Freemasons Are Staging a Comeback, Thanks to Millennials


"That's where we sacrifice the goats," deadpans a man who looks to be in his late 20s as he points to an altar in the middle of the Orange Grove Masonic Lodge No. 293's main room. A large, multicolored star adorns the two-story-high ceiling. The impressive hall used to be the Campbell Opera House: A few rows of theater-style seats line the rectangular space, with a stage in one end zone and a throne-like chair in the center of the other.

A handful of guys laugh. "It's mostly just used to hold a big book or two," another young Master Mason chimes in, referring to his group's tradition of having a holy text on the altar during their functions. And that's about the most exciting thing that happens here. In a few hours, the same room will fill with men, women and children of all ages for the lodge's monthly general meeting. Worshipful Master Dennis Rootes, the group's leader, will lead the proceedings, with a mural of the orange groves that used to surround the area painted on the wall behind him. The Master Masons (members who have completed at least three degrees) will wear small embroidered white aprons that signify purity, truth, sincerity, honesty and a whole bunch of other moralistic do-goodery.

At the beginning of the tour, only one Mason was present: Orange Grove's Senior Warden, Mike Selix, the second in command around here. As Selix worked his way through each r