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Masons seek ‘lost symbol’

Just call the old dedication marker the “Lost Symbol.”

At least that’s what members of Andalusia’s Masonic Lodge #434 call the stone that proclaims the dedication of Andalusia’s first Masonic lodge, and they are hoping someone has information that will lead them to its location.

Renovations are ongoing at the Lodge, which sits adjacent to the Covington County Courthouse. Thanks to a recent grant from the city’s Downtown Tourism and Redevelopment Board, the building is undergoing a “facelift.”

For the fraternal organization who dedicates its studies on history, the chance to renovate the building was one they didn’t want to let slip by.

Mason Randy Reese said members wanted to do something to not only enhance the building but also downtown. They plan to re-brick the face, install five new windows and possibly have the missing dedication marker set at the end of the renovations.

“In Freemasonry, everything means something,” said Steve McGowin, the Lodge’s worshipful master. “There’s always a story behind a story. So when I was told the story about the marker laying underneath the Camilla bushes at the USAble Life building on East Three Notch, I had to go in search of it.”

McGowin learned some 20 years ago that renovations were made on the property and the marker disappeared.

“Now, we call it our ‘Lost Symbol,’ and we hope someone out there can help us find it,” said McGowin, speaking in reference to the new Dan Brown novel, The Lost Symbol, which gives readers a peek into Freemasonry and its teachings.

Both McGowin and Reese said they hope the book “puts a spotlight on Masons.”

“I hope it generates a bit of curiosity about what Masons are and what we’re about,” Reese said. “Freemasonry is not a religion. It’s the way we live our life. Our motto is, ‘It makes a good man better.’

“It’s not a secret society,” he said. “It’s a fraternity like you would find on a college campus,” he said.

Currently, there are 120 members in the Andalusia Lodge. Other lodges include Gantt, Red Level, North Creek, Florala, Opp and Pleasant Home’s Stokes’ Lodge.

Membership has dwindled as older members pass away, and both McGowin and Reese hope Brown’s new book will lead to an increase in membership.

“Anyone can come and see what we’re about,” Reese said. “We welcome questions and visitors.”

Meetings are held at 7:30 p.m. on the first and third Tuesday. Information can be obtained from the Lodge’s Web site at andalusialodge434.org or by calling 334-222-8543.

As for the cornerstone, Reese said, “If someone can lead us to it, we’ll give them a copy of The Lost Symbol. After all, they helped us find ours. It’s the least we can do.”