Nevadaville Masons honor Hartman


by Michelle Saeger Register Call August 25, 2006


Saturday, August 19, 2006, Nevadaville, Colorado - Masons from throughout the Denver area met on Saturday night to bestow the honor of the title of Past Master to three individuals including the 2006 Grand 'Master of Nevada Lodge No.4 in Nevadaville, Jurgan Hartman.


The Grand Master is the presiding officer of a Lodge and is chosen annually. After serving as a Grand Master, further honor can be conferred upon the member when a council of other Grand Masters decides to designate him as a Past Master.


The Ancient Free and Accepted Masons are a fraternal organization dedicated to charitable endeavors for the benefit of society and the personal growth of its members through the intrinsic rewards of membership.


The Masons are known for their charitable works including the Shriners - Hospitals for Crippled Children and - the Burns Institutes. The organization as a whole spends about $2 million per day on charitable endeavors. The Masons are also involved in scholarship programs and a Colorado Masonic Band Camp program for high school students. In Colorado alone, about $500,000 in scholarships were awarded by the Masons last year.


The Masons are an organization steeped in tradition and rich with ceremony. Their roots date back to the reconstruction of King Solomon's Temple. Modern Freemasonry is founded upon the structure, ceremonies, and symbolism of the lodges of working freemen stonemasons who built many of the European Medieval Gothic structures. Originally, the term "Masonry" meant "architecture" and included many of the artistic and scientific fields.


Because members of these medieval lodges held secrets that gave them a competitive edge in their trades, only trusted and capable people were instructed in the craft. Instruction was mainly verbal and symbolic, due to widespread illiteracy, and was received in degrees as the person became more trusted and knowledgeable. This concept carries forward today, as there are three degrees to become a Mason: Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft, and finally Master Mason.


The Masons migrated to America along with other tradesmen and fraternities to the United States in the Colonial days arriving in Boston in 1733. The Masonic Nevada Lodge No.4 in Nevadaville has a rich history that is important to our community. The number "4" in its official title designates the Nevada Lodge as the fourth lodge chartered in the Colorado Territory. The Lodge was originally organized in the Kansas Territory in 1861 but that charter was surrendered for the Colorado one when Colorado became an official territory later that same year.


The first actual Masonic Lodge structure in the Territory of Colorado was built in 1859 in Mountain City within months of the Gregory Gulch gold strike. The Lodge was constructed in just three days by local miners from logs with a pole roof covered by pine boughs and several inches of earth. The site of the original Hall (where the road separates as you enter Central City) was marked by a historic monument in 1933.


The Nevada Lodge is Colorado's oldest surviving group of Freemasons. It is the only Lodge located in a ghost town. The structure was built in 1879 by the local Freemasons for under $7,500. Prior to the construction of the Lodge, the members met on the second floor of the neighboring building. The ghost town known as Nevadaville today was originally formed as the town of Nevada in 1859 - just three weeks after John Gregory discovered gold in present-day Black Hawk. Confusion at the post office and common use of the name resulted in the alteration to Nevadaville. In its hey-day the town boasted 1,000 residents (some say up to 2,700) and a thriving commercial district. Hard times fell upon Nevadaville as the mining industry waned. A series of fires in 1861, 1887, and 1914 destroyed many of the historic buildings. Lack of potable water in the area added to its eventual decline. The town now has only six residents and a handful of commercial buildings.


The Lodge suffered some "lean years" in the 1920's - 1940's. The building was vandalized repeatedly and many of the Masons' historic emblems were stolen. Upkeep became an issue and the electricity was shut off. The windows were boarded up in 1942.


Members met in the Central City Masonic Lodge for more than two decades and discussed the merits of selling the Lodge building.


Finally, in 1964 the Masons decided to re-open the Nevadaville Lodge and with a little clean-up work were able to hold their first meeting there again in June of 1965 with a $5 per plate fundraiser to continue renovations. A heating system was finally installed in the Lodge in 1973. The kitchen was updated in 1990.


Over the years, most of the renovation work has been done by local Masons from the Nevada Lodge and other area lodges. Restoration continues currently. The group hosts an annual pancake breakfast each June as its primary fundraiser. Donations are also accepted to the Nevadaville Masonic Temple Association in care of their Lodge Secretary, Ashley Buss.


The chapter struggles to raise funds to preserve their Lodge. Like many other fraternal organizations, their membership is aging and they are seeking new blood to keep their roster full.


The Nevada Lodge #4 chapter of Freemasons meets in their historic Masonic Hall in Nevadaville twice per month (on the second and fourth Saturday in April through December) to strengthen "the bonds of friendship and fellowship". The Lodge has about on hundred members, mostly from the Denver metro area.


To be considered for membership as a Mason, you must be a man of "good character and reputation", at least 18 years old, and free-born (this antiquated requirement has yet to be removed from the prerequisites). Although not specifically religious in nature, the organization does require a belief in God for its members without dictating the type of religion that this belief takes.


According to their website (www.


"Freemasonry is the world's oldest largest Fraternity. Its history and tradition date to antiquity. Its singular purpose is to make good men better. Its bonds of friendship, compassion, and brotherly love have survived even the most divisive political, military, and religious conflicts through the centuries. Freemasonry is neither a forum nor a place for worship. Instead, it is a friend of all religions that are based on the belief in one God."


Anyone seeking membership in Freemasonry must ask a Masonic friend to recommend him. He must sign a petition stating his age, occupation, and place of residence. A unanimous vote by the membership is required for membership.