CMMT Chairman Mark Pressey: A Connection to History


By Justin Japitana

Chairman of the California Masonic Memorial Temple board Mark Pressey: What do you find especially meaningful about this building? 

Mark Pressey: Besides being a wonderful building that supports the charitable efforts of the California Masonic Foundation, I love how the building also serves as a war memorial. My father served in WWII, and his father became a Mason around the time the temple was being built. It was a great honor for him to make a donation and see it get constructed. Now, whenever I enter the Grand Lodge, I can feel what my grandfather felt then, and it’s something I’ll never forget.

What’s your favorite thing about serving on the California Masonic Memorial Temple board?

M.P.: Walking into any lodge, there’s this great energy where everyone greets you and you all catch up. That energy is multiplied a hundredfold when I go to Annual Communication. The building really is a shared experience and a shared history for all of us in the fraternity.

What can other lodges learn from the CMMT about using their halls to tell the story of Freemasonry to the public?

M.P.: We hope people see the CMMT and Freemasons’ Hall as an example of how to renovate their own lodge space to make it relevant for the next generation. We’re adding QR codes around the building, which will link visitors to information about the building as well as about the history of California Freemasonry. QR codes are great, as they’re not so intrusive to rental tenants, yet still highly impactful. We hope this gives lodges some ideas to take home and pursue in their communities.

Any other favorite memories of the Grand Lodge building?

M.P.: When I was a young parent, I remember pushing my son in a stroller up Taylor Street, the steep hill that leads to the building. My thighs were burning, but I really wanted him to experience coming into Grand Lodge there.

In addition to being chairman of the board of the California Masonic Memorial Temple, you’re also a charter member of the Cornerstone Society. Can you share more about why planned giving is important to you?

M.P.: Giving back is very important to me. My desire to give has grown as I became a Mason. I wasn’t the biggest donor at first, but I believed in the programs and resources that we’ve developed, so over time, my giving has increased and has become more purposeful. It’s more than just writing a check; I’m also setting an example for others to give back to the organization that has given so you so much. In my lodge, Irvine Valley № 671, we had a member named Ben Sorrells, a past master of Saddleback Laguna № 672, who’d give way above what anybody in lodge gave to the Annual Fund. That impressed me. He gave back with purpose, and when he passed away, I was determined to step up my giving and to fill in his shoes. I think about him quite often still.

To donate to the California Masonic Foundation, please visit

JR Sheetz

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