An organization that traces its roots back centuries is celebrating its 100th anniversary in the borough in a fitting way.
The Free Mason Bronx Masonic District celebrated its centennial with a street co-naming adjacent to the City Island Masonic Temple at Schofield Street and City Island Avenue on Saturday, December 8.
The corner where the long-established temple is located was co-named ‘Free Mason Way’ and a temporary sign was unveiled honoring the four active lodges of Free and Accepted Masons in the borough: Wyoming #342, Guiding Star Angle #565, Pelham #712 and Hebron #813.
The sign co-naming bill was introduced by Councilman Mark Gjonaj, said Louis Juers, one of the Masonic elders in the borough and a Pelham Lodge member.
A permanent NYC Department of Transportation sign will be placed at the location sometime in the future, said the councilman, who explained he wanted the ceremony as close as possible to the centennial of the founding of the Bronx Masonic District.
The Freemasons, who have actually been in the borough longer – at least 140 years on City Island alone – also celebrated their anniversary Bronx Masonic District Charity Ball at Marina del Rey where Juers was honored with a lifetime achievement award. The ball took place on Sunday, November 25.
Gjonaj said that the steet co-naming honors a century of work that helps those in most in need, calling the Masons “a remarkable group” whose work is often not heralded because they rarely publicize it.
“The Masons have been doing incredible work for 100 years providing those most in need and always without attention,” said Gjonaj. “This was a way of recognizing their good work that is often goes unrecognized because they don’t publicize it.”
The councilman said that the Masons in the borough sponsor toy drives, serve food to the needy on Thanksgiving, hold clothing drives and perform charitable works at Calvary Hospital.
Juers said that Masons are very supportive of veterans organizations, and have hospitals for children and homes for elders in various locations.
“It is a fellowship,” said Juers. “Our motto is to take a good man and make him a better man.”
Juers, a City Islander, has been a Mason for 59 years, adding that the fraternity members in the borough were pleased that the councilman was so helpful.
The Masons, he said, are responsible for the signs around local schools that read ‘Drug Free School Zone’ and that they are supporters of the Boy and Girl scouts.
The organization welcomes new members, but doesn’t solicit, he said.
The Masons prefer instead that those who are interested in better perfecting themselves and their mortality through ritual, allegory and symbolism find their own way to the group, according to sources.
The Masons charitable works dates back centuries, and in the United States, it goes all the way back to the founding of the country, said Juers.
The Masons were instrumental in the U.S. Revolutionary War and the Boston Tea Party, and many of the ‘founding founders’ were part of the organization,” said Juers.