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Published April 01, 2012, 03:40 PM

Historic Grand Forks Masonic Center Opens Doors to Public

GRAND FORKS (WDAZ-TV) - The historic Masonic Center in downtown Grand Forks has had its doors open to members since 1913. This weekend, it's hoping to extend membership by inviting people inside to show the community what the temple has to offer.

GRAND FORKS (WDAZ-TV) - The historic Masonic Center in downtown Grand Forks has had its doors open to members since 1913. This weekend, it's hoping to extend membership by inviting people inside to show the community what the temple has to offer.

Most people call it one of the most historic buildings in town.

"It's kind of the hidden jewel in Grand Forks," Shriner Ron Berg said.

And the rumor on the streets is there are ghosts.

"The mystery around it peaks their interest so it's kind of fun to just tease them a little bit," Shriner Bill Steckler said.

But members are the first to dispel that myth. The Grand Forks Masonic Center is home to about 400 members, both Masons and Shriners.

"Very important part of Grand Forks, a lot of history here and a lot of important people in the community have belonged to one of the groups within this building," Stechler said.

From former mayors to your average Joe, the group attracts men who want to be part of a fraternity-like organization.

"Camaraderie of the members, it’s a close knit group of guys, all religions, all race, all walks of life," Berg said.

"If a need arises within our membership, we are quick to respond and come together for the people in our group," Steckler said.

The archive room houses all of historical memorabilia dating back to the late 1800s. The fez is a hat worn by all Shriners and this hat could have been worn by some of the founding fathers here in Grand Forks.

"They're real treasures now," Steckler said.

Ritual is a big piece of the pie for this group, but you have to join to learn the secrets. Even though membership has dwindled over the years, the organization is doing its best to stay prominent in the community.

"We've had the thirteenth year of positive growth and actually lead the nation as far as being able to bring on new members every year," Berg said.

"Just like everything that's worthwhile, you like to share it with anyone else," Steckler said.

The only requirement to join is to believe in a deity, so atheists could not join.

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