Grand Lodge is opened.

List of Contents

A list of the memorial material placed in the box or tube should be handed to the Grand Secretary before Grand Lodge is Opened.

A triumphal arch is usually erected at the place where the ceremony is to be performed.  A convenient and safe platform should be built, for the officers and choir.  (this is not always necessary a small stage or a place in front of the room with chairs enough to seat the Grand Master, Deputy Grand Master, Senior Grand Warden, Junior Grand Warden, Grand Secretary, Grand Chaplain, Grand Architect, Grand Orator and Grand Marshal to the left of the podium the dignitaries to the right of the podium.  The cornerstone and the podium is placed in between the dignitaries and Grand Lodge members.) 

The cornerstone may be of any dimension - granite, marble, brass or other compound.  In some public buildings the symbolic stone is placed inside and a plastic or similar material cover placed over receptacle cavity.

Tools Needed by Local Lodge for Ceremony

Wooden setting mall, Trowel, Square, Plumb, Level, Wardens’ staffs and Stewards’ staffs. Opening and closing ceremony:  To perform this ceremony, the Grand Lodge is opened in Special Communication, and the Grand Lodge Officers and acting officers will occupy the stations and places.  The Grand Lodge should be set up with all necessary equipment, etc., for the use by the Grand Lodge Officers.

Pro-Tem and Special Officers

In case some of the Grand Lodge Officers may be absent, it is always well to have Brothers (preferably Past Masters) standing by to fill vacancies.

If an Officer (who has a speaking part) is absent, the Grand Master will notify someone in advance to be prepared to fill in for the absent officer.

Master Architect

Someone from your Lodge should be notified well in advance of the ceremony date to learn the part of the Architect.

Before the ceremony all Grand Lodge Officers and all masons present line up outside the room and march in.

A sample Ceremony can be found below:

 

Cornerstone Consecration Ceremony

Day, Date, Year A.L. at High Twelve

To All Who Shall Witness this Ceremony Greetings:

The officers of _______________ LODGE NO. ___ (or Grand Lodge) have assembled here to lay in due and ancient Masonic form a symbolic cornerstone for (Name of Lodge or Building).  From its earliest known history Master Masons have had an immemorial right to gather and dedicate Lodges, Public Buildings and memorials to our two patron saints… Saint John the Baptist and Saint John the Evangelist.  By emulating their worthy example we as Master Masons do humbly dedicate and commemorate this (Name of Lodge or Building) in their honor.

I, Worshipful Master (or Grand Master) _______________, now order that the officers of _______________ LODGE NO. ____ (or Grand Lodge) assist me in the performance of this work.  It is therefore my will and pleasure Brother Senior Warden that you proclaim it to the Junior Warden, and he to the Brethren and others present, that all, having due notice, may govern themselves accordingly.

Senior Warden _________________ addressed the Junior Warden, and informed him that it was the order of the Worshipful Master that this symbolic cornerstone be laid with Masonic honors.

"This you will proclaim to all present, that the occasion may be observed with due order and solemnity."

Junior Warden _______________ said:

"Brethren and all who are present, take notice that the Worshipful Master will now cause to be tested and tried the foundation stone, that he may lay it in due Masonic form. You will therefore observe that order and decorum becoming this solemn occasion."

The Chaplain then invoked divine assistance in the work begun with the following prayer:

Invocation

Great Architect of the Universe, Fountain of light, and life, peace and joy, vouchsafe we humbly beseech thee from thy Heavenly Temple thy blessing upon us, and our present work. Direct us with thy most gracious favor, and further us with thy continual help, that this work begun, continued and ended in thee, may glorify thy holy name.

Send down the abundance of thy grace upon these Lodges and its Officers, here met in thy name and presence, to lay the symbolic cornerstone of this (Name of Lodge or Building) erected to commemorate your patron Saints. See that nothing may hinder the completion of this work as a tribute of gratitude to thee, and of affection to thy servants. Built with no untempered mortar, but cemented in unity and strength and fashioned in symmetry and beauty, may this Lodge be the sign and symbol of power and glory of one united Brotherhood.  May the present work of laying this foundation be true to the square, the level and the plumb, inspire individual character that shall be true to the principles of justice and righteousness of purity and equity and of universal liberty.

Incline thine ear and hear the voice of our prayer, and may our labors rest in your everlasting arms, and our waking be the grand summons – of thy children to the joy and triumph of the Lion of the tribe of Judah, in the City and Temple not made with hands, eternal in the Heavens.

