Each early spring, Masonic lodges across Massachusetts open their doors to the public to welcome visitors and give local residents a chance to see what they're all about.
This Saturday, the Freemasons lodges welcoming visitors will include both the Gloucester Lodge on Eastern Avenue and the Manchester Lodge, located at 10 Church St. in Manchester-By-The-Sea.
All of the lodges will be hosting their open houses from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
"If you've ever wondered who the Freemasons are, whether they are the descendants of the Knights Templars, or what the inside of their building looks like, here's your chance to find out," Eric Bergengren, Master of the Manchester Lodge, said in a prepared statement.
Freemasons trace their history back to the stonemason guilds that built Europe's cathedrals and castles, Bergengren noted. Organized in Massachusetts more than 275 years ago, they have been an integral part of our nation's history. North American Freemasons donate more than $3 million every day to charity, with more than 70 percent of their contributions and civic service benefiting the general public.
At Saturday's open houses, more than 230 lodges will be hosting open houses to help the public gain a better understanding of what Freemasonry is, and the positive impact that is has on its members, their families, and community. Members will provide tours of their building, talk about Freemasonry's history, discuss its rituals, signs, and symbols, and explain what they do, Bergengren said.
"The 2012 Spring Open House is a great opportunity for anyone interested in learning more about Freemasonry to meet and talk with Masons in their community," added Richard J. Stewart, Massachusetts' Grand Master of Masons and the presiding officer of 36,000 members.
"Although many have heard of us," he said, "Very few are aware that for over 275 years we have been part of an unbroken tradition of great men who have changed our world in ways both big and small."
The membership history of the Freemasons, for example, has included Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Thurgood Marshall and John Glenn.
"There are countless other great men, whose names are not widely known, that made their families, workplaces, and communities better because they were Masons. I warmly invite the public to join us."
Anyone seeking additional information may call 1-800-882-1020, or visit askafreemason.org.