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Location: West Medway

Chartered By: William Sewall Gardner

Charter Date: 03/08/1871 1871-43

Precedence Date: 03/09/1870

Current Status: Active


  • Alfred Ashton, 1870
  • James M. Seavey, 1871, 1872
  • William K. McKean, 1873, 1874
  • Roswell K. Colcord, 1875
  • Charles W. Seavey, 1876, 1877
  • George H. Daniels, 1878, 1879
  • Clarke P. Harding, 1880-1882; SN
  • George R. Temple, 1883, 1884
  • Edward S. Harding, 1885, 1886
  • Almond G. Partridge, 1887, 1888, 1898; Mem
  • James H. Wood, 1889
  • Elmer E. Holbrook, 1890, 1891
  • Sylvester Greenwood, 1892, 1893
  • George M. Harding, 1894-1896
  • Charles F. Hutchinson, 1897
  • Charles P. Griffin, 1899, 1900
  • Warren E. Fairbanks, 1901, 1902
  • Henry C. Holbrook, 1903, 1904
  • J. Even Partridge, 1905, 1906
  • David Bigwood, 1907
  • Herbert W. Shaw, 1908, 1909; SN
  • William W. Ollendorff, 1910, 1911; N
  • Albert L. Saunders, 1923, 1924
  • George W. Howarth, 1912, 1913
  • Osgood T. Dean, 1914, 1915
  • Will P. Bickley, 1916, 1917
  • W. Irving Kelsey, 1918, 1919
  • Harry J. Adams, 1920, 1921
  • Albert L. Saunders, 1922, 1923
  • Richard D. Chase, 1924, 1925
  • John R. Labaree, 1926, 1927
  • Ralph L. King, 1928
  • Ernest T. Camp, 1929
  • Laurence A. Mott, 1930
  • Fred B. Clark, 1931
  • H. W. Blethen, 1932
  • Edward A. Harding, 1933; SN
  • John L. Hunter, 1934, 1935
  • Andrew T. Watson, 1936
  • William W. Fairbanks, 1937
  • Alden B. Cole, 1938
  • Arthur D. Hill, 1939
  • Abraham T. Handverger, 1940; SN
  • Samuel W. Baader, 1941
  • William R. Simpson, 1942
  • Ambrose R. Saunders, 1943
  • Daniel L. Phillips, 1944
  • Wilfred M. Leggee, 1945
  • Edwin H. Gronberg, 1946
  • Irving A. Gilfix, 1947
  • George L. Hamilton, 1948
  • Robert E. Milligan, 1949
  • Clifford W. Bosselman, 1950
  • Howard C. Ayer, 1951
  • John H. Wilson, 1952
  • Ralph Schwendenman, 1953
  • Joseph A. Roberts, 1954
  • Anthony Ciliberti, 1955
  • Lawrence MacKenney, 1956
  • Cornelius C. Stokes, 1957
  • Wallace D. Wills, 1958
  • Gildo Pederzini, 1959
  • Harold A. Morton, 1960
  • Robert R. Blake, 1961
  • Wallis G. Phillips, 1962
  • Allan A. Kingsbury, 1963
  • Morris Geller, 1964; N; Mem
  • C. Theodore Whitley, 1965 N
  • Howard N. Kane, 1966
  • J. Stanley McQuade, 1967
  • William B. Duncan, 1968
  • Gordon Thurlow, 1969
  • Keith A. Krewson, 1970
  • Richard W. Graham, 1971, 1981; PDDGM
  • Ronald J. Dolloff, 1972
  • Alexander Boudreau, 1973
  • Alfred B. Wood, 1974
  • James R. Matthews, 1975
  • Philip A. Prairie, 1976
  • Raymond H. McCausland, 1977
  • Robert L. Ripley, 1978
  • John T. Doyle, 1979
  • Wayne M. Vinton, 1980, 1991, 2004, 2005
  • Frederick H. McMaster, 1982
  • Robert S. Doucette, 1983
  • Hugh F. McGrail, 1984
  • Philip E. Hollister, 1985
  • Eugene R. Liscombe, 1986
  • Gilbert F. McMaster, 1987
  • Thomas A. Lacouture, 1988
  • Norman E. Vine, 1989
  • Mark G. Cerel, 1990, 1998-2001
  • Richard M. Huber, 1992
  • Timothy C. Eburne, 1993
  • Francis E. Martinis, 1994
  • Barry J. Vidito, 1995
  • Stephen S. Abate, 1996, 1997
  • Frederick R. L. Wise, 2002, 2003
  • John A. Rose, 2006, 2007
  • Robert A. Mosher, 2008, 2009; DDGM


