KINGSPORT — If you’ve ever wondered what Freemasonry is all about, this could be your chance to get some answers.
This year marks the 200th Anniversary of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Tennessee. Special Masonic celebrations honoring some famous Tennessee Masons — all three U.S. presidents who hailed from the state: Andrew Jackson, James K. Polk, and Andrew Johnson; were Masons — occurred or are scheduled throughout the year.
One event this weekend opens the doors of individual Lodges statewide, including Kingsport Masonic Lodge #688 at 2317 Fort Henry Dr.
Members of the Lodge and the various appendant bodies, such as the York rite, Scottish rite, and Shriners, will welcome the public to tour the facility and share refreshments from noon until 3 p.m. Saturday.
The Grand Lodge of Tennessee was granted its own jurisdiction on St. John’s Day, December 27, 1813, from the Grand Lodge of North Carolina, according to the organization’s bicentennial celebration website, www.celebrate2013.org.
The Lodges descended from the medieval stone masons guilds.
“The Kingsport Lodge was chartered in 1917, by the Grand Lodge of Tennessee, which was chartered by the Grand Lodge of North Carolina, which was chartered by the United Grand Lodge of England,” Worshipful Master Darrel Hunt told the Times-News. “There was another lodge which operated in the area, in the Lovedale area (near Jackson Elementary School) prior to this, but it only operated for around 10 years and folded. Only one member of that lodge became a founding member of Kingsport Lodge.”
And several of the Model City’s founding fathers were Freemasons — including the Taylors of Dobyns-Taylor Hardware, James Dobson of Hamlett-Dobson Funeral Home, John B. Dennis, J. Fred Johnson, and others, Hunt said.
"Either term is correct, although we usually say Freemason to distinguish us from brick or block or stone masons. We say Operative or Speculative masons. Operative masons are the ones who actually work with stone, bricks, or blocks. Speculative masons are Freemasons."
Other upcoming events in the region include a round of activities in Greeneville Sept. 27-28 honoring President Andrew Johnson, who was initiated an Entered Apprentice on May 5, 1851, in the Greenville Lodge No. 119 F&AM, according to the bicentennial celebration website.
The year’s festivities will be cap-stoned by The Tennessee Grand Lodge Bicentennial Celebration, commemorating the granting of the Great Charter from the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of North Carolina to the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Tennessee to be held at the Scottish Rite Temple in Knoxville, Tennessee, on Saturday, December 28.