Milledgeville’s Masonic Lodge is celebrating its 200th anniversary this year. Although the organization has been around a long time, not many know about it.

The Milledgeville Mason Lodge, known as the Benevolent No. 3 Lodge, is turning 200 this year. The group was granted their charter in 1817, one of the oldest in Georgia.

The Masons call a four-story building home on East Hancock Street.

They’re a countrywide fraternal and philanthropic organization, but many don’t know much about the Masons.

“We’re not a secret society, we’re a society with secrets, just like a fraternity," Junior Warden, Philip Spence said.

Mason Philip Spence has been a member of Lodge No. 3 since 2013. He says to become a Mason you have to be a male at least 21 years old. But the hardest part is finding a way in.

“If you want to be a Mason, you have to find a Mason or know a Mason and fill out a petition and go through the various degrees to become a Master Mason," Spence said.

Spence says there are some belief requirements as well.

“You must believe in a supreme being, whether that’s God, or Jesus, or Allah, or whoever," Spence said, although Spence says at their meetings, there are two things Masons do not discuss: politics and religion.

Beyond that, Spence couldn’t describe further what goes on in Mason meetings, but says their focus is on helping the community, although he says you may not know it’s the Masons helping.

Spence says the group doesn’t like to boast about the charitable donations they make throughout the year.

“You know, we don’t put a price on making a family feel good in their time of need, or you know, sponsoring that Boy Scout so he can go to camp, or that team so they can have uniforms," Spence said. "We don’t really look at what it costs, we look at how it can help the community.”

The Benevolent No. 3 Lodge has roughly 175 active members, and Spence says it’s the organizations history and involvement in the community that keeps them successful.

In 1959, there were 4.1 million Masons across the country. Last year, that number was down to only to 1.1 million.

The Milledgeville Masons will be hosting an open house this upcoming Saturday at 10 a.m. at the Lodge on East Hancock Street in Milledgeville.