  • Petition for Dispensation: 1870
  • Petition for Charter: 1871


  • 1945 (75th Anniversary)
  • 1971 (Centenary)



1872 1874 1876 1889 1899 1910 1912 1923 1933 1937 1945 1956 1960 1974 1979 1985 1989 1991 2003


  • 1945 (75th Anniversary History, 1945-121; see below)
  • 1971 (Centenary History, 1971-172; see below)


From Proceedings, Page 1945-121:

by Right Worshipful William W. Ollendorff.

Seventy-five years to look forward is a long time, but seventy-five years in retrospect is a short space considering Masonic history and the fact that some of the present members of Charles River Lodge remember several of those whose names appear on the original charter. Let us bear in mind, history in the making is more interesting than history repeated, and the records of Charles River Lodge that cannot be revealed would be very interesting to the public.

It is generally known that Charles River Lodge had as its parent Montgomery Lodge of Milford. Medway, in 1870, was a flourishing Town of over four thousand inhabitants, including what is now Millis. There were about a dozen boat shops; vital statistics were printed for the first time that year in the town records and showed ninety-three births, thirty-two marriages and fifty-two deaths; fifty-four buildings were enlarged and erected; the town bought two new pumping engines that year, "The Torrent," for West Medway, and "The Rapid" for Medway, costing $2,780.00.

Medway was fairly well rooted in Masonry because she famished quite a number of members of Montgomery Lodge when its first meeting place was close by, in Rockville, in the Dr. Nathaniel Miller house, where the Lodge was organized in 1797. The house, still standing, is located at what is known as "River End," then known as "Toil End Brook."

In 1808, the Grand Lodge gave Montgomery Lodge permission to move to Medway West Parish, to the Levi Adams place, where meetings were held for nine years. This is the building located at the corner of Main Street, then Hartford Turnpike, and Summer Street, near the Caryville line. It is known as the McCullum place. The meetings were held from four to seven p.m. This building was owned by Granville McCullum, one of the organizers of Charles River Lodge.

Brother McCullum was a Scotchman, very fond of music, and lived to be an old man. During his last sickness, he was visited by some of the Brothers of the Lodge, whom he told he did not expect to recover, and requested that his funeral might be held in the Second Congregational Church and that a brass band play suitable music from his home to the sacred edifice and to the cemetery. His request was granted and the largest number of Masons marched in the procession that had been seen in town for years. The funeral took place June 10th, 1888, and the West Medway Brass Band led the procession to and from the cemetery. The parish minister who officiated had recently become a Mason and wore the appropriate Sprig of Acacia in his button-hole. He was severely criticized for this by members of his congregation.

The next meeting place in Medway, of Montgomery Lodge, was the so-called Masonic Hall, now known as the Historical Hall, at the junction of Main and Franklin Streets. Here they met almost nineteen years, from 1818 to 1837. In the earlier years of this period, the order was very popular in this part of the country and most of the prominent men had joined and were enthusiastic members.

In 1829, a cold anti-Masonic wind swept over the entire country and many Lodges succumbed. To Brother Nathan Burr, twentieth and twenty-second Master of Montgomery Lodge, belongs the credit of preserving the charter and records of Montgomery Lodge, when, fearful of their safety from the many enemies of the order, he, for a while, carried the charter on his person, sewed in the lining of his coat; later, he took both charter and records and nailed them in a box which he buried in his field under a haystack.

