Temple Topples - Hampton, NE

Hamilton County NEGenWeb Project



January 13, 1999
Courtesy of the Aurora News-Register

Trumpets most likely announced the opening of the Houghton Memorial Masonic Temple on May 9, 1928, at 2:00 p.m. on the Main Street in Hampton.

Nearly 71 years later, another group, much smaller, gathered around the building just a little later in the afternoon to watch its destruction.

The Hampton Band under the direction of Chris Rasmussen provided the music during the 1928 ceremony, but it's easy to imagine the grandness of the two-story brick building built on four lots would have provided.

In the cold of January, its destruction was precluded by the sounds of heavy construction equipment grumbling to a start. News of the cornerstone laying ceremony flashed all the way to Lincoln in 1928. At least it warranted a small article in the March 27 Lincoln Star Journal.

News articles also appeared in the Hamilton County Register, The Bradshaw Monitor, The Aurora Sun, and The Aurora Republican in the weeks leading up to the event. Only two newspapers recorded the destruction.

Copies of the 1928 news items were carefully preserved, welded shut in a copper box in the cornerstone with other pictures, books and pamphlets that told the Masons' story.

In Hampton, the story began on July 12, 1899, with a dispensation granted to 14 men who gathered to form Hampton Lodge No. 245 A.F. & A.M., jurisdiction of Nebraska. On June 7, l900, the Grand Lodge gave the fledgling lodge it's charter.

Brothers Richard L. Ahara, James H. Anderson, Charles W. Buckley, Eugene Carr, George F. Champe, Clinton B. Condon, James M. Cox, Joshua Cox, Edwin H. Cramer, John Doran, Edgar D. Foster, Marin Hansen, Issaih W. Haughy, Samuel Hogg, Alfred B. Houghton, John F. Houseman, James W. Munnel, Josiah E. Hutsell, Edson L. Ingalls, James M. Johnson, Riley E. Mason, George A Morrison, Harry M. Richmond, George B. Steadman, Robert H. Wagner, William J. Williamson and James A. Wilson, were members.

On July 13, 1900, the first full set of officers were installed by the Most Worshipful Grand Master, Albert W. Crites. The chapter continued until 1907 when no meetings were held. The group started up again in 1908.

Stephen C. Houghton who served as the Lodge Master in 1905, set aside a trust to build the chapter a lodge after his death, June 7, 1927 Houghton had been born in Altona, Knox County, Illinois, on December 19, 1877. Houghton left his Lodge brothers a total of $12,500, directing that 75 percent be used for construction and 25 percent for equipment. Members were directed to wait until the Masonic Building Fund reached $21,500 before a building committee of three was created to proceed with construction.

Alfred B. Houghton requested that a committee of five be elected insted of three. J.M. Cox, Edwin H. Cramer, Fred C. Schall, Andrew N. Christiansen and G.E. Plotts were elected.

The gray marble cornerstone was then placed in the two-story brick structure a little over a month after the groundbreaking on March 26.

Members of the Lodge volunteered to dig the basement and haul in all materials, a task they accomplished in two days.

The Most Worshipful Grand Master Albert R. Davis was in charge of the cornerstone laying event, May 9, 1928.

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