AMEN

The Brethren forming two sides of a square on the south and west of the cornerstone and Memorial Statue. The Lodge Officers in the center.

The Lodge Treasurer then read and described a list of objects to be deposited under the foundation stone, together with a full list of the names of the Lodge Officers, Charter and Brethren who officiated in laying the cornerstone.

The Lodge Secretary then read the following inscription to be cut upon the stone:

THE SYMBOLIC CORNERSTONE OF THIS BUILDING was laid (date) A.L. by Worshipful Master (His Name) accompanied by the following named Officers of __________ LODGE NO. ____ and with appropriate Masonic ceremonies and amidst the acclamations of the Brethren. ____________, Senior Warden and __________________, Junior Warden.

The Officers then placed themselves around the cornerstone of the memorial statue; the Worshipful Master on the East; the Senior Warden on the West and the Junior Warden on the South. The Worshipful Master was satisfied to see that the Craftsman had well and truly prepared the cornerstone to be now laid and took his square and laid it upon the stone and said, "I find this stone square, and the Craftsmen have well and truly done their work." The Senior Warden was requested to see that the stone had been prepared, and that it was true and trusty. Placing his level upon the stone he said, "Worshipful Master, I find the stone level, and that the Craftsmen have prepared the stone true and trusty." In like manner, the Junior Warden took the plumb, in accordance with directions, and tested the stone, which he replied, he found plumb. The Worshipful Master favorably finding that the stone was ready to be laid, took a trowel that was handed him, and the stone was lowered on the cement.  A gavel was then handed him, he struck the stone three times and proclaimed:

"I, as WORSHIPFUL MASTER OF _______ LODGE, hereby declare this cornerstone to be duly laid, square, level and plumb, and may the Grand Architect of Heaven and Earth, bless the work here begun, and crown this splendid edifice with every success; and may it be considered, for time immemorial, a model of taste and genius and serve to transmit with honor to posterity the names of the artists engaged in it."

The Worshipful Master then received from the Junior Warden the Cornucopia containing corn and dropped the corn upon the cornerstone of the Lodge or Building saying:

"May the health of the workmen employed in this undertaking be preserved to them, and may the Supreme Architect bless and prosper their labors."

The Junior Warden then took the wine from the table and presents it to the Senior Warden, who pours it on the cornerstone of the memorial statue saying:

"May plenty be showered down upon all the people of Earth, and may the blessings of the bounteous giver of all things attend their philanthropic undertakings."

The Junior Warden then took the oil from the table and poured it upon the cornerstone of the memorial statue saying:

May the Supreme Ruler of the world preserve all people in peace, and vouchsafe to them the enjoyment of every blessing."

The Worshipful Master then said,

"May corn, wine and oil, and all the necessities of life abound among men throughout the world, and may the blessings of the Supreme Architect be upon this undertaking, a memorial statue to Master Masons past, present and future here to be erected and dedicated to the Holy Saints John be preserved to the latest posterity.

The Chaplain then closed the Masonic Ceremonies with the following prayer.

Grand Architect thou art very great; thou art clothed with honor and majesty. Thou did lay the foundations of the Earth, and ordain laws for its stability, which continue to this day. The heavens are the work of thy hands, thou did garnish them with all their furniture and weave the web of all their beauty.

At thy bidding the light dawned, the flowers bloomed, the forest clapped their hands, the morning stars sang together, and the sons of God shouted aloud for joy. We also are thy workmanship, for thou did form man and woman in your own image and likeness, the crown and flower of creation, the monarch of its soil and tribes, the great high priest to offer unto thee praise and thanksgiving.

And although we have lost our native home and pristine purity thou has not left us to darkness and despair.

Thou art our salvation, and the hope of all ends of the Earth; and on this day in which we embark on our journey with this new Lodge we would render to thee our tribute of praise for the goodly heritage thou has given us.

We thank thee for fostering care and multiplied mercies, by which a little one has become a thousand and the small one true and strong. And though for our many and grievous sins thou has sent heavy judgments upon us, thy mercy endure forever. Our transgressions are ever before thee, we implore forgiveness at thy hands, and a continuance of thy loving kindness and mercy.

May the cornerstone of this (Lodge or Building) here erected and dedicated to our patron Saints be a star of radiance and glory for future generations.

And may returning anniversaries find a grateful, prosperous, heaven blessed people, prompt it cherish the memory, and if need be imitate the noble virtues and patriotic devotion of those Brethren who came before us.

And may the Supreme Grand Architect ascribe praise and glory forevermore.

AMEN

 

         

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