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Note: Bill recently planned the last Masonic ceremony at the Statue of Liberty, the 127th reenactment of the Cornerstone Laying held August 2011. Present at the ceremony were two Deputy Grand Masters. Today, both gentlemen, MW Glenn R. Trautmann and MW James Sullivan are the Grand Masters of NJ and NY respectively.

Bill Maurer, who came to Liberty Island as a Ranger-Interpreter in 2004, is, as one reporter described him in a press release, "an erudite man in his mid-fifties."

Well, to be truthful, Right Worshipful Grand Representative to Washington State and Athelstane Lodge brother, Bill Maurer is wonderfully erudite and informed, although he was really 65 at the time of the release, and this week, at the age of 68, he retired from The National Park Service, which he joined in 2004, after he retired as the director of The Gomez Mill House, the oldest Jewish homestead in America.

Athelstane Lodge was invited to take one of his last tours. Although self-guided audio-tours and ranger-guided tours are still available, Bill Maurer is not AVAILABLE FOR TOURS... but he is wondering what to do with his time. I am sure he will devote much of his energy, and devotion to the Masons, who serve our wonderful country. I was very lucky to have had this outstanding human being, and gentleman as my guide, on July 7th, 2007, when I was treated to his vast knowledge, sense of humor... and charm.

As Bill explained, on August 5, 1984, the Grand Lodge of New York, observed the Centenary of the cornerstone laying at Liberty Island. A bronze plaque commemorating the original event was dedicated and affixed to the pedestal.

"Masons everywhere can take pride in the part our great Fraternity played in the creation and erection, nearly 100 years ago, of the most unique symbol of freedom and opportunity, the STATUE OF LIBERTY." says the Park Service guide. Bill was so proud of this. He made sure I took a photo. Bill's pride in Freemasonry, and his country, is apparent in his voice, in his words, and in his heart.

I learned from Bill that the designer and builder of the statue, Frederic Auguste Bartholdi was a member of Lodge Alsace Lorraine, in Paris. He finished the statue on May 21 1884 and it was accepted by America in Paris on the Fourth of July that year.

Plans were made in America for the laying of the cornerstone. It had been an American tradition for Masons to lay the cornerstone of major public and private buildings, ever since President George Washington, with the assistance of The Grand Lodge of Maryland, had laid the cornerstone of the United State Capitol on September 18, 1793. "Delegating the laying of the cornerstone to the Freemasons was a fitting tribute rendered to free men of high principles and recognized international reputations." *

On August 5, 1884, Brother Richard M. Hunt, the principal architect of the 89 foot high pedestal, presented the working tools to the Most Worshipful Grand Master William A. Brodie of Grand Lodge, New York, who, after laying a copper box containing a copy of The U.S. Constitution( and many objects of historical significance) within the cornerstone, "struck 3 blows, and declared that the cornerstone had been tested and found to be square, level, and plumb;" Deputy Grand Master R:. W:. Frank R. Lawrence applied the mortar, and had the stone lowered. In explaining why the Masonic Fraternity was called upon to lay the cornerstone, he said, " No institution has done more to promote liberty and to free men from the trammels and chains of ignorance than has Freemasonry." *
*"The Statue of Liberty and Freemasonry," by M:.W Robert S. Singer, past Grand Master of Grand Lodge, F.&A.M., New York.

Bill was impassioned as he spoke of the beauty, strength and symbolism of the torch. The right hand and torch were displayed at the Philadelphia World's Fair in 1876, for a sneak preview of what was to come.

Athelstane Brothers and family members, enjoy Bill's dramatic flair in describing the back story of the torch.

"From her beacon-hand glows world-wide welcome;" “I lift my lamp beside the golden door!" wrote poet Emma Lazarus.

The light which illuminates the Statue of Liberty is a guiding symbol for all men and nations,."

This figure is a masterpiece of design and skill, and holds aloft the torch of freedom in one hand, and the Book of Law with the date of American Independence, July 4, 1776, in the other. "

"Liberty Enlightening the World! How lofty the thought! To be free, is the first, the noblest aspiration of the human breast," said Deputy Grand Master R:. W:. Frank R. Lawrence. In 1994 the statue was declared a National Monument.

We entered the museum’s lobby, through the gorgeous, massive doors, whose symbols Bill explained, honored the workers who built this 25 ton metal marvel.

Everyone, including our children, learned so much. Bill told us how Gustave Eiffel designed the steel supports, and how the statue was built.

The pedestal was America’s responsibility. Joseph Pulitzer raised over $100.000 (a huge amount of money in the 1880’s) most of it donations to his newspaper and from school children. The lady was completed on May 21, 1884, but had to wait two years for the pedestal funds to be raised, the pedestal built and the Statue erected.


The poem by Emma Lazarus, "The New Colossus" 1883, was memorized by all the children in school, when we were kids, as I remember.

The New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
Emma Lazarus, 1883

The face of the Lady, a full scale replica in the lower lobby demands attention! Like this child, I needed to touch those massive lips, too, and was riveted by her gaze.
As i snapped photos many people stood proudly in front of her visage to have their photo taken beneath her watchful eyes.
The model for the face of the Goddess of Liberty, was THE ARTIST’S mother, Charlotte Beysser Bartholdi.

In 1880, the final stage was being prepared, and Levi Morton, later to be Governor of N.Y and Vice President was invited to drive the rivet in the first part to be mounted, "the big toe of the left foot."

I had my photo taken by that foot, and was astonished to discover that the length of her toes closely resembled my own, with the second digit, so much longer than the middle one. Now there is useless information for you, but this is my blog.

Dedication Day, October 18 1886, was declared a holiday in New York. 20,000 paraders moved past president Cleveland's reviewing stand, and down to the Battery.
The former railroad station, now Liberty State Park, where we purchased our ferry tickets, was once a nexus for all the produce coming by rail to be shipped up the Hudson, is where we waited for the ferry to Ellis Island. In earlier times, this is where the immigrants boarded to settle all over our country. It is located near the beautiful, new New Jersey Financial Center building.
The view of the lower Manhattan skyline is fabulous from the park around the terminal.
Editor’s Note: Bill was called back to the Statue when the ‘crown’ was opened to the public in 2009. He “retired” – for real – this February 2012.
©2016 Athelstane Lodge No 839 F & AM

R:.W:. Ronald J. Steiner, Secretary, Athelstane Lodge No 839 F & AM (Pearl River, NY)
18 Buena Vista Road, Wesley Hills, Suffern, NY 10901-1730
(845) 354-4192 • nysmason@aol.com • Athelstane839@aol.com