Annual fundraiser breakfast

Lynn Volkens, Gilpin County News July 13, 2006


The members of Nevada Lodge Number 4, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of Colorado, held their annual fundraiser breakfast Sunday morning. With overcast skies, a steady gray drizzle and drifts of fog wafting along at ground level, the atmosphere in Nevadaville couldn't have been more like a ghost town if it had been staged that way. However, the human activity in the old town above Central City couldn't have been livelier. Cars lined the dirt street. Clusters of people hailed newcomers, or stood chatting and laughing on the wooden sidewalks. Nevada 4's event is one of the few times their building, dating from 1879, is open to the public. The opportunity to see that part of the town's history firsthand is enough on its own to draw fellow Masons and history buffs from near and far. (The enticing aromas of coffee, scrambled eggs, pancakes, ham and sausage that wafted from the open doors didn't hurt, either.)


Rehabilitation of the square stone building began seriously in 1965 and has been ongoing ever since. The red brick-faced edifice bears seven tall narrow windows on the second floor. At street level, two sets of windowed double doors are flanked by floor-to-ceiling window walls. These, in turn, are flanked by wooden columns. The trim on all is painted crisp white, giving the building a well-cared-for fresh look. Much of the work is done by Lodge member work crews who devote weekends and spare time to installing plumbing, wiring, drywall and other structural improvements.


Then there's the period wallpaper, the molded ceiling, meticulous painting and the smaller detail work needed to restore the interior decor. Much has symbolic placement and meaning - all revealed to the inquisitive by Nevada 4's Own "illuminati" - friendly lodge members who open doors, explain subject matter in paintings, the significance of furnishings and Masonic history, both in general and specific to the Nevadaville Lodge. "The only real secret in Masonry," said one docent, "is that there is no secret." Another referred skeptics to Barnes and Noble, where he said he'd found more than one book about Freemasonry, including ritual language and details.


Besides Nevadaville's, there are Masonic lodges in Central City and Black Hawk. (Black Hawk's lodge now meets in Lakewood.) All are historic (dating to the Gold Rush days) and unique. All contribute to charitable organizations. Discussion at table (between bites and sips) reached consensus that, nationwide, Masonic donations top $3.4 million - per day. Much of it goes to the Shriner's burn centers and hospitals. Local chapters have been especially generous in offering scholarships and sponsorships for Gilpin students. The Nevada 4's fundraiser breakfast will help fund their charitable works and renovation of their building.


Lodge members had been worried the weather would keep people away, but the large dining area of the hall filled several times with people seated at long tables enjoying their food and conversation. About the only damper on the day was a lack of parking, due to a new rail fence blocking an area across from the lodge. The privately owned area has historically been used for "overflow" parking at the once a year event, so the fence presented a challenge. "Can't do" doesn't seem to be in the Masonic vernacular, however. Faced with the new obstacle, Jurgen Hartman, the current Master of Nevada 4 Lodge, donned a black derby and transformed into shuttle driver, using his van to convey people from a parking lot below, up to the lodge, and back again.


People visited while riding or waiting for "Masonic Transit," turning what could have been an unwelcome delay into pleasant pastime as they shared lore or browsed the antique and general store. (Owners of the shops had opened up for the occasion.) About 350 people turned out for the "all-you-can-eat" morning feast.