So many of us pass the building at 40 Forest Ave. in Riverside and don’t know much about it other than it is the Riverside Masonic Lodge. 

But it was interesting to learn what happens there other than the annual steak dinner and the Vidalia onion sale. The lodge has a history in Riverside that dates back more than 100 years and has survived and thrived during that time.

In the early days, the lodge met in the township hall, but through the benevolence of Riverside real estate broker Henry Miller owned property on Forest Avenue and sold it to the organization for a very low price. 

The ground breaking ceremony took place on July 30, 1960, and on May 25, 1961, the first meeting was held at the new temple. Over the years improvements have been made and additional land was purchased for more parking.

Over the years the Riverside Lodge has become visible in its support of numerous community projects and programs. This year the Masonic Lodge held its first Community Award Night to showcase many of the efforts of the group. Beginning the evening with a dinner cooked by one of the members, guests viewed a video presentation on Freemasonry. 

Recognition was given to members for years of service, the Coins for Children program, scholarships, and academic bowl participants. The Community Builder Award was given to Joseph Moore of Jan Electric, who donated the use of company trucks to make deliveries of items to the people in Washington, Illinois, whose town had been devastated by a tornado.

A booklet I received that evening, published in 2002, for the Riverside Lodge’s anniversary contained the names past and present Riverside Masons, including John L. Clarke, the founder of Clarke Mosquito Control and first president of the Riverside Swim Club; George Glaser, who owned a funeral home in the village for many years; and Ashley Guthrie, after whom Guthrie Park in downtown Riverside was named. The list goes on to include many men who served on the village board or with the police and fire Departments.

Among notable outside of Riverside have been 14 U.S. presidents, astronauts and many more — all striving to implement the beliefs of Freemasonry by being dedicated to morality and the betterment of mankind. 

Those interested in learning more about the Masons and the Riverside Lodge #862 may contact Henrik Schrader or Ray Babinsky at 708-447-9628.

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