The Mason’s charter for the lodge, dated Oct. 30, 1907, boasts the early beginnings of what used to be called Concord Lodge. The 16-inch-thick walls hold pictures of past Worshipful Masters as well as the ever-visible Masonic symbol.
One hundred years after it began, the brotherhood of the Clermont Lodge is as strong, if not stronger, than the building’s walls.
"Some people say they would quit the church they were a member of before they would quit the lodge," Brian Williams, Clermont’s Junior Deacon, said.
Thursday, the brotherhood gathered with their wives and daughters in the building just above the post office of the tiny North Georgia town to celebrate their 100th year of service to their community.
After feasting on pulled-pork barbeque sandwiches and pecan pie prepared by a Mason who is a veteran Navy chef, the men tied on their ceremonial aprons, walked into the meeting hall and took their places.
Carl Ridley, 95, is the oldest member of the Clermont Lodge. He addressed his brothers at the centennial celebration.
He said there are three main principles to Freemasonry.
"Trust in yourself, love your fellow man and have faith in Almighty God," Ridley said. "Then we’ll see across that chasm."
He said the Masons help those who need food, clothing or shelter, assist wives of deceased brothers and help educate Masons’ children.
"We give what we can afford to pay for," Ridley said. "We can only give what we can afford to pay for, because if we haven’t paid for it, it’s not ours."
That service to the community was one reason he wanted to join the brotherhood 50 years ago, and is part of what a man must do to reach success.
"They had something, I didn’t know what it was, but I had to find out," Ridley said. "I did."
Ridley said the Masons examined his character by asking him questions and interviewing his wife before they voted him in 50 years ago.
"There’s a difference in character and reputation," Ridley said. "Character is what we are, reputation is what people think we are."
He said the Masons look for character and not reputation.
Williams, 22, is the youngest member of the Clermont Lodge. Williams, a deputy sheriff in Forsyth County, wanted to join the Masons after he saw how good the Shriners were to his family during his grandmother’s illness.
The Shriners are a related group to the Masons; only Master Masons are eligible to join the Shriners.
Williams has been a part of the lodge for more than a year, and he recently married the daughter of the lodge’s secretary, Leroy Oliver.
As the youngest member of the Clermont Lodge, Williams said he enjoys communing with the older men in the community, and sharing their wisdom.
"Growing up I never had people my age around me," Williams said. "I’m used to being around people that are older than me."
Although they have some 70-odd years between them, Williams echoed Ridley’s affirmation that the most important part of being a Mason is a belief in God.
"That should be the most important thing for everybody," Williams said.