Masonic Library/Museum Foundation of Louisiana, Inc.
The Grand Lodge of the State of Louisiana, F&AM, was established in 1812. But, the rich history of Freemasonry, in the State of Louisiana, can be traced back to the late 1700’s. Since the formation of the Grand Lodge of Louisiana, various attempts have
been made to collect and preserve our historical documents and artifacts relating to Louisiana Masonic history. At one time the Grand Lodge, while located in New Orleans, had a decent Library and collection of artifacts. In the latter years of being housed at this location, the Library fell into disrepair, with documents and artifacts being stored in the damp basement, and many items being stored in an empty swimming pool. When the Grand Lodge relocated to Alexandria, La., in the mid-1990’s, records and artifacts were hurriedly shipped to the old Masonic Children’s Home located there. In preparing for this move, many items were carelessly “thrown away or pilfered”. After the move to Alexandria, most of the items moved were left boxed and/or scattered about various buildings on the campus with little to no regard to their historic value, with no maintenance, and with no security. Many items were found to be damaged and full of mold and mildew.
With the building of the new Grand Lodge Office in Alexandria, in 2006, another move was necessitated. A Moving Committee was appointed and assigned the task of inventorying and assessing the condition of; our records, documents, and artifacts in preparation for the move. This was done with reports being made to the Grand Lodge Officers. After moving to our new location, several Library Committees were appointed to address the establishment and set-up of our new Library/Museum. However, almost all of the documents, books, artwork and artifacts stayed boxed-up and/or unattended to, and very little was accomplished.
In order to address the aforementioned problems, The Masonic Library/Museum Foundation of Louisiana, Inc. was first established, by edict, in 2009, and was formally adopted, according to Masonic Law, by Resolution #2010-10 (see Handbook of Masonic Law). The Masonic Library/Museum was established as a separate entity from The Grand Lodge of the State of Louisiana and is managed by an elected Board of Trustees, with the Trustees to serve five-year rotating terms (see #1 below). This fact gives long-term stability to the planning, organizing, and directing, of the Library/Museum.
The Masonic Library/Museum Foundation of Louisiana was incorporated, under the laws of the State of Louisiana, and was established as a 501 (c)(3) Tax Exempt Charity, under the codes and regulations of the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.
A synopsis of Resolution 2010-10, issued by the Committee on Masonic Law and Jurisprudence, states: “The purpose of the Masonic Library/Museum is to preserve, organize and expand the art, relics and library material owned by the Grand Lodge of the State of Louisiana”. Resolution #2010-10 states: “The said Board of Trustees shall have full and complete control of all books, documents, portraits, art, relics or other items of whatsoever nature or kind comprising the library and museum heretofore maintained by the Grand Lodge of Louisiana”.
The Masonic Library/Museum Board of Trustees quickly realized that outside assistance would be needed if this project were to progress and be successful. One of the first projects of the Masonic Library/Museum was the restoration of our artwork. A reputable art conservator was hired to recondition and preserve our valuable artwork. This project is now nearly complete. The Board also decided it would be necessary to hire a professional Librarian/Archivist to organize, preserve, inventory and catalog our historical records, documents, and artifacts. The Masonic Library/Museum is now in the process of having all our Past Grand Lodge Proceedings located and digitized for preservation and research purposes. These can be viewed at http://library.la-mason.com.
The Board of Trustees for the Masonic Library/Museum Foundation of Louisiana, Inc. is faced with many challenges. To keep this project moving forward, and to preserve the progress that has been made, the Board of Trustees realized that:
1) Professional assistance and guidance are mandatory.
2) We must provide funds to keep a qualified Librarian/Archivist employed.
3) We must also have funds to maintain, preserve, and expand our records, documents, books, artwork and artifacts for future generations.
4) We must use current technology to digitize our records and make them computer accessible for our membership.
These goals must be met if we are to become a premier Masonic Research facility with a pleasing display area for our art and artifacts.
The Masonic Library/Museum is open to the public; however, our main focus is to provide a facility for Louisiana Masons to research the history of Masonry, more particularly the history of Louisiana Masonry, and to view artwork and artifacts pertinent to our Louisiana Masonic heritage. Our intent is to provide the constituents of the Grand Lodge of the State of Louisiana, F&AM, a Library/Museum that they will be proud of, and, to preserve our history for future generations of Louisiana Freemasons.
As part of the “Fund Raising” for the Masonic Library/Museum, the Louisiana Masonic License Plate Program was instituted. Funds derived from this program are to be used for the operation and maintenance of the Library/Museum. Also, “The Masonic Library/Museum Society” was established to recognize donor contributions to this Masonic Charity. A Membership drive is currently being conducted (see “The Masonic Library/Museum Society page for info).
The task of preserving our Fraternal history and treasures falls on the shoulders of each of us. We are urging our members, and Lodges, to help support “our” Masonic Library/Museum with donations of Masonic Books, Documents, Artifacts, and funds.
The Board of Trustees
The Masonic Library/Museum Foundation of Louisiana, Inc.
Current Board of Trustees:
Wm. J. “Jim” Hill, III., P.M. – chairman; Mitchell A. Reynolds, P.M.; J. Quincy Gotte, P.M.; Dr. Michael A. Carpenter; Michael R. Poll, P.M.
R:W: Charles R. Smith, Grand Treasurer