Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
Morning Star, February 22, 2004, pg. 2
We had the opportunity to tour the Eslow Block and Caines paint store buildings on January 24 and took photographs of the architecture and various features therein. It could be easily seen how the Eslow Block was used as additional hotel space for the Commercial Hotel next door during its heyday. We also saw where the hallway led into the Commercial building from the catwalk had been bricked over. There appears to be some quality salvageable historical architectural items (such as numerous doors and tin ceiling tiles) of value inside that could have practical use for future projects elsewhere. Antique dealers crave such items, and perhaps our city could at least recover some money from the investment of our tax dollars that had went into those buildings.
Albion’s oldest organization is no more. The Murat Lodge No. 14 of the Free and Accepted Masons has closed the local Masonic Temple at 204 W. Center St., and the group has “merged” with the St. Albans Lodge in Marshall. For the historical record, the Masonic emblem cornerstone along with the outside signs were removed on Friday, February 6.
The Masons had been in that building ever since they purchased the 1913-built Eagle Temple from the Eagles in 1925. Income for its upkeep had been partially derived from renting the first floor to the Michigan Employment Security Commission, and the Camp Fire Girls during the 1980s, and to the Albion Public Schools which held its alternative education classes there during the 1990s. With the re-configuration of the schools this past year, the school closed in June 2003, leaving substantially less income for building expenses. With a dwindled membership and the loss of rent income, the decision was made to close. The building is now offered for sale.
The Albion Murat Lodge was organized several years prior to the Civil War on January 13, 1854, thus making it Albion’s longest such-existing group. The first Worshipful Master of the group at the time was local attorney Thomas G. Pray. Prior to that time, the Olive Branch Lodge of the F & AM had been organized on May 9, 1846, which was the predecessor of the Murat Lodge. Subsequently, the Albion Chapter of the Royal Arch Masons No. 32 was organized in 1863, and the Order of the Eastern Star in 1868. Through the years, most of Albion’s prominent citizens were members of these Lodges, and their memberships totaled in the hundreds.
On May 8, 1854, the Murat Lodge celebrated it’s 100th anniversary with a banquet at Baldwin Hall at Albion College. Over 350 persons attended the event. In commemoration of the centennial, a special brass uniface medal was issued, which we are illustrating in our Historical Notebook this week. It measures 31 mm. in diameter. The outer legend reads, “MURAT LODGE No. 14 F. & A. M. ALBION, MICH.” An inner ring contains the legend “100 YEARS 1854-1954,” with the Masonic compass and square emblem in the center.
Masonic Murat Lodge Token
All text copyright, 2016 © all rights reserved Frank Passic