Monday, July 23, 2012

Bannack School

Did you go to Bannack Days over the weekend? Here's a Bannack memory in case you missed it:

The Masonic Lodge in the ghost town of Bannack was designed to serve a double function as a fraternal meeting hall and a schoolhouse. The odd combination was really not so strange. Masons were a strong presence in Montana Territory and education of children on the frontier was one of the first considerations in the earliest mining camps. A double ceiling and floor between stories kept the ground floor school and the upstairs meeting room entirely soundproof and separate to protect the Masons’ secret rites. An outside stairway provided access to the meeting room. The final element the building required was a large, smooth piece of wood on which the lodge numbers and emblem could be carved. But Bannack had no piece of wood large enough or smooth enough for the purpose. Then a woman came forward and offered her treasured breadboard brought from her home back east. W. G. Blair carved the lodge numbers and the Masonic square and compass upon it. Workmen installed it beneath the peak of the roof. The Masons used the lodge hall only briefly, but the school long served Bannack’s children.

This 2012 photo shows Bannack's well-preserved Masonic Lodge, complete with breadboard.
Photo originally shared on the Montana Historical Society Facebook page.
By the mid-twentieth century, however, the building sagged. Its roof disintegrated, the windows stood open to the elements, and only shreds of paint covered the outside walls. The carved breadboard, once tucked under the roof’s peak, was removed for safekeeping. In 1954, Bannack became a state park, and in the 1970s, staff began preservation of the Masonic Lodge. Reinstalling the cherished breadboard to its original position was the final step, and there it remains today.

From More Montana Moments
P.S. remember this scandal at the Normal School in Dillon?

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