On June 27, 1837, Montgomery Lodge moved to Hathon's Tavern, Medway Village, on the easterly corner of Village and Broad Streets. Here the Lodge remained for nine years more, when on December 17, 1845, they moved to the William White house, only a short distance from Hathon's Tavern. It only stayed there for three meetings, until February 11, 1846. The next meeting place was in what we knew as the front part of Hirsh and Park Straw Shop, where the V.F.W. Hall now stands. It was in this hall, after passing through the dark days of Masonry, that the Lodge raised its first candidate in about twenty years, which was in 1848. Then the Lodge moved to Milford December 1, 1852.

These statistics of Montgomery Lodge are given to show there really was no need of another Masonic Lodge in Medway. While no doubt there probably was consideration of a Masonic Lodge in Medway for sometime previous, the first actual record of Charles River Lodge shows that on February 5, 1870, twenty Masonic Brothers met and voted to present a petition to the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge for a dispensation empowering them to meet "in order to improve themselves in Masonry." The reason they gave was a feeling that communication with their respective Lodges was too great a distance to attend. We can well understand the justness of their request in those horse and buggy days, through heavy winter's snow and summer heat. It is interesting to note that out of the twenty who first met, seven were dimitted from Montgomery Lodge, so the ether thirteen must have been Masons elsewhere. When the charter was presented, it contained two additional members of Montgomery Lodge, dimitted, that were not present at the first meeting. One who was a member of Montgomery Lodge and two others who were at the organization evidently decided not to join Charles River Lodge. The records of Montgomery Lodge of February 10, 1870, five days after the first meeting of what was to be Charles River Lodge, show a vote to recommend the petition of Brother Alfred Ashton and others for a Lodge to be located in West Medway. The nine members of Montgomery Lodge who were charter members of Charles River Lodge were dimitted from the former Lodge March 2, 1871, although the dispensation for Charles River Lodge was granted on March 9,1870, signed by the Most Worshipful Grand Master, William Sewall Gardner, and Solon Thornton, Recording Grand Secretary.

At the first meeting of Charles River Lodge, Brother Alfred Ashton was elected the first Master of the Lodge. Brother Leander Daniels, who was a prosperous boat manufacturer, and one of the charter members, ran the big shop at the corner of Main and Mechanics Streets and lived in the house opposite, was elected the first Treasurer of Charles River Lodge. Then came the first big day for Charles River Lodge, when on April 11, 1871, a special communication of the Grand Lodge was held in Mechanics Hall, West Medway, for the purpose of constituting the Lodge and installing the officers. Acting as Grand Master was Right Worshipful George E. Stacy of Montgomery Lodge, who was well known to the Lodges of this section as one of the most proficient in Masonry. He was our first District Deputy Grand Master and visited officially for the first time on September 13, 1871. Many of us remember Right Worshipful Brother Stacy, with flowing white beard, who was a regular attendant of his Lodge and who was one of the most important in the District. Mechanics Hall was located on Main Street, on the easterly corner of Cottage Street. It was here Charles River Lodge flourished for about two years.

It was on September 21, 1870, the Lodge raised its first two candidates, Brother Daniel S. Woodman, who was a boat maker, took an active part in town affairs, was a member of the G.A.R., became Representative to the General Court and served several years as Postmaster of West Medway, and Brother William A. McKean of Caryville, who was actively interested in the Caryville Mills, known as Taft, McKean & Co. He was Master of Charles River Lodge a number of years, and was known for having a ritual work of his own which was hardly ever twice alike. He was very popular, and when Charles River Lodge moved to the so-called Grand Army Building, on the third floor, the summer heat made some of the meetings so unbearable that Worshipful Brother McKean designed, and largely at his own expense, installed a ventilator, which, however, gave very little relief. It cost the Lodge $26.24, but it was worth that for the joshing that Brother McKean took in good nature. That was in 1888.

It is interesting to note that it was in this same mill that our beloved Brother Addison E. Bullard started. He afterwards became one of our most loyal Masons. He was made a Mason June 11, 1890, but for business reasons, never held any offices in the Lodge. He was highly respected and always very generous to the Lodge.

It is interesting to note the number of petitions that were presented as soon as the Lodge started. At most every meeting some degree was worked. It is interesting also to note that the members took their Masonry very seriously, because the black balls seemed to be very active. In the first five years there were sixty-four applications, of which thirty-seven were admitted and twenty-seven rejected.

