Masonic display — Freemasons have played a large role in city's history


LACONIA — An exhibit which features the history of Mount Lebanon Lodge #32, the oldest continuous Freemason Lodge located in what became Belknap County, is now on display at the Laconia Public Library.
Pat Tierney, executive director of the Laconia Historical and Museum Society and Senior Warden of the Lodge, said the Lodge was founded in 1819, 10 years after Center Lodge, which was located in Sanbornton, was founded. That lodge was disbanded in the 1840s.
He said that the founder of the Center Lodge was John Adams Harper, one of the first lawyers to settle in what would become Belknap County, and who was the postmaster in Sanbornton. He moved to Meredith Bridge in 1806, and, after serving in the New Hampshire House, was elected as a Democratic-Republican to the 12th Congress in 1810, where he voted for the war of 1812. He was defeated later that year when he ran for re-election.

New Hampshire had five to seven congressmen serving at that time and that Harper was the first from the Laconia area.
Harper, who would die in 1816 at the age of 36, left behind a large mansion which was located off of Pleasant Street and would become Laconia's City Hall in the 20th century, serving until it was torn down during urban renewal in the 1970s. It was located where the Bank of New Hampshire's main office is currently located.
Tierney said eight members of Center Lodge were among those who took part in the opening ceremonies at which the Mount Lebanon Lodge was founded in 1819 and that the lodge originally met at the old Mansur House, which was known as Russell's Tavern, which was located just north of where Vista Foods is currently located in what was then Gilford.
Later the meetings were shifted to the Willard House, better known perhaps as the Willard Hotel, on South Main Street, which was located approximately at the entryway to Quik Laundry and Dy Cleaners.
The lodge took a prominent location on Main Street when the Masonic Temple building was built on 1892. Many people wondered why the Mount Lebanon Lodge chose this location. The next year, Laconia was incorporated as a city, and the post office, as well as city offices, were moved to the building. A hardware store occupied one area on the first floor and stored dynamite in the basement.
In December of 1902, a fire resulted from a massive explosion, which many said was the loudest sound they had ever heard. An Indiana newspaper reported the explosion on its front page and damage was estimated at $125,000. It's unclear if the cause was ever determined for the explosion.
The temple was rebuilt on the site in 1903. and for decades was one of the busiest locations on Main Street. It was at one time site of the WLNH broadcast studio.
Tierney said that the Masons remained in the building until 1984, when they moved to the former International Order of Odd Fellows building on Court Street, which they at first leased then later purchased.
He says that the Masons continue to practice their philanthrophic activities in support of local charities.
The exhibit features historical records of the organization, the altar that was used when they were located on Main Street, tools and furniture used in their rituals and photographs of former Worshipful Masters of the Lodge.
The exhibit, on the upper level of the library, will continue until March 1.

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The Laconia Historical and Museum Society has opened an exhibit on the history of Mount Lebanon Lodge #32 of the Masons at the Laconia Public Library. Taking part in the opening of the exhibit were Pat Tierney, president of the society and Senior Warden of the lodge; Walt Costa, Duane Stanton, treasurer; Matt Richards, Tyler; Carlos E. Cordon-Swain, Chris Reynolds, David T. Bennett, Worshipful Master; Andrew R. Thomas, Junior Warden; Richard A. Scacheri, Marshall; David Emberley, Joe Fadden and Craig Shippee. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

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An exhibit of some off the tools used by the Masons in their rituals is on display at the Laconia Public Library through March 1. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)




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Love INC to coordinate church and service organizations


LACONIA — Service to others is an integral part of Christianity. Each local church or organization has found its own way to minister to the needs of the poor, cold or hungry of the community, resulting in a patchwork of services available across the region. This created a sometimes problematic situation, where a person with specific or broad needs might require more than what their local church can meet, but that person's needs might be met by the collective abilities of several churches. Better that they all network together, and that's just what the organizers of Love INC are seeking to accomplish.

Love INC logoLove INC – the INC stands for "In the Name of Christ" – is an organization that is headquartered in Saint Paul, Minnesota, which started in 1977 and which currently has 155 affiliates around the country. Each affiliate employs a model that connects the local Christian churches and service organizations through a network. Love INC aims to act as a clearinghouse, so that when a person with a particular set of problems approaches a member of the network, the other members of the network can be leveraged to work together to more efficiently, and more effectively, provide charitable works.

