Masonic Fish Fry serves up fundraising for historic structure
This Thursday and Friday, June 5-6, the Masonic Temple at 118 E. Washington St. in Greencastle will hold its annual fish fry as its main fundraising event of the year.
The building was dedicated and the cornerstone laid in 1924, making it probably one of the longest surviving original historic downtown buildings that is still performing for its designed and intended purpose.
It is home for two Masonic Lodges, Temple Lodge 47, Morton Lodge 469, the York Rite, the Eastern Star and the Putnam County Shrine Club.
In speaking with some of the longtime members Linda Allee remembers the fish fry dating back to the early '50s but is certain it goes back further. Mike Murphy recalled the ice cream socials in the 1960s that were also used as fundraisers by mostly hand-cranked good, old-fashioned ice cream.
"The kind that you wanted to eat so fast you would get a brain freeze," Murphy said.
He also noted when the Job's Daughters and DeMolay chapters were active in his youth and that both organizations received numerous awards. Some of the members made it a career, such as Jeffrey Saunders who is now executive director of the Scottish Rite of Indianapolis Cathedral, one of Indy's architectural treasures.
The Greencastle building at Washington and Vine streets has changed little over the years aside from removal of the old boiler replaced with updated heating and the addition of air conditioning which would have been welcome back in 1924 if that technology had existed. Much of the original tile work and architectural design remains as it was on the interior.
Many well-known leaders and business people in the community have been members of these Masonic bodies over the years that were considered movers and shakers in their day. Membership was looked upon to be very favorable among Greencastle residents long before conspiracy theories about the Masons and movies like "National Treasure" with Nicholas Cage. Surprisingly movies like that have created somewhat of an interest to new and younger members today.
This year's event will be more important to the membership as it looks to help offset the cost of repairs to the facade and columns over the front entrance which has cracked and spalled from freeze and thaw over the years.
Greencastle has been lucky, Murphy said, to have one of the nicer Masonic Temples still surviving and that has not been sold and turned into a bait shop or a private residence as the communities of Morton and Brazil have seen come to pass.
"The great thing," Murphy said, "is that unlike everything else where quality has been side lined to cut costs the fish is still the high quality, tasty cod that is hand breaded on site and deep fried to a golden brown the same way they've been doing it since the 1924?
"Who really knows but one thing is for certain. The secret of longevity to any organization is its membership and spirit so on June 5 and 6 the Temple Association hopes that its efforts will be rewarded with lots of hungry fish lovers and people in Greencastle who still like seeing a bit of the good ole days still at work and a continuing a long time tradition."
Hours of operation for the fish fry are from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday. Carryout is available. Persons can call ahead to order at 653-4915.