FEDERALSBURG — Exactly 100 years after the cornerstone was laid on the Masonic Temple Building on Federalsburg’s North Main Street, it was removed Tuesday, Oct. 29, and inspected for artifacts sealed inside it for the last century.
After the stone, laid Oct. 29, 1919, was pulled out, found inside were three 1919 coins, including a Standing Liberty quarter, Buffalo nickel and penny, and scraps of a Federalsburg newspaper from the time.
All had been damaged at some point, likely by flood waters — a brick on a corner of the nearby town hall building, higher than the cornerstone on the Masonic building, marks the level reached by a 1935 flood.
The 1919 coins and newspaper will be returned to the cornerstone, along with modern artifacts, including a 2019 quarter, nickel and penny, current Mason coins and a group picture of the Nanticoke Masonic Lodge 172 members — but sealed in plastic.
“We will learn from their mistake,” said Nanticoke Lodge Worshipful Master Michael Holcomb.
The hope is the cornerstone will be pulled out again in the future, perhaps on its 200th anniversary in 2119.
“All of the Freemasons are big on history,” Holcomb said, “We look for history.”
Among those who gathered Tuesday to see the cornerstone’s contents were members of the Nanticoke Lodge, which commissioned the building and held meetings there for decades; the building’s current owners; and members of the Federalsburg Historical Society.
The Nanticoke Lodge, established in 1875, met in various buildings on Federalsburg’s Main Street until it dedicated its newly constructed temple building in 1920. It had cost $35,000 to build.
Lodge meetings were held on the second floor, which also at one time held a public hall that offered dances, movies, minstrel shows and other entertainment.
The ground floor has been home to several businesses over the years, including a Ford dealership, hardware store, florist and antique store. Currently, Meredith’s TV & Appliances and Ebenezer, a thrift store, occupy the building’s retail spaces.
John Phillips said he and the building’s co-owner bought it in 2013 at a public auction.
He had not gone to the auction with the intention of buying the then-95-year-old building, he said, but it had surprisingly good bones.
After buying it, the new owners completed extensive research on the building’s past, to apply for its registry on the U.S. Department of the Interior’s National Register of Historic Places.
That honor was granted June 2, 2014, and a plaque was mounted on the restored building’s front facade.
“Today, we celebrate the Masons, and this wonderful old building on Main Street in Federalsburg,” Phillips said.