A group of local people, representing a variety of churches and denominations, is organizing Love in the Name of Christ of the Lakes Region, which aims to bring such a network to central New Hampshire. Patrick's Pub and Eatery in Gilford is hosting a fundraiser to help launch the effort. From Dec. 11 to Dec. 15, diners who mention the organization will have 25 percent of their bill donated to Love INC which is opening an office in Laconia and which hopes to hire a part-time administrator.

Though the local effort is in its infancy, there are already 10 partners already on board, including some notable agencies such as the St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry, and the Salvation Army. Ultimately, organizers hope to include up to 60 local Christian entities, including members of all Christian denominations.

"One church can't do it by themselves," said Ron DeDucca, one of the organizers of Love INC of the Lakes Region, "but if we can be unified, we can do it in a much more effective manner."

A common problem for churches, DeDucca said, is that 90 percent of the work is performed by 10 percent of its members – the other church members might feel too busy or otherwise unable to help. Part of the Love INC model is to solicit "talent surveys" from member organizations, so that each person's abilities might be recorded and applied to a particular need. For example, a mechanic might be able to help a person get their car running, while another could help write a resume.

Ultimately, the goal of Love INC is to gather together thousands of talents so that individuals who come looking for a basic need can be helped in ways far greater. Linda Wright said the organization hopes to someday be able to offer classes, such as job interviewing skills, nutrition and cooking, and parenting.

For more information, visit

Paying it forward: The BipBoppity Boutique and fashion expo

By EMILY GRAY, Contributing Writer

LACONIA — Kim Ainsworth, founder of BipBoppity Boutique, has redefined the term "pay it forward." BipBoppity is a charitable dress boutique that offers free prom dresses and tuxes, as well as other special occasion wear such as semi-formal dresses, to any young person over the age of 12 in need. No verification of need is required to receive a free dress, but the recipient is asked to pay this deed forward with a good deed such as volunteering somewhere in the community or donating to a charitable event such as The Lakes Region Children's Auction.
This Sunday, Dec. 11, Ainsworth is hosting the first-ever BipBoppity Fashion Expo at Laconia High School. The doors open at noon, and the fashion show will start at 2 p.m. Tickets are available for purchase for $5 at the high school and BipBoppity Boutique now, but they will also be available at the door. The entry ticket also includes a free raffle ticket. The expo will have numerous vendors such as Avon, LuLaRoe, and, of course, some food options. There will be live music performed by local artists to enjoy while visiting the various vendors, or while purchasing more raffle tickets for the table raffle on products donated by the vendors.
The fashion show will be a team effort. There are 40 female models and five male models from the community taking the stage. Empire Beauty has volunteered to do the models' hair and Jenn's Color Bar is taking care of makeup. Various community members have pitched in for nails for the female models. The theme is "The Magic of Winter," and will showcase mostly formal wear, but there will be a couple of semi-formal and wedding dresses modeled to highlight the other forms of wear BipBoppity has to offer.
So how did Ainsworth start all this? Together, she and her daughter went to a similar boutique called the Cinderella Project, where her daughter received a free dress. Ainsworth also learned that the year she visited was the last the Cinderella Project would be available in New Hampshire. Ainsworth was devastated, but soon determined to "pay it forward" by creating a similar program for people like herself and her daughter.
"We are learning as we go," said Kim when explaining the process of starting BipBoppity. It took a year to gain a space and enough dresses to start. The Laconia Community Center donated the space, 700 dresses were donated to start and soon Rochester Dresses closed and gave 2,000 dresses to the program. For a while there was an issue with the racks-to-dresses ratio, but Peebles donated racks during the start-up. The Faith, Love and Hope Foundation also contributes every year now with a one-day event that accumulates about 100 dresses for the program.
The Fashion Expo is planned to be the main fundraising event annually for BipBoppity Boutique, which has been kept running through donations and out-of-pocket expenses paid for by Ainsworth. All proceeds from the expo will go directly to funding the Boutique. Eventually, Ainsworth wishes to move BipBoppity to a larger space, and maybe even open multiple locations around the state because this is the only program of its kind in New Hampshire.
So far, BipBoppity has given 100 young women and women dresses for their special night. After the fashion expo, word will likely spread and more women in need will visit BipBoppity versus deciding not to go to events like Prom just because of the cost. Eventually, Ainsworth would like to assist young women wishing to attend the prom in other ways, like tickets, or hair and makeup.

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