Welcome to the Internet Home of
Braden Lodge #168
Ancient Free & Accepted Masons of Minnesota
5149 Bloomington Ave S
Minneapolis MN 55417
On Dec 3rd, 2020, Braden Lodge #168 held its annual Election of Officers for 2021, meeting virtually via Zoom. Our Senior Warden, WB Erik Fairchild, was elected Worshipful Master for the coming year. WB Fairchild has been active in our Lodge Scholarship Program, Technology Team, Trustee, and as a Degree lecturer, and looks forward to bringing an emphasis on Lodge Education to his year in the East. He is employed by Jamf Software as a Scrum Master. The complete list of elected and appointed officers for 2021 follows:
Worshipful Master: WB Erik Fairchild
Senior Warden: WB David Potter
Junior Warden: Jay Koelsch
Secretary: WB Erick Crail
Treasurer: WB David Allison
Senior Deacon: Arik Oversmith
Junior Deacon: Michael Bearfoot
Senior Steward: Christopher Larson
Junior Steward: William Otto
Chaplain: WB Andy Harvego
LEO: WB John Stitely
Tyler: WB Steve St John
Trustees (3): WB Jesse Williams, WB Andy Harvego, WB Tim Grube
Funeral Coordinator: WB John Stitely
Historian: WB Tim Grube
Librarian: Charles Knutson
Food Svc Dir: WB David Potter
An Installation Ceremony was held via Zoom conference on Dec 10th, 2020, with WB Andy Harvego serving as the Installing Master, and WB Brian Silverain serving as the Installing Marshall.
On Sunday afternoon, March 22nd, 2020, a fire broke out in an apartment located above the El Taco Riendo Restaurant, located just four doors down the block from the Arcana Masonic Center in Northeast Minneapolis where Braden Lodge now meets. Winds were coming out of the South at the time — meaning the Lodge building, directly North of the fire along Central Ave, was located squarely in the path of the ap-proaching fire and smoke. The four-alarm fire caused severe damage to the restaurant and an adjacent business, Anelace Coffee, but both businesses were unoccupied, as they had been closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. All of the apartments on the second floor above the two businesses were totally destroyed, but the residents were safely evacuated by the Minneapolis Fire Dept, which did a remarkable job of knocking down the flames be-fore the fire could advance to neighboring buildings.
Brothers of Arcana and Braden Lodges were notified and given time to retrieve their charters and other irreplaceable records and relics for safe-keeping. While the fire did not reach the Lodge building, the ventilation system sucked in the smoke-laden air, causing smoke damage to the walls and Celotex ceiling panels of the Lodge room, Lounge, and Dining Hall. Arcana’s building insurance is currently completing repairs, including re-painting of walls and replacement of the ceiling tiles.
Those Brothers who answered the emergency call to help rescue items from the Braden archives, which included our minute books, aprons and jewels, and an heirloom carpet that figures prominently in the staircase lecture, were: Br Michael Bearfoot, WB Erick Crail, Br Jason Edwards, WB Tim Grube, Br Christopher Larson, WM David Potter, and Br Mark Steiger — and one “Friend of Braden”, Mr Dustin Korbel, who had petitioned to join Braden just before the pandemic shut down Lodge activities in March. [One of the first actions undertaken when Braden resumed Lodge meetings on July 16th was to vote to approve Mr Korbel’s petition for the degrees!]
Smoke billows from apartments above two Central Ave businesses, El Taco Riendo, a Mexican restaurant, and Anelace Coffee Shop, on Mar 22, 2020. The sandstone building behind the tree at the right is the Arcana Lodge Masonic Center, rental home of Braden Lodge since Jan 2015. - photo courtesy KSTP-TV
March of 2020 started as one would expect, with a regular Stated Communication on the first Thursday of the month on March 5th: minutes were approved, bills were paid, and our Lodge Education Officer, WB Jesse Williams, gave an interesting presentation, the second in a series of papers, on the topic of creating community. Just business as usual — but by the end of the month, nothing would be business as usual.
• Thursday, March 12th, was a Fellowship Night, and SW Erik Fairchild conducted a rehearsal of the First Degree in preparation for an Entered Apprentice Degree scheduled for March 19th.
• March 13th, MN Gov Tim Walz declared a state-wide peacetime emergency and issued Stay-At-Home orders to go into effect Mar 25th designed to slow the spread of COVID-19, giving Minnesota much-needed time to prepare hospital capacity, testing, and personal protective equipment for health care workers and first responders.
• On Sunday, March 15th, the Grand Master of Minnesota Masons, MWB Ethan Seaberg, issued the first of several Edicts regarding the coronavirus pandemic. Initially, we could go ahead with Lodge meetings, but had to maintain 6-ft social distancing, and degree rituals were forbidden for now — so we continued with plans for our next Stated Communication slated for Thurs March 19th (without the EA Degree.)
• The successful series of “Murder Mystery” fundraisers organized by Treasurer WB David Allison, was not immune from the virus: the Bakken Museum, where we had scheduled five performances starting April 25th, notified us March 17th they were closing during the pandemic and cancelled all events, returning our deposits.
• On March 18th, in response to the increasing severity of the pandemic in Minnesota and our nation, MWB Seaberg cancelled all Lodge activities throughout the state thru April 3rd. (Remember when we thought this would blow over in a couple of weeks?) Our March 19th meeting was cancelled — as was the Grand Lodge Annual Communication set for April 3rd & 4th.
