The public is invited to feast their eyes — and stomachs — at a special event next weekend.
Newton Masonic Lodge No. 142 will host a pancake feed and open house from 7 to 11 a.m. April 20 at 106 E. Broadway St.
The meal will feature all-you-can-eat pancakes, sausage, coffee and juice for $6. Eggs made to order will be an additional $1 each. All proceeds will benefit flood relief efforts in Nebraska.
"Service and community are two of the biggest things that we really like to focus on," said Senior Deacon Matt Hockett.
Last year, the lodge sent 23 boxes of items as care packages to troops deployed overseas.
"We've got a brother in the unit who was deployed, so we started out just kind of wanting to help him out, but then we realized we've got a bunch of guys from our community over there," Hockett said.
Hockett hopes people will be drawn to visit the historic building, which was built in 1879.
"We wanted to open up the lodge so people could see it and learn some of its history," Hockett said.
Newton's Masonic lodge was formed in 1873 and met at Fifth and Main streets until the building at Broadway and Main streets was constructed. That building not only held the Masonic temple; it housed city offices and the county courthouse.
"This lodge is one of the original lodges (in Kansas). A lot of lodges around the state are closing. It's hard to keep these places up and running and keep them historically preserved," Hockett said.
Pancake feed attendees can tour the dining hall, with portraits of past Worshipful Masters lining its walls and a stage placed on the west end. The lodge itself features a balcony, stained glass windows and a desk made in Damascus, Syria, in 1922.
"I've driven by this place so many times and, until two years ago, I didn't know what was here," Hockett said. "It's the biggest hidden gem in Newton."
Though several members of Hockett's family were Masons, he rarely heard them speak of the organization's inner workings.
"Growing up, they didn't really explain it to me ... it wasn't talked about a whole lot, but that's starting to change in this day and age. You have to talk about it or else it dies out," Hockett said.
The fraternal organization is open to any man over the age of 18.
"Freemasonry in modern culture has the stigma of being a secret society or a cult or the Illuminati — that's so far from the truth," Hockett said. "We're honestly just a bunch of guys (whose) focus is taking good men and making them better."
That self-improvement comes from learning principles and being involved in community.
"It's helped me become a better man and, hopefully, a better father, husband, son and friend," Hockett said.
While some aspects are kept secret, many lodges are becoming more open in order to draw in younger members.
"For the most part, it's just about making yourself better," Hockett said. "I've enjoyed it immensely. It's been a blessing in my life, for sure."
For more information about Newton Masonic Lodge No. 142, call 316-281-1199 or visit newtonlodge142.org.