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Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 41, September 1997

CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION

The Masonic Lodge at Paeroa, Lodge Ohinemuri - 107, celebrated its centennial on 27 July 1996. About 120 lodge members from Auckland, Thames and Waikato attended the centenary meeting on Saturday afternoon, while their wives and partners were entertained at the Paeroa Racecourse Lounge. As part of the proceedings at the meeting, Mr Ron Stout spoke on the history of the Lodge and the Centennial Jewel was presented to members.

Following the formal meeting at the Masonic Lodge,the members joined their wives and partners at the Racecourse for the centennial dinner and official toasts followed by social activities. A highlight for the Ohinemuri Lodge Grandmaster, Bryan Schuler, was the presentation of an Address of Appreciation recognising his contribution to the Lodge, in particular his serving as Grandmaster for three successive terms.

A booklet outlining the formation of the Lodge and its early history was produced for the occasion.

HISTORY

Early in 1896 local members of the Masonic Lodge met together with the idea of establishing a Lodge in Paeroa. The first efforts to achieve this aim were made by Mr W Forrest and Mr C Rhodes. They obtained a list of names of Masons residing in the district and convened a meeting at the home of Mr Edwin Edwards Snr. After a number of meetings to settle details it was decided to form a Lodge to be named "Ohinemuri" and forty members signed as Foundation Members. They came from many different Lodges in the surrounding districts.

On the 23 July 1896 the Consecration Ceremony and Installation of Mr Charles Rhodes as first Master was held in the Criterion Theatre. One of the earliest considerations of the Lodge was the erection of a building of their own. A building in Normanby Road was erected and on 18 May 1897 the new Lodge room was Dedicated. The two storey building consisted of the Lodge room, supper and anteroom upstairs and two shops below.

Lodge proceedings continued to be held in these rooms until 1918 when the building was destroyed by fire. The fire had started about 3.30am on 3 August in a bootmakers shop next door to the Lodge building. The shop was separated by a right of way from the Lodge but when the fire brigade arrived the shop was entirely consumed and the Masonic building a mass of flames making it impossible to enter the building. The building and its contents were a total loss including all the old records.

A meeting was called for the 28 August, to be held in the Criterion Theatre but this was burnt down on the 22 August. For sometime meetings were held in the Church of England Parish Hall until the present building in Arney Street was completed in 1919.