On December 20, 1871, the Lodge voted to negotiate for another hall and to pay no more than $150.00 a year as rent. After some dickering and considerable argument, we find the first record of the Lodge moving was on September 17, 1873, and the District Deputy, at his official visitation, congratulated the Lodge upon having a new lodge-room. This was Bowen's Hall, afterwards known as G. A. R. Hall, situated on Village Street, directly opposite the New Haven R. R. Station, West Medway, with rental of $150 per year.

The records of the meeting September 30, 1874, show that four years after the starting of Charles River Lodge, Worshipful Brother Clark P. Harding paid $10.00 and was made a Master Mason. His name is mentioned because of his life-long devotion to Masonry; his proficiency in the ritual and the high esteem in which he was held in the Fraternity. He held various offices in the Lodge and later became District Deputy Grand Master. He took an active part in the welfare of Medway and was elected State Senator, as well as being Postmaster.

At the meeting February 8, 1933, the Master's Chair in the Iodge-room was dedicated as the Clark Partridge Harding Memorial Chair, in memory of Right Worshipful Brother Harding, for his deep interest in Masonry and untiring service rendered Charles River Lodge.

The Stanley House, which stood on the opposite corner of the street from Masonic Hall, where Davison's Store stands, and at one time quite a hotel, made a convenient place for banquets and refreshments, although most of the banquets were held in the hall below the lodge-room.

Special communications on April 9th and 16th, 1890, were held in Odd Fellow's Hall, on account of a fire in G.A.R. Block, which threatened destruction. The contents of the lodge-room had been removed and returned, but was not in proper shape to be occupied for a short time.

On April 25, 1899, Charles River Lodge, with officers of the Grand Lodge, attended the ceremonies of the laying of the corner stone of the new Parish House of Christ's Episcopal Church in Medway Village, known as Croswell Hall. Right Worshipful Brother Almond G. Partridge was Master of our Lodge at the time and his untiring interest and perfection in the ritual made for the success in maintaining a high standard in our Lodge.

After a reception to the Grand Officers, a procession, under the leadership of the Hopedale Brass Band of twenty-five pieces, proceeded to the Church, where the impressive ceremony was carried out. Most Worshipful Charles C. Hutchinson, Grand Master, and his Suite, officiated according to the ritual of our ancient institution. The stone had been raised several feet and was supported by a chain fastened to three poles, joined at the top. The contents of the box placed in the corner stone included several pamphlets of the Episcopal Church and of the Grand Lodge of Masons, together with a copy of the program of the ceremonies, the By-Laws of Charles River Lodge and a list of its members. A bountiful collation was afterwards served in Sanford Hall.

At the meeting May 24, 1899, a committee was appointed to confer with one from the newly organized Quineboquin Chapter, Eastern Star, with reference to using the Masonic Hall for their meetings, and it was voted at the meeting June 21st, to grant the use as requested.

By 1905, some of the younger prospective officers of Charles River Lodge, "aided and abetted" by members of the Eastern Star, commenced to rebel against the appearance of the lodge-room and the use of the low-backed, so-called, "kitchen chairs" used by the officers. The question was debated at several previous meetings until the 403rd communication August 9, 1905, when it was voted to purchase a set of new officers' chairs, to be high-backed, black walnut, upholstered with plush, and also to purchase carpet for the ante-rooms. This beautified.our lodge-rooms, and with considerable pride, the members had a meeting place equal to any in the District. The improving of the rooms was not finally completed until three years later. The cost was $713.04, of which $394.00 was contributed. In consideration of the nicer quarters, the Eastern Stars were given the privilege of increasing their rent.

As far as we know, the first Past Master's Night was held April 24, 1912, when eleven of the oldest Masters occupied the chairs and worked the Third Degree on five candidates.

At the June 18, 1913, meeting, it was voted to keep open house during the Bi-Centennial celebration of Medway and many visiting Masonic Brethren were entertained.

At our visitation November 19, 1915, Charles River Lodge was honored by having with us Most Worshipful Brother Melvin M. Johnson, Grand Master, and Right Worshipful Brother Frederick W. Hamilton, Grand Secretary, together with other officers of the Grand Lodge. At the banquet in Sanford Hall, which was packed to the doors, over 325 members and guests attended.

