NORTH ANSON — All that’s left from a fire that destroyed Northern Star Masonic Lodge 28 in downtown North Anson in 2009 is a wooden box with the lodge’s original 1818 charter inside.

But the charter is not just an old piece of paper; it was signed by none other than Paul Revere when Maine was still a part of Massachusetts.

On Saturday, the lodge’s 60 members, family and friends will gather for a big party at the new lodge on North Main Street, across from Carrabec High School, to mark its 200th year.

Vendors can start showing up at 8 a.m. Saturday for a full day of sales. Table space costs $20.

There will be free live music by classic rockers Amber Jack from 1:30 to 5:30 p.m. and a chicken barbecue from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. for $8 a plate. Maine comedian Bob Marley will perform on site at 7 p.m. Tickets for that show cost $27.50.

Daniel Crowley, the worshipful master at the Northern Star Lodge, said the 2009 fire that swept through the downtown block, taking businesses and an artist’s gallery with it, was the lodge’s second fire.

But they have survived, he said, displaying the 1818 lodge charter, penned two years before Maine became a state in 1820.

“This is our original charter, chartered in 1818 by the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts,” he said. “It’s been through two fires and it survived, and it’s one of our prize possessions. There’s only a few lodges left in the state of Maine that were chartered by the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts. We were 18 months before the Grand Lodge of Maine was incorporated.

“It was signed by Paul Revere and a John May, but I can’t read it because it’s all faded out from the years of being around and surviving two fires.”

The charter is dated Dec. 15, 1818, and is kept in a small chest made by Malcolm MacLeod, of the Euclid Lodge of Madison.

The new lodge was built in 2010, a year after the fire.

“We lost pretty much everything in the fire,” Crowley said. “This is one of the few things that survived. Our safe was upstairs and it ended up in the basement and that was in it.”

Crowley said the Masons, or Freemasons, is the oldest male fraternity in the world.

Founded in London, England, in 1717, its current worldwide membership totals 3.6 million, 1.6 million of whom are in North America.

There are affiliated organizations for women at other lodges, such as Eastern Star and Rainbow Girls, but not at the North Anson location.

He said the organization in North America, with various subsects, donates more than $3 million every day to charities.

They do bikes for books, civics programs and local scholarships.

“We do a lot of charities for people. All they have to do is ask, and we’ll put in their applications with the Grand Lodge,” he said.

Crowley said the Masons do not recruit actively, and the best way to become a Mason is to ask a Mason. He said the altar that the lodge uses is a mystery in that someone simply left it, anonymously, for them after their fire.

Crowley said the Masons is not a religious organization, but one that welcomes all faiths. They recognize use of the Bible, the Torah and the Quran.

“We all believe in the supreme architecture of the universe, a supreme being,” he said. “You have to profess your belief in God, otherwise none of our obligations would be binding. We don’t promote religion. We don’t talk about religion in here. We don’t talk about politics. All are welcome.”

As for the reputation of being a secretive organization, Crowley said they have their own handshakes and passwords, but that’s about it.

“We’re really not a secret society,” he said. “We have handshakes and different secret words that we can tell if somebody is a Mason. But the big secret is no big secret, other than we do a lot of good things for people in the world.”

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter:@Doug_Harlow

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