• Then came the fire of March 22nd. (see separate article)
• Starting April 2nd, we have been meeting “virtually” for Fellowship — using video conferencing platforms like WebEx and Zoom — to stay connected as a Fraternity and support one another during these difficult times.
• The March 18th Edict from Grand Lodge authorized the five elected Lodge officers (Worshipful Master, Sr & Jr Warden, Treasurer, and Secretary) to conduct the business of the Lodge in the interim while in-person meetings were suspended. We have had a number of Officers’ Meetings to pay the bills, act on requests for Brotherly Relief, and plan for re-opening.
• An Edict issued May 20th laid out a safe path for “A Return to In-Person Masonry.” We have tried since then to meet in-person, following all prescribed safety protocols: social distancing, limited attendance, no food, and no personal contact (handshakes or whispering the pass.) But many Braden members have medical conditions that make them high-risk, or live in households where others are in high-contact occupations, such as nurses and teachers, so they are minimizing risk by staying home. Two meetings were unable to garner a quorum.
• Then came May 25th, and the tragic death of George Floyd while in police custody that triggered numerous protests, which in turn led some to loot, vandalize, and burn buildings across the Metro. The violence affected the first-floor tenants of the Lodge building with broken windows and looting. The glass doorway of the North entrance to the upper floors (2nd floor Lounge, Kitchen, and Dining Hall, and 3rd floor Lodge room) was boarded over for two weeks and escaped damage.
• Several Brothers of Braden assisted other Brothers who live close to the center of the protest activities to move to safer places during the unrest, while others volunteered at emergency triage units at area churches, providing meals, water, and medical care to anyone injured during the protests.
• As the “second wave” of Covid-19 infections struck Minnesota this fall, we have returned to Zoom for Lodge activities, working with Grand Lodge to develop safe and secure procedures for voting and installation.
We do hope to return to in-person meetings at Lodge as soon as it is safe for us to do so. Be watching the website and Slack media for news of when we intend to resume in-person meetings.
Generally we do degree cycles (first, second, and third degree initiations) in the spring and the fall. The fall cycle starts in September. This means we will vote on petitions in August which in turn means we need to recive petitions in July, or by July 18th to be exact.
We suggest coming to one of our open events (those listed in gold on the front page of the website) to get a feel for the group and to get to know some members. Then if you'd like to join you can fill out a petition to do so, if two current masons are willing to recommend you and sign it. After that we have a few more open events coming up where you can continue to get to know other brothers before the vote in August.
Tickets are on sale now for "A Bump in the Night" which returns for its third year. This year we have decided to do away with the dinner party aspect of the event and instead introduce the Circus Perplexus, a spooky carnival that isn't meant to just amuse you, but to actually reach out and challenge you. We've also decided to offer not just one puzzle room, but three!
Step right up to the door of the Arcana Masonic Lodge and you'll discover a darkly whimsical world of entertainment and enigmas. Ride the Elevator of Horros to the second floor and make your way down the tunnel to the Circus Perplexus. Arrive early and enjoy our sideshow featuring a real life sword swallower, live music, and riddles to perplex you. Or perhaps stop at our Midway to play a game of explosive fun. Your team is tasked with defusing a bomb, but only one person is in the isolation chamber with the device. You must communicate with your teammates who have the instructions for defusing the bomb, but you only have a few minutes to get the instructions right. If that doesn't get your heart racing, then step over to the Arcade where we have a collection of classic games with a certain puzzle element to them that you can challenge your cohorts to. All this is included in your price of admission, but for a small additional charge you can also visit the tent of our tarot card reader or stop by our concessions area.
Of course this is all just a sideshow to the main event where you will visit one, or perhaps more of our puzzle rooms. In the basement we are reviving our puzzle room from 2015 as The Labyrinth. In addition to solving the puzzles that will lead you to safety, you'll have to work your way through a maze of obstacles that have accumulated in the basement of a century old mason lodge. The real question though is are you really down there alone?
Or perhaps you will go upstairs to the Lodge where we have recreated 2016's puzzle room as a ghost story. The Master of the Lodge was last seen going up the Lodge Room and was never seen again. Was he killed? Did he find a door to another dimension? Whatever the answer, strange ghostly happenings have been occuring since that day. Perhaps you can find out what happened and set the spirit finally to rest.
Then again, maybe you will want to try out our newest puzzle room, the Lounge. Another brother of the Lodge has been delving into some strange research lately and has been using the Lounge as his office. He seemed to be getting paranoid that someone was coming to steal his work and then he disappeared. Can you pick up his trail and discover what he was working on and where he might have gone?
We've been assemlbing our largest volunteer staff to date and we're hoping to more than double the business we did last year. With the Circus Perplexus, people are free now to come early before their puzzle room as well as stay after and thus make an entire evening out of it. The Circus is open from 5:30pm to 11:00pm the last two Fridays and Saturdays in October. The Puzzle Rooms run at 6:00, 7:30, & 9>00pm. Consequently a group could choose to do two of the puzzle rooms or even all three in one night.
The cost is $20 to do one puzzle room which includes admission to the Circus Perplexus. If you'd like to do two puzzle rooms, that would be $35, or you can pay $50 to do all three. Alternately, if you just want to come hang out at the Circus, you can do that for just $5. Tickets are available on this website and advance purchases are recommended for the puzzle rooms.