During the two years following, there was much agitation regarding a Masonic Home. The arguments pro and con made ~~ rather difficult for the District Deputy during his visitations to the Lodges. The cause of course has since proved itself most worthy.

At the meeting October 24, 1917, it was voted to buy Liberty Bonds, as our country was already in World War I and several of our younger members had entered the Service. Their dues were voted remitted. A Service Flag was presented to the Lodge, but unfortunately, was destroyed in the fire of February, 1918. To show there was some inconvenience during World War I, it is called to your attention the Lodge received an order from the Grand Lodge that all lights must be discontinued after ten p.m.

February 3, 1918, was a fatal night for Charles River Lodge and the town of Medway. At 3 a.m. a fire broke out in the Town Building, which was heated by thirteen stoves. This was the Grand Army Building, where Charles River Lodge was housed and which had recently been taken over by the town. It was one of the coldest nights of the year. The water froze as soon as it was put on and the building was a total loss. The furniture, including the regalia and a large frame containing pictures of all the Past Masters, was destroyed, but, fortunately, the safe went through to the basement, with the Lodge records intact. A weird sight was the Master's chair standing in open space, which had not fallen out of place. Kind offers were promptly received from the Medway Foresters, the Odd Fellows and Montgomery Lodge of Milford for the use of their quarters. The first meeting following the disaster was held in Montgomery Lodge rooms on February 5, 1918. The next meeting was held in Odd Fellows Hall, West Medway, on February 20th, and all the following meetings were held there until the new Temple was completed.

On February 23rd, a special meeting was held to confer the first and second degrees on three candidates by special dispensation of the Grand Lodge, with the third degree conferred on March 27, 1918. This incident is mentioned to recall that many of our young men were entering the Service and before going across wished to become Masons. These were serious and exciting times during World War I, and how rejoiced we were when our young men returned safely. How glad we were to tear down those great signs, "To make the world a better place to live in," "A war to prevent future wars," etc., etc. Eight of those returning veterans have passed through the chairs and are now Past Masters of Charles River Lodge. At a meeting March 27th, it was voted to buy new regalia, working tools and equipment.

The Lodge carried on more or less routine, although active, until November 11, 1925, when a largely attended public installation was held, at which Right Worshipful Brother Guy A. Ham installed the officers.

The necessity of a lodge-room of our own became more apparent as our membership increased, as well as our activities. While we appreciated the use of Odd Fellows Hall, it housed four lodges and was more or less public. At a meeting on December 9, 1925, a committee reported two plans were available— the purchase of the Medway Village Congregational Church and the unused Methodist Church, where the Temple now is located. It was voted to buy the Medway Church, although that vote was rescinded at the March meeting and the whole matter was tabled, which proved good judgment, as the Lodge eventually saved $4000 on the cost of the building. Another committee was appointed June 9,1926, to make a further study of the Methodist Church proposition.

At the meeting February 9, 1927, Charles River Lodge was honored by a visit from Most Worshipful Grand Master Frank L. Simpson and his Suite, which included the veteran Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge, Most Worshipful Frederick W. Hamilton. The Grand Master presented to five members of Charles River Lodge Masonic Veterans' Medals for fifty years continuous membership. They were Right Worshipful Clark P. Harding, Worshipful George R. Temple and Brothers George W. Bullard, James H. Webb and Charles F. Cook, who was Tyler of our Lodge for twenty-six years.

At our visitation October 24, 1928, Right Worshipful Arthur W. Coolidge, then District Deputy of the Second Masonic District, was present and gave an interesting discourse on Masonry. It will be remembered that at the last annual meeting of the Grand Lodge Grand Master Arthur W. Coolidge declined re-election and is now President of our State Senate, the office which our present Grand Master, Samuel H. Wragg, held a few years ago.

At the annual visitation September 11, 1929, Worshipful Henry C. Holbrook of Medfield was presented a fifty year Masonic Veteran's Medal.

