By RAY QUIROGA
Port Isabel-South Padre PRESS
Point Isabel Masonic Lodge #33 Worshipful Master David Gower couldn’t contain his elation Friday afternoon as he addressed those in attendance to witness an age-old cornerstone ceremony dedicating Port Isabel’s long-awaited community and event center on the grounds of the museum complex and Railroad Park.
“This is a really big deal,” Gower said with a smile and his excitement was with cause as the local contingent of Masons was joined by some of the state’s most distinguished leaders including the state’s top Mason, Most Worshipful Grand Master Walter W. Rogers.
The cornerstone (or foundation stone) concept is derived from the first stone set in the construction of a masonry foundation, important since all other stones will be set in reference to this stone, thus determining the position of the entire structure.
Over time a cornerstone became a ceremonial masonry stone, or replica, set in a prominent location on the outside of a building, with an inscription on the stone indicating the construction dates of the building and the names of architect, builder and other significant individuals.
The ceremony included a time capsule containing items from those present at the ceremony. The capsule will be opened at the time of the building’s demolition, destruction or in 50 years.
Port Isabel has a unique Masonic history. According to its history, General Zachary Taylor brought a large force to defend the city when it was rumored that it was under siege. Officers and members of his command (many from the east coast where Masonry had flourished for 100 years) requested a charter in 1847 for Point Isabel No. 33 from the Grand Lodge of Texas. The charter was never issued and the reason is unknown. However, about the same time, Rio Grande Lodge No. 81 located at Brownsville, went under dispensation and received a charter in 1851. General Taylor’s forces were subsequently deployed to Fort Brown (Brownsville) and perhaps this is the reason that the charter was never issued to Point Isabel.
Many years later, in 2006, a group of Masons from various lodges began meeting for coffee and fellowship. The Laguna Madre area also has a large influx of Masons during the fall and winter months which added to the camaraderie of the group. Since there was no Masonic Lodge in Port Isabel or South Padre Island, this was a good way to get acquainted with fellow Masons. During these meetings, Masons and non-Masons alike were.
In December 2007 a charter was issued by the Grand Lodge of Texas entitling the lodge, as originally intended, Point Isabel No. 33. Today, it is an active lodge that contributes to a number of local charities and organizations. The members meet at 9 a.m. every Wednesday at the Lodge located at 409 South Shore Drive for fellowship and education. All Masons and non-Masons are invited to attend. On the fourth Thursday of each month, a stated meeting is held only for Masons. For more information on the Point Isabel Masonic Lodge No. 33, call (956) 525-0541.
Read this story in the Jan. 24 edition of the Port Isabel-South Padre Press, or subscribe to our E-Edition by clicking here.