Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Part II from Pleasant Grove: Minnesota’s oldest Masonic Lodge January 30, 2017

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Masonic Lodge 22, Pleasant Grove, Minnesota

ON AN OCTOBER STOP in Pleasant Grove, Minnesota, I walked the gravel road from the town hall to the old Masonic lodge. Yes, you read that right. Gravel. Not a single paved street in this unincorporated village that is home to Minnesota’s oldest Masonic lodge chartered in 1858.

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Parked next to the Masonic Lodge.

In this settlement, you will see too many vehicles with hoods up, wood stashed in the backs of abandoned pick-up trucks, sizable wood piles and at least one grand brick and limestone house atop a hill.

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A garage next to the town hall.

Most motorists likely wouldn’t even bother to turn off Olmsted County Road 1 into this berg. It’s that unassuming. But then I am not anyone. I delight in discovering these mostly unnoticed places that others pass by.

An extraordinarily lovely historic home in Pleasant Grove.

An extraordinarily lovely historic home in Pleasant Grove.

While Pleasant Grove, which lies some 15 miles south of Rochester, may not be all neat and city-ish proper, it is still home to some. Knowing small towns as I do, I expect I was being watched while poking around.

 

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As I climbed the wooden steps to Masonic Lodge 22, I was hoping to get inside. But that was wishful thinking. Nothing’s unlocked anymore. Instead, I settled for peeking inside a front window to view a spacious room with what appears to be a kitchen in the rear.

 

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This structure, built in 1868 and rededicated in 2003, has been home to local Masons for more than 150 years. They meet here twice a month, except in the summer when it’s once/month.

 

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According to a sign out front, Lodge 22 meetings were initially held in the Green Mountain House. Google as I might, I could find no online info about that house.

 

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This historic structure also served as a store and meat market when it was built.

 

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So what, exactly, is a Mason? According to the Grand Lodge of Minnesota, freemasonry is the oldest and largest fraternal order in the world—a universal brotherhood of men dedicated to service, God, family, fellowman and country.

 

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No mention of men laying stone.

FYI: Please check for one more story in this three-part series from Pleasant Grove. Click here to read my first story.

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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8 Responses to “Part II from Pleasant Grove: Minnesota’s oldest Masonic Lodge”

  1. Gary Sankary Says:

    Hi Audrey, A small correction-
    The first lodges in Minnesota were founded in 1852. They wereSt Johns #1, Cataract #2 and Ancient Landmark #3. They were charted by the grand lodges of Wisconsin, Illinois and Ohio respectedly. in 1853 the Grand Lodge of MN was formed and MN offically began chartering lodged under their authority.

  2. Sue Ready Says:

    I delight in discovering these mostly unnoticed places that others pass by.
    I love this sentence you wrote that shows your adventuresome spirit discovering the unknown You do have a keen eye for the smallest details most might overlook. Your sharp images bring these small details to the forefront.

  3. Littlesundog Says:

    FD’s Granddad was a member of the Masonic Lodge here in town. When he and Grandmother built their new house on this property in the 1940’s, Granddad had the Masonic symbol arranged in an inconspicuous place in the rock exterior on the south side of the house. I have to look for it, but it’s there. I have no earthly idea what they do or what their purpose is.

  4. What beautiful old historic buildings. Some of the tv shows about Masons are fascinating


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