The question of a Masonic Temple finally crystalized at the meeting of April 9, 1930, when it was voted to buy the Methodist Church property for $2000. Many of our members attended the closing services of this church on April 27, 1930. From then on, Worshipful Alden B. Cole and his efficient committee, with the Masters at that time, Worshipful Ernest Camp and Worshipful Laurence Mott, together with many others, worked untiringly for the completion of the Temple, which we are proud of and so much enjoy. Credit should also be given Brother Phillip Stapley for the fine work of decorating, and to the other workmen, practically all of whom were members of Charles River Lodge. Many gifts were made of furniture and equipment.

The Temple was dedicated on April 1,1931, by Most Worshipful Herbert W. Dean, Grand Master, and other members of the Grand Lodge. The late Right Worshipful Dr. A. Elmer Austin of Old Greenwich, Connecticut, a former Medway boy, was present and represented the Grand Lodge of Connecticut. He presented to the Lodge the beautiful altar, in memory of his father, Brother Henry C. Austin, who for many years was Secretary of Charles River Lodge.

The appreciation of Charles River Lodge is deserved by the Sandal Club, who have worked hard to reduce the debt on the Temple, so that today it is nearly free of indebtedness.

At the regular meeting January 13, 1937, a reception was tendered Right Worshipful Albert L. Saunders, who had been elected Senior Grand Warden of the Grand Lodge, and Charles River Lodge presented him a Senior Grand Warden's jewel. Present at the reception were Most Worshipful Claude L. Allen, Grand Master, and Most Worshipful Frederick W. Hamilton, Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge, with other distinguished guests. The Grand Master spoke of the fine service rendered by Right Worshipful Brother Saunders as Judge Advocate of the Grand Lodge several years, and presented him with a Henry Price Medal in appreciation.

During the 1938 hurricane, the Temple was somewhat damaged, and at the meeting October 12, 1938, an emergency appropriation was made of $250.00 for repairs.

On November 13, 1940, Charles River Lodge was honored by a visit from Right Worshipful Samuel H. Wragg, Acting Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, who we are pleased to have here this evening as the full-fledged Grand Master of the Grand Lodge.

Charles River Lodge has steadily sailed down the stream of time, with a membership today of 192. In the 808 regular meetings held, 420 men have become members of this Lodge.

We have sixteen members in World War II and we hope and pray there may be no casualties and that they will return to us soon.

Many, whom time will not permit of mention, deserve credit for the success of Charles River Lodge. As Quineboguin River, now Charles River, whence we derive our name, flows through the Towns of our jurisdiction, namely: Bellingham, Medway, Millis and Medfield, even through the Town of Needham where our Grand Master resides, as blood flows through arteries, may that spirit of true Masonry continue to flow in Charles River Lodge so that we may do our part in creating brotherly love, and proving that the tenets of our profession are what this old world needs. As Henry W. Longfellow, in his famous poem, "To the River Charles," so beautifully wrote:

"And in better hours and brighter,
When I saw thy waters gleam,
I have felt my heart beat lighter,
And leap onward with thy stream."


From Proceedings, Page 1971-172:

By Brother Francis D. Donovan.


As many of you know, Charles River Lodge, A. F. & A. M., is a daughter of Montgomery Lodge of Milford — Montgomery Lodge being established in 1797 with a charter signed by Grand Master Paul Revere — and our Lodge was instituted in 1871.

Early meetings of Montgomery Lodge were held in Medway and there might not be a Charles River Lodge had Montgomery Lodge succumbed to the vigorous anti-Masonic pressures in 1826; many Lodges simply went out of existence, but due to the dedication of Montgomery Lodge's membership, including one instance when the Charter was sewn into the lining of a Brother's coat, our mother Lodge persevered.

Charles River Lodge was the third and last to leave Montgomery Lodge — John Warren Lodge of Hopkinton being the first in 1859, followed by Mount Hollis Lodge of Holliston in 1865.

Of the twenty brethren signing the original petition for Charles River Lodge, seven were demitted from Montgomery Lodge. Of the twenty, eighteen became charter members of the Lodge.

The last meeting of Montgomery Lodge ever held in Medway was on December 1, 1852, and Montgomery Lodge removed to Milford, and of the original petitioners for our Lodge, only one member, Emery B. Cook, had been present at the 1852 meeting.

