City may get boost from Masonic HQ
Masons moving state-level operations to Millbrook
By Hamilton Richardson
Progress staff writer
The business community in Millbrook, although having suffered from some recent store closures, took a welcome step forward when, on Monday morning, ground was broken on the new state headquarters of the Free and Accepted Masons of Alabama.
The new headquarters will be located directly behind MAX Federal Credit Union in Millbrook.
"We thank you for having faith in us as a city," Millbrook Mayor Al Kelley said during the groundbreaking ceremony, attended by included two city councilmen and several Masons including Grand Master Teddy Grogan. "We will bend over backwards to support you and we want you to be proud to say you're from Millbrook."
According to Stuart Peters of Landmark Construction, the new state headquarters building will be built on a nearly-one-acre site and will be part of the Magnolia Ridge commercial subdivision. Eight office-use rooms as well as a museum area and library are planned for the facilities.
"There will be significant landscaping as part of the project as well," Peters said.
Paul Pemberton is the general contractor for the 7,200-square foot project and Montgomery-based architectural firm, Parsons, Wible, Brummal, and Alkire Architects, will be handling the plans.
The Grand Secretary of the F&AM of Alabama, Jerry Underwood, said of the state headquarters, "There are over 300 member lodges over the state of Alabama and they all report to this lodge."
Underwood, who was Grand Master of the state in 1998 and 1999, also holds the role of executive director of the Grand Lodge.
According to Underwood, there are about 30,000 Masons in Alabama and the organization itself is almost 190 years old. Underwood also said that, although the Grand Lodge has been located in the Sterling Bank in Prattville for the past five years, officials were looking for a more rural setting.
"We decided Millbrook was the place to be," Underwood said. "Millbrook had a calling for us. We'll be in Millbrook for a while."
The Grand Lodge, as well as bringing the state headquarters to Millbrook, will also bring the same charitable pursuits with which other lodges have been involved.
"Each lodge has some sort of charity that they support. We budget $150,000 a year to charities across the state," Underwood said. "Across the country, there's $3 million a day in charitable functions."
Freemasonry is considered to be the world's oldest and largest fraternity, and the Grand Lodge's ongoing mission will be to provide strong leadership to the Masons of Alabama and to develop and implement programs to assist the lodges in becoming more visible and active in their communities.
The project is scheduled for completion some time in late 2009.
Masonic fellowship in action first-hand.