By Carol McCracken (Post # 779)
About 200 Masons who converged on downtown Portland today for an annual meeting were prevented from entering their Masonic Temple at 415 Congress Street while the Portland Fire Department cleared the building of poisoinous gas that was leaking from the furnace in the old building.
The call came in from a man calling himself “Fuzzie” about 9:30 am this morning said Deputy Chief David Pendleton. Fuzzie opened the doors of the Masons state headquarters in order to prepare the interior for a luncheon and ceremony that was to take place at noon time today. Instead, he was greeted by an alarm that measures gasses and that indicated the building furnace was malfunctioning.
Several Portland ladder companies were on the scene early trying to lower the level of carbon monoxide in the many story building so the event could begin. The Fire Department opened as many windows as possible, although some were painted shut and otherwise impossible to open. Ventiliation from other sources was being used to get rid of the toxicity and return the building to safety. At noon time, it was anticipated that this would take several more hours and presumably did although MHN.com did not hang around!
Tom Emery, one of the leaders of the Maine Masons said that the purpose of the Masons is to teach men to be better men – better family men and better employees and better members of the communities in which they live. Emery said there are about 20,000 Masons in Maine and about 8,000 of them have become Scottish Rite Masons – a segment from all over the State who were attending today’s annual event.
One of those waiting outside the building that dates back to 1910 was Frank Mollins, a Master Mason. He was waiting for the ceremony to take place that would make him a 32nd Shriner of which he was proud. “I’ll have to do something REALLY good to reach the 33rd level, but I don’t think I will,” he said smiling at the challenge before him.
The Masonic Temple was built in 1910 and in the 70’s the front half of the building was sold. It’s now office space with the Maine Red Claws office on the first floor.