I was a guest of honor today as the local Masonic Temple celebrated their 125th anniversary. The Masons were actually chartered and established in 1883, one year before the town itself was officially chartered!
The program included an overview of the history of the lodge and of their quarters through the years, including the construction of the current building. I remember the construction of the current building from visits home during my college and graduate school years. It also highlighted the many charitable causes and community efforts they have been involved in over the last century and a quarter. An amazing body of work, especially the efforts related to children and their well being.
The fact that this organization has been an important part of the area for so long led me to think about some of the other community organizations that have been active over similar time spans. The only other organizations I could quickly think of that were started in the 1800's and are still an active part of the community today are all churches or church related. Most of the other service clubs such as the Lions and Kiwanis all came later in the 1900's. Even my own roots in the area trace back no further than the WWI era when my great grandfather homesteaded here. (An interesting story in its own right that I may explore in another post.)
Are there organizations in your town that are as old or older than the town itself? Are they still an active part of the community? Tell me about them. I think it is fascinating to hear about such long lived organizations and their influences on the communities they serve.