About VASA Rockport

Lodge Spiran, Vasa Order of America, was chartered on April 6, 1906 with 36 charter members of Swedish birth or background, organized for the primary purpose of a sick and death benefit society.

Meetings were held twice a month in the Tavern, the present site of the Rockport Art Association, Main St. By the year 1910, membership had increased so that the lodge moved to Haskins Hall, 37-39 Main Street, Rockport. Meetings were conducted in the Swedish language.

In the year 1917, the lodge purchased the presently owned building at the corner of School Street and Broadway, formerly used as a lodging house for the employees of the Annisquam Cotton Mill across the street, the present site of the George J. Tarr School. Purchase price was $2500. Plans for extensive renovations were made and a mortgage of ten thousand dollars to cover the cost of the renovations was completly paid within ten years. Som of the fund raising affairs held at this time and over a period of years since have been: plays and shows, a Swedish Men's Glee Club, bazaars, carnivals, exhibitions, picnics, and cake sales.

Following the payment of the mortgage in 1926 was the Golden Age of the lodge. Many of the original members were still living to enjoy the fruits of their labors on behalf of the lodge. The time was right for fun and enjoyment. The cellar of the lodge building was excavated by the men of the lodge who were allowed to perform this work and thus pay their annual dues. Many happy hours were spent in the bowling alley installed in the cellar.

A children's club was formed in 1933 with Mrs. Anna Nelson and Mrs. Elizabeth Swanson the leaders of about twenty children. They learned Swedish songs and dances and Swedish culture and had an enjoyable time doing so. They performed in Rockport in their Swedish national costumes on several occasions and were well received.

In 1940, the town of Rockport celebrated the centennial of its incorporation as a town. Lodge Spiran took part in the festivities by demonstrating Swedish dancing at the Legion bandstand on Beach Street.

In 1949, the use of the Swedish language in conducting the meetings was changed to the English Language, thus enabling newer members who did not understand the Swedish language to take a fuller part in the business, cultural, and social activities of the lodge. Lodge membership for approximately the next twenty years did not increase at a very high rate. This was thought to be for a number of factors:

  1. Many of the original members had passed on and their children and their children's children in some cases had been uninterested or unmotivated to carry on the example of their forbearers.
  2. WWII had come and gone and some of the potential members had relocated in other parts of the country.
  3. Inter-marriage sometimes meant discontinuance of ethnic affairs and interests.
  4. Many younger, potential members were busy raising families and/or earning a living and were part of the "catching-up" generation, trying to recoup after the depression of the thirties and the subsequent duties of WWII.

The lodge continued, if at a slower pace until the next major innovation. This came in 1960 when Vasa membership was extended by the Grand Lodge to include those people who by birth, background, or marriage, were aligned with any of the Scandinavian countries; Finland, Denmark, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden. (Formerly only those of Swedish background were eligible). At the present time Lodge Spiran has representatives of all of these countries except Iceland.

Starting in the early 1970's, a new burst of interest was enkindled in the lodge. Many people realized that:

  1. It is rewarding to find fellowship and fraternity in the common interest of their Scandinavian background.
  2. People recognized that it is desirable and pleasureable to seek worthwhile use of leisure time in their own town without aimlessly persuing it elsewhere.
  3. With the coming of America's bicentennial, people were looking to their ethnic backgrounds more assiduously.

The lodge is still going strong.

 

Spiran Lodge No.98

Elected Officers


Chairman:Herman Lilja

Vice chairman:William Holmes

Secretary:Shirley French

Financial Secretary:Susan Lovasco

Treasurer:Herman Lilja

Chaplain:John Korpi

Inner Guard:Juliana McGovern

Outer Guard:William Ghen

Master of Ceremonies:Jessica Matus

Asst. Master of Ceremonies:Barbara Anderson

Editor, Spiran Speaker:Herman Lilja

Webmaster:

Past Chairman:Marian Parco

Wellness Committee:Judy Harris

Trustees:Eva Korpi

Jessica Matus

Claire Whitten

Barbara Anderson

Dana Woods

Auditors:Kristie Belle

Nikki Korkatti

Elana Brink

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