While the early years of our Lodge had their high and low points, high in the booming local industrial period, and lower when the straw and boot shops left, one of its most serious blows came in the form of a fire which destroyed the Lodge rooms in the G. A. R. block on the night of February 3, 1918 with a total loss of our clothing, insignia, furnishings and portraits of our Past Masters — but, fortunately, the records were saved. Wor. Irving Kelsey, our oldest living Past Master, was Master of the Lodge at the time of the fire, and started to rebuild from the ashes. Characteristically, he put his hands to work and made the symbol over the Master's chair along with the truncheons and stands still used in our Lodge.

In 1933 Charles River Lodge honored the memory of one of its illustrious members, Hon. Clark P. Harding, a State Senator, Postmaster and later District Deputy Grand Master, by dedicating the Master's chair as the Clark Partridge Harding Memorial Chair.

Time forbids extension of these remarks on this occasion, as time has a habit of doing, but time has been kind to Charles River Lodge in its passing, and our Lodge can look back with pride and forward with confidence with roots so well established in the high ideals of our Brotherhood.

Much more could be said, but perhaps these lines best express our thoughts as we are gathered here:

Long may our Craft be free,
And may they ever be
Great, as of yore;
For many ages past
Masonry has stood fast,
And may its glory last
Till time's no more.


"Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation, a stone, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation." (Isaiah 28:16)

My brethren, our Masonic home wherein we dwell was founded upon a rock a great number of years before our Lodge had its founding. Masonic scholars yet debate the year in which our Order had its beginnings, but for this Temple's dwellers, our years begin in an honorable time when brethren of our town first associated themselves with Freemasonry.

As early as 1797, the Charter of Montgomery Lodge was signed by Grand Master Paul Revere. The meeting place of the Lodge was at the Doctor Nathaniel Miller place at "River End", in what was then Franklin, near the Rockville section of Millis. The early meetings were held in the southeast parlor of the house which still stands by the little pond at Miller and Myrtle Streets in the present Norfolk.

At the first meeting, eighteen charter members were present from Medway, Medfield, Holliston, Franklin, Mendon, Dover, Wrentham, Bellingham and Walpole. Of those assembled, thirteen had served in the Revolution; five were Doctors; two were storekeepers; two were farmers; three were tavernkeepers; one blacksmith, one clock maker, one tool maker and a leather dresser.

If, as our precepts teach, there be toil to attend our meetings, consider the difficulty of travel by foot, by horse or wheeled conveyance for our early brethren from their distant places, particularly in winter.

It was less than a year when our early brethren directed their attention to the construction of a Temple; of several sites considered, a location in Franklin on Main Street near the common was agreed upon, and Mason's Hall was built. Later it was moved and served as a dwelling on Union Street.

In 1803 Charity Lodge of Mendon was chartered and it existed until 1836.

In 1809 the Grand Lodge authorized the transfer of the meeting place to Medway to the tavern of "Squire" Levi Adams. The building is still standing in the intersection of Village and Summer Streets in West Medway. Only one member of Montgomery Lodge before that time was a Medwayite, Wor. Abner Morse of North Medway — a man who, I might mention, must have fulfilled the duties of his office well for he was re-elected to the Chair in the East several times. At the time of the move, and at the last meeting in Franklin, two more Medway men were voted into membership: Bros. Calvin Cutler, Master of the Lodge, 1811-1812 and Elihu Cutler, Master of the Lodge, 1817-1818.

It is interesting to note the expenses of the Lodge in those early days; one year's cost of wood and candles for Lodge room use came to $4.50. And a bill presented by Bro. Adams, as Steward, is of more than passing interest — "to supply the Lodge with Refreshment, bread or crackers, cheese, rum, brandy, gin and loaf sugar, at 25¢ each person" and, I might add, it was voted agreeably, excepting that "the Tyler and first-time visitors be exempted from such payment." But then, we must remember that the Lodge room was in a Tavern.

