Annual Report of the Dwight L. Smith Lodge of Research U.D. 2020

To the Grand Lodge: 

In 2019-20, the Dwight L. Smith Lodge of Research strengthened its mission to actively work in tandem with the Masonic Library & Museum of Indiana and the Historical Commission as a functioning research arm of those two intertwined committees. In this way, our combined strengths and abilities complement each other to create a functioning, useful set of educational and historical resources for Indiana Freemasonry.

To that end, our nearly 100 members have been actively involved in organizing significant historical projects in the state during the last year:

• Brethren in the northwest part of the state worked actively in partnership with private owners to establish the Adams Mill historical 1865 period lodge room in Cutler, Indiana, dedicated by GM Kenneth Roy, Jr. for the use of the fraternity in June 2019.

• JW Barry White and Masons in and around Columbus have established the Bartholomew County Masonic History Museum at St. John’s Lodge. Nearly $25,000 has been raised so far for construction of that facility.

• Our members, led by PGM Michael Brumback, removed all of the large photographs of Indiana’s Past Grand Masters from the walls of the neglected Indianapolis Temple’s Freemasons Hall auditorium in anticipation of a major renovation of that space by local theater group Claude Macneil Productions. Our members and the Library Museum will make these photos and the individual biographies of each of these Most Worshipful brethren as an online resource for future research and reference.

• We have provided ongoing educational and informational posts on the DLS LOR and MLMI Facebook and web pages throughout the year. In April 2020 when the COVID-19 quarantine stay-home orders were issued in Indiana, we recorded the first of what will be several video presentations of previous Power Point programs from the lodge, and are making them available on those websites and pages. The first program was Indiana’s Masonic Service Centers of World War II by WM Christopher Hodapp, telling the little-known story of the USO-like Masonic centers in Evansville’s and Indianapolis’ downtown Temples. Additional video presentations will be an ongoing project.

• We had hoped to host several major events this spring and early summer; an organized trip in and around the Masonic sites at Lafayette and the Tippecanoe Battlefield, including Brother Ken Moder’s J. M. Rathbone Museum of fraternal organizations, and a group visit to the new Bartholomew County Masonic History Museum under construction. The COVID-19 pandemic forced the postponement of these events, along with our May 2020 stated meeting, which was to follow the annual communication.

• In April 2020 we anticipated taking part in the unveiling and dedication of the first new historical marker erected by the Grand Lodge since the late 1970s –  appropriately in honor of our namesake, Past Grand Master and Past Grand Secretary Dwight Louis Smith, on the grounds of Salem Lodge. This, too, was postponed by the pandemic shutdown.

• We have stressed at our meetings and in our online materials the ongoing importance of Indiana’s Masons acting as proper custodians of their own lodges’ history, records, relics and stories. No Grand Lodge committee or organization can do justice to discovering and preserving the past of the nearly 800 individual lodges charted in Indiana over the last two centuries and longer. As a lodge of research, we stand in partnership with the Library & Museum to provide practical advice and guidance to Masons throughout the state in properly caring for their own lodge’s treasures and archives, as well as keeping an accurate and up to date chronicle of their own past.

All Indiana Masons with an interest in the rich history and heritage of our fraternity in Indiana are welcomed and encouraged to attend our meetings, contribute to our growing number of written and audio/visual presentations, and join us as members. In addition to our own Grand Lodge, our bylaws also permit any regular, recognized Freemasons from jurisdictions in amity with the Grand Lodge F&AM of Indiana to affiliate with us as full members or non-voting associate members. 

Our two fixed stated meetings are normally held after the annual communication each May, and following the close of Founders Day activities each January. Those meetings are held on the 5th floor of the Indianapolis Masonic Temple adjacent to the Library & Museum. At least two additional meetings are expected to be held during the year in other parts of the state.

We continue to serve at the will and pleasure of the Grand Master, and the Grand Lodge, for the benefit of the Craft in general. 

Fraternally submitted this April 15th, 2020,

CHRISTOPHER LEE HODAPP, Worshipful Master 2019-20

Christopher Gamblin, Senior Warden

Barry White, Junior Warden

John Bridegroom, Secretary