After attending the cornerstone dedication at the West Elk Clinic in Hotchkiss last fall, Wendell Koontz, then mayor of Hotchkiss, wondered why there was no cornerstone at the Hotchkiss Town Hall. The building, which was completed in 1984, also houses the community's senior center.
With the support of Mt. Lamborn Masonic Lodge and the Colorado Grand Masonic Lodge, that oversight was rectified May 3. Grand officers from across the state organized a trip to western Colorado, stopping first in Glenwood Springs to dedicate a cornerstone at the new middle school. Their next stop was Hotchkiss, and after an overnight stay, they were on the road to Cortez.
At each stop, the Masons carried out a ceremonial tradition that has changed very little since George Washington laid the cornerstone of our nation's capitol. Cornerstones have been part of the construction or dedication of many federal buildings and seats of state government.
Cornerstones are traditionally engraved with the date, the name of the Grand Lodge, the name of the building and the Masonic emblem.
The ancient working tools of the stonemasons are applied to the stone -- the plumb, the level and the square. With each application of the tools, the officers attest to the fact that the craftsmen have done their work correctly and with skill. The grand master then symbolically tests the stone with three knocks upon it, and dedicates the building using the symbolism of corn, wine, and oil. These three elements have been used in dedications of buildings since the time of ancient Rome, and represent nourishment and plenty (corn), joy (wine), and peace, healing, and comfort (oil).
Town officials, senior citizen board members and community members were handed a trowel and invited to scoop some cement onto the top of the cornerstone -- a purely symbolic gesture, as the cornerstone will not be incorporated into the building's exterior until later this month. A time capsule will fit into a cavity behind the cornerstone. The time capsule includes the most recent edition of the Delta County Independent, menus from Hotchkiss restaurants, lists of town officials, town staff and Masonic officers, pictures of town hall during construction, maps of the town, and other mementoes from Hotchkiss High School and Hotchkiss Fire District.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, an engraved trowel was presented to Mayor Larry Wilkening to commemorate the occasion.