One of the oldest buildings in Pioche, the Masonic Saint John Lodge, No. 18, established in the 1870s has seen its fair share of dilapidation and decay. After being built and established during the mining boom in the late 1800s, the chapter relocated the lodge and chapter to Delamar, where there was more excitement. However it died quickly, and when the chapter returned to the Pioche building, they found that most of it was already in decay. “Scavengers” had taken most of the roof and floor timbers, windows and doors.
It was after the lodge had officially moved back to Pioche that a younger group of sworn in Masons were able to rebuild the establishment. Years later, the building is in need of repairs again. Not because of scavengers or thieves this time, but because of Mother Nature.
The lodge contains 50 to 60 members, according to John Linerode, present member of the fraternal society. He said, “We are not a secret society, we are a society with secrets.”
Over the last two years, the building has seen damage and deterioration due to the mountain behind it, as it continues to push against the building’s rock and mortar from the nineteenth century.
A broken water line that leaked in around 250,000 gallons of water has dropped a corner of the building and caused the lines to be rerouted. It took 10 months for the building to dry out.
In the midst of removing flooring and walls, the crew discovered eight inches of sand under the false floor, without real knowledge of why it was there. It was speculated that it was used in older times for possible insulation. More than three tons of sand were removed from the flooding and floors.
Members Larry Gearheart and Bobby Orr have been donating a lot of time to the renovation of the historic lodge. A concrete footer was poured, as the foundation was all dirt. The walls were drilled and rebarred as they went through, and bigger 2×12 beams were added to the frame of the structure, and extended the roof away from the wall to help with future flooding. Better insulation is also planned for installation.
While repairing the floor from the first flood, another leak happened. Gearheart said they will add a tankless hot water heater.
Orr said, “it only uses power when you need it, makes it more green.”
A handicap access is planned, as well as a remodeled bathroom and kitchen. Stained glass windows for upstairs will be installed. Assistance has come from Dave and Eric Waugh of Las Vegas, a father and son team dedicated to helping renovate the building.
Cabinets were donated from Ed Bernstein’s Law Office in Las Vegas. The men also said that the Building Department and County have been helping.
The Order of the Eastern Star, the wives, sisters or mothers of the Masons, have also been instrumental, not only in the assistance they offer to the Masonic Lodge, but with the renovations and preparations for the Masons’ ceremonies and meetings.
The building still presents original decorative panels from the original furnishings, with hand-painted gold-leaf tapestries. And among some of the other long-standing traditions, the members continue to donate to the community by helping children receive Kindles and Leap Frogs. They host the Masonic Lodge Breakfast every year for Labor Day. They donate to the Shriners Hospital, and also present Santa to the Pioche Elementary students every year.
The Lodge is getting ready to host its annual Installation of Officers, where a new Worshipful Master will be nominated. This is the only event the Lodge opens up to the public. All are welcome to attend the Installation of Officers Saturday, Dec. 13, at 12:30 p.m.