Joining with Masonic lodges across the State, Freemasons in Waldo County will open their doors to the public on Saturday, Oct. 15, as part of Square & Compasses Day, a state-wide celebration of Freemasonry.

Those participating in Waldo County include:

Belfast — Freemasons meeting in the Masonic Hall at 17 Wight St. in Belfast will open their doors to the public from noon to 3 p.m.

Thorndike — Freemasons meeting in the Masonic Hall at 60 Gordon Hill Road in Thorndike will open their doors to the public from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

If you’ve ever wondered who the Freemasons are, whether they are really descendants of the Knights Templar, what the inside of their buildings look like, or how to become a Mason, here’s your chance to find out.

More than 180 lodges will be hosting open houses to help the public gain a better understanding of what Freemasonry is, and the positive impact that is has on its members, their families and communities. Members will provide tours of their building, talk about Freemasonry’s history, discuss its rituals, signs and symbols, and explain what they do.

“Square & Compasses Day is a great opportunity for anyone interested in learning more about Freemasonry to meet and talk with Masons in their community,” said W. Louis Greenier II, Grand Master of Masons in Maine and the presiding officer over 20,000 members, in a press release. “Although many have heard of us, very few are aware that for nearly 250 years in Maine we have been part of an unbroken tradition of great men who have changed our world in ways both big and small. Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Thurgood Marshall and John Glenn, as well as Maine’s own Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain and philanthropist Harold Alfond, for example. All joined the Masons prior to achieving the greatness for which we recognize them. There are countless other great men, whose names are not widely known, that made their families, workplaces, and communities better because they were Masons. I warmly invite the public to join us on Oct. 15.”

Freemasons trace their roots to the stonemason guilds that built Europe’s cathedrals and castles during the early to midyears of the last millennium. As construction of these buildings declined, they began accepting members from outside their trade. These new members, influenced by the “Age of Enlightenment,” transformed the organization from a group for builders to one focused on developing the character of its members.

Freemasonry was formally organized in London, England in 1717. The first Maine Masonic lodge was chartered in 1762, and the Grand Lodge of Maine was formed by one of the first statutes enacted by the new Maine Legislature in 1820.

Freemasonry, the world’s oldest and largest fraternity, seeks to bring together men of every country, religion, race, background and opinion, and to develop the bonds of friendship between them. Through a large variety of North American Masonic organizations, such as the Shriners, approximately $3,000,000 is given as charity every day, 70 percent of which benefits the general public.

During its initiation ceremony, which uses symbolism and allegory, its members are encouraged to value principles, ethics and morality, and to live their lives accordingly. By “making good men better,” Freemasonry positively benefits its members, families and communities.

For additional information, call 773-5184 or (888) 220-9606, or visit mainemason.org. Malcolm Gater of Belfast Lodge may also be contacted at 338-4578, or e-mail magaters@roadrunner.com for more information. For more information about the Thorndike Lodge, visit: unitylodge.hutchinsbrothers.com, or email brohutchins@yahoo.com.