Blaze destroys Masonic Lodge's archives

Records and documents inside Delhi Masonic Lodge were destroyed in a fire Thursday

By Jessica Reynolds
The Daily Star

DELHI, N.Y. — Records and documents inside the Delhi Masonic Lodge's archival library were destroyed during Thursday's structure fire on Main Street, officials said.

The fire broke out at about 6:30 a.m. in the kitchen of The Village Pizzeria and Restaurant, located at 106 Main Street. The Delhi Masonic Lodge No. 439, housed on the second floor of that building, has extensive smoke and water damage, officials said, and the members of the Lodge will have to find a new place to meet, at least temporarily.

The Delhi Masonic Lodge was located on the second floor of a pizzeria that caught fire.
The Delhi Masonic Lodge was located on the second floor of a pizzeria that caught fire. (Photo/Google Maps)

Tom Little, Delhi's code enforcement officer and a trustee for the Lodge, said the Lodge's kitchen floor fell through. Its library was also hit hard, according to Bill Morley, secretary of the Delhi Masonic Lodge.

"There were records and notes dating back to the 1800s," Morley said Thursday. "There's no replacing that. But at least no one was hurt."

Morley said the organization meets twice a month but is off for the summer. It is scheduled to commence meetings in September.

"We've already had calls today from neighboring lodges offering to let us meet there," Morley said. "That's what Masons do."

Morley's father, Richard, is the Senior Grand Warden of the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons in the State of New York. He has been a member of the Delhi lodge for more than 20 years, he said.

"As Senior Grand Warden, I travel around the state quite a bit," Richard Morley said, "and Delhi's lodge is truly one-of-a-kind. There is a big chandelier in the main lodge room that's beautiful. Hopefully that's still intact.

Masonry is the world's first and largest fraternal organization, according to the Grand Lodge State of New York website. It is based on the belief that each man has a responsibility to help make the world a better place.

"Through our culture of philanthropy, we make a profound difference for our brothers, our families, our communities, and our future," the website reads. "The mission of the Masons, to foster personal growth and improve the lives of others, is carried out through Masonic principles and tradition."

Alex Whittaker, a newer Mason, looked on Thursday as firefighters watered down the buildings on Main Street. He said he feels lucky to have seen the inside of the Delhi Lodge before the fire.

"It's pretty cool in there, definitely historic-looking," Whittaker said. "I have a feeling it's going to be a rough few meetings once we start up again in September."

Downsville resident Rich Houck, who grew up in Delhi, said he was visiting family in the village when the fire alarm went off.

"As a boy, I used to deliver the newspaper, The Daily Star, on my bicycle to some of those buildings," Houck said. "The sad thing is that it takes tragedies like these to think about how much these old buildings mean to the community."

Area resident Cordy Rich, who was also watching the action on Main Street, said the fire "could have happened a long time ago" because the buildings on Main Street are "so close together."

"They're lucky they got it stopped before it spread even farther," Rich said, while watching fire crews spray down the roof of the antique store. "This is a big loss. There was a lot of history up there."

Copyright 2016 The Daily Star

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