Lodge celebrates 200th anniversary
Chartered by the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons (F & AM) on Aug. 27, 1817, Landmark Lodge #41 Free and Accepted Masons will celebrate this milestone on Saturday, Aug. 26, with a marker dedication. The program will begin at 5 p.m. on the street level at 141 North Main Street in Versailles, where the Woodford County Chamber of Commerce and Shelter Insurance Company are located on the first floor. At that time, a Kentucky State Highway Marker will be erected on the street level of this building. To qualify for one of these markers, a program jointly administered by the Kentucky Historical Society and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, which meets twice a year, has a lengthy application process. This process requires documentation verified in writing with numerous regulations and restrictions. Once approval is jointly granted by these two groups, the costs of these bronze markers are borne by the applicant groups. As of 2003, there were 77 of these markers in Woodford County and more than 2,400 of these markers throughout Kentucky now. This fraternal organization was begun in Europe several hundred years before 1817. Landmark Lodge #41's original Masonic Hall building was located at 125 Morgan Street in one of the city's oldest buildings. They moved from there in 1876 and rented temporary quarters from the International Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF). In 1881, upon completion of their own new building, they moved to 126 South Main Street. They remained there until they purchased their current building in 1986. Their facility now houses 200 years of ledger books and other items of memorabilia specific to their group. For many years, this lodge's primary philanthropic service has been to help the youths of Versailles, aiding in changing the lives of many at-risk young people in our community. Since its inception, the highest state level of this group, Grand Master, has been attained by three of its members: John McKinney Jr., William Brown Jr., and Chris L. Stout. Local notable dignitaries who were or are members of this group include the late two term governor, U.S. Senator and Major League Baseball Commissioner A.B. "Happy" Chandler, country music star John Conlee Jr, and former Woodford County sheriff and current county Judge-Executive John Coyle. Coincidentally, another chapter of the Free and Accepted Masons was formed in Millersburg on the same date as the Versailles group organized. Thus, earlier in the day on Aug. 25, their lodge will celebrate 200 years of existence in this Bourbon County community. Members of these "twin lodges" get together outside of meetings, often for outings together, along with other family members. Landmark Lodge #41 currently has 84 members. They meet at 7:30 p.m. on the first and third Mondays of each month. For more information on this organization, contact Gary Finnell at (859) 873-8543. The public is invited to join lodge members and their families for the marker's dedication ceremony.