Stairlift installed in Masonic Lodge

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The Fortitude Masonic Lodge in Two Harbors will be more accessible after a pair of donations from an affiliated organization's members funded the installation of a two stairlifts in the building.

Donations from the estates of Ralph and Beatrice Griffis of Grand Marais and Helen Carlstrom of Two Harbors paid to install stairlifts on the stairway down into the social room and on the stairway up into the chapter meeting room.

The Griffises and Carlstrom were members of the Order of the Eastern Star, an affiliate organization open to Master Freemasons or women with family members who are Masons.

Carlstrom's donation was made specifically for the stairlifts in the Two Harbors lodge, but she died in July 2015 and was never able to see her gift in action.

"(Carlstrom) really needed it," Alene Aho, an Eastern Star member and a driving force behind the installation, said. "But she came to every meeting and struggled up and down those stairs."

The stairlift was installed three months ago. The Order of the Eastern Star installed a plaque dedicating the equipment in memory of Carlstrom and the Griffis families.

The process was a little more complicated than originally intended, according to Aho, because the lodge had to get a waiver from the state to install the stairlift in the Masonic Lodge. The lodge is considered a public building and the stairlift, purchased from and installed by Arrow Lift in Duluth, is intended for private residences.

The building has a few stairs outside that most members can negotiate, but upon getting into the front door, members are faced with another obstacle. To get into social room, members must descend another stairway. To get into the chapter room, attendees ascend an even longer set of stairs, making it difficult to get anywhere in the building without assistance.

"Hopefully, this will get those that were reluctant to come back out to meetings and social events," Aho said.