Opinion: Treasures on Earth

Published 9:27 am Monday, July 24, 2023

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By NOAH WORTHAM | Staff Writer

A recent fire destroyed an older building in the city of Columbiana and much of its history along with it.

Most of the historic South Shelby Lodge #140 in Columbiana is burned down after a fire broke out and consumed it during the early hours of July 15.

As I interviewed the secretary of the lodge, John King, I learned about the history of the Freemason lodge here in the town I’ve spent most of my life in.

The building is believed to have been constructed in 1940s and was purchase by the lodge in the 1980s. However, King shared the masons have been meeting in Columbiana since 1850.

Many items were lost in the fire, including historic photographs of members of the lodge.

“My grandfather, my father, my brother, mine and many, many more dating back into the 1800s were burned,” King said.

The fire that consumed South Shelby Lodge #140 in Columbiana serves as an example of how fragile our historical relics are.

Members of the lodge have gotten some photos back in the form of copies through photos others took of their family members but they will never have back the originals.

“We’ll gather what we can get, but it falls in the irreplaceable category,” King said.

It brings to mind the famous burning of the Library of Alexandria as I consider how much history has been lost to fire, weather, war and negligence.

It is so easy to get caught up in our daily lives and take the simple things for granted that can so easily be taken away. That brand-new television can be replaced and will become outdated anyway, but you can never replace that photograph of a lost family member.

For King, perhaps the most important piece history at the lodge was a particular Bible, and it was finally retrieved from the building after multiple tries by the fire department. However, King shared that it may be beyond repair. That particular Bible carries sentimental value for King as it serves as the document upon which the members are sworn in.

We live in a country that is so blessed with possessions and technology it is easy to lose sight of the things that matter. Things that mean so much but are so easily destroyed.

It is an absolute blessing that no one was harmed in the blaze, but that doesn’t mean that there wasn’t a heavy cost in some form or another.

For now, members of the South Shelby lodge will continue to meet at the regularly scheduled times at Calera Lodge #445 until they figure out a new plan, but unfortunately, there is no stopping what’s been done.

“Our membership has to think about what It is our membership wants to do and there are a lot of options that we’ve got to go through,” King said.