The Galeton Masons have donated the building they called home for nearly 100 years to the borough.

“The building was costing us more than we were bringing in,” said Mike Mathis, acting lodge master. “It didn’t leave us very much to give back to the community, which is our purpose.”

Mathis said dwindling membership, deaths of active members and not being able to raise funds this year due to COVID-19 led to the decision to merge with the Ulysses Masons.

“It’ll work out better for both of us, so now we’ll have money to give to the youth in both towns,” he said.

According to Mathis, the Free and Accepted Masons Lodge #602 in Galeton was first inducted in 1894. The club met at members’ homes and local establishments before Dr. James Hurd donated his building on Main Street in 1921. Mathis said that building burnt down in 1977 but was rebuilt around 1985.

Since the group merged and no longer needed a meeting space in Galeton, they explored options for the building at 24 W. Main Street. Mathis said they were able to donate the building since it’s owned by the Acacia Club, a bookkeeping and real estate-holding organization for Masons lodges that aren’t owned by the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

“The Grand Lodge helped finance a lot of the early Mason lodges to get started, and you still see a lot of those old stone Masonic buildings around,” said Mathis. “Those are still owned by the Grand Lodge, and they would take the building back over if it’s no longer needed.”

Mathis said Ulysses’ chapter also has an Acacia Club, to which Masons pay “rent” to cover utilities and building expenses. Each member of the Masons is an automatic member of the associated Acacia Club.

Mathis said the donation of the building in Galeton will benefit both the borough and its residents, and that borough council has some ideas for it, but nothing is set in stone.

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