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Brookfield Freemason chapter celebrates centennial

June 18, 2014

Following a century of service, Brookfield's local chapter of the oldest fraternity in the world, Freemasonry, is inviting the community to celebrate its centennial.

McKinley Lodge #307 is made up of around 100 members, most of whom reside in the greater Milwaukee area. The public is invited to join those members, Sen. Leah Vukmir, and officials from the city of Brookfield in the festivities.

"Our mission is to take good men and make them great. We've been doing it for 100 years now and we want people to be able to come and enjoy the celebration with us and maybe learn about us," McKinley Lodge #307 Worshipful Master Ryan Mayrand said. "Our particular lodge was chartered in June of 1914, so we're having this celebration to commemorate that."

The celebration will begin Saturday at 1 p.m. at the McKinley Lodge, 4550 N. Pilgrim Road. The lodge being open to the public with a number of artifacts on display. Many of these artifacts will be in connection to President William McKinley, for whom the lodge is named.

At 2 p.m., festivities will continue with an awards ceremony including a scholarship to be awarded to Brookfield East High School student Thomas Putnam. Putnam was selected for his strong commitment to scholastic excellence and for demonstrating a high degree of moral character. A number of membership awards also will be presented to 50- and 60-year members of the lodge.

The scholarship for Putnam was a special gift to commemorate the lodge's 100th year. McKinley also gives two scholarships every year to one student at each Elmbrook high school. This year's winners were Nathan Stack of Brookfield East and Tyler Gray-Hoehn of Brookfield Central. Those scholarships were presented by Mayrand at the schools' respective award nights.

Mayrand expects Saturday's awards to last until approximately 3 p.m., at which point a reception will held in the banquet hall of the lodge complete with hors d'oeuvres and a champagne toast. Mayrand hopes that the event will serve as a proper celebration of the lodge's 100-year tenure while also helping to raise awareness for the organization.

"We do everything from college scholarships to highway cleanups. We have many sub-groups that are a part of us that have various philanthropic causes, such as the Children's Dyslexia Center in Milwaukee," Mayrand said.

Mayrand notes that the lodge is experiencing slow but steady growth of late; however, it is not nearly as large as it has been in the past.

"Shortly after 1914 when our lodge was started, within the first couple years, they'd already initiated hundreds of members," Mayrand said. "Now, we generally lose maybe two to four members a year, but we've been adding around five to six."

Those interested in joining McKinley Lodge #307 should approach a member and inquire about the initiation process. Mayrand notes that a member will never approach someone and suggest that they join.

"That has thrown some people for a loop. We'll never ask you to join. We require that you ask a Mason in order to join because we really want it to be your decision and be something that you're serious about," Mayrand said.

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