Again, the Lodge began to think about a new meeting place — and some months were taken up on committee deliberations. It was finally decided that the building later known as Fuller's Hall in West Medway be purchased. The original building was one story high, built by the Second Congregational Church in 1816 as a Parish House, constructed from timbers of the old 1749 first meeting house. Montgomery Lodge enlarged the building by adding a second story and hip roof in 1818 and this structure is still standing, but with a plain roof — at the southeast corner of Main and Franklin Streets in West Medway, and is the present Parish House. It is interesting to note that Rising Sun Lodge, I.O.O.F., was organized in that building, and was used by that order for a number of years. The building was dedicated to Masonic usage on March 4, 1818.

On April 22 of the same year, brethren from Wrentham petitioned for a new Lodge, and with the blessing of Montgomery Lodge, this assemblage became Saint Alban's Lodge, now of Foxboro.

It was not until 1821 that lamps were used in the Lodge rooms instead of candles.

In 1823 a charter was granted to Cassia Lodge in Medfield.

Mount Lebanon Chapter, Royal Arch Masons was instituted on January 24, 1825 in the "Parish House" Masonic Hall. Although a record of charter members of Mount Lebanon Chapter is still available, it appears that it existed in name only after about four years' existence, for in 1829 Montgomery Lodge purchased its title and furniture. The Chapter was carried on the rolls of the Grand Chapter until 1842 at which time its charter was forfeited. The charter was restored in 1855 in Milford.

To return to our chronology; in 1826 one William Morgan attracted attention, when, after publishing a pretended "Exposition of Masonry", his disappearance brought havoc upon our Order by those who, through ignorance or bias, despised our tenets. Whatever the events — and the details to this day are not clear, they occasioned, in the words of Wor. William Ollendorff, "a cold anti-Masonic wind" which "swept over the entire country and many Lodges succumbed."

Our Mother Lodge, Montgomery, did not succumb, but it was only through the total dedication and courageous efforts of her officers that the Charter survived. At one point, the dangers to practice by the Gentle Craft in our town required extreme measures for preservation of the Charter; that was when Bro. Nathan Burr sewed the Charter in the lining of his coat and carried it about on his person; later, he buried the Charter and records of Montgomery Lodge in his hayfield. It was not until 1831 that the excitement calmed as a result of a public letter published and signed by over 6,000 Masons; many of the signers commanded so high public respect that belief was accorded the truth in their statements by the populace.

Until 1837 Montgomery Lodge's meetings were held irregularly, and only the annual meeting was held on schedule; the Lodge was transferred to Hathon's Tavern in Medway Village, the present site of a drug store, beauty parlor and professional offices in the building standing at the northwest corner of Village and Broad Streets. The tavern was moved to Peach and North Streets and is now a dwelling. Its site was taken by the Quino-Dequin Hotel, and after it burned, the Gladstone Hotel — later the New Medway Hotel was built, the building referred to above.

In 1842, interest in our order revived sufficiently to attract the attention of candidates, and in that year four applications were received.

Between 1845 and 1852 various places in Medway were occupied by Montgomery Lodge and on December 23, 1852 the first meeting of the Lodge was held in the old Town House in Milford.

The communication in Medway, held on December 1, 1852, was the last in this town until Charles River Lodge was organized. Between those years Montgomery Lodge continued to practice the Craft, and dedication of the new hall in the Music Hall Block in Milford took place on January 10, 1860 with H. B. Staples, Worshipful Master. Annual dues, by the way, were $1.00 per member.


"He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation upon a rock; and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it; for it was founded upon a rock." (Luke 6:48)

Charles River Lodge had its beginning when Lewis Fales, Secretary of Montgomery Lodge, made this entry in his records: "February 10, 1870 — Regular communication. Voted to recommend the petition of Bro. Alfred Ashton and others for a Lodge to be located in West Medway."

This was the result of a petition presented by twenty brethren for a dispensation "to improve themselves in Masonry", an action probably occasioned by the difficulty of traveling to Milford.

Medway, in 1870, was a thriving industrial town; only a few years previous, the railroad was built through and over its rails went the cases of boots, cotton cloth, thread, furniture and straw products. While the Civil War had passed into history, its aftermath had not; of our 3600 population, 52 men had died away from home. In 1870 there were 93 births, 32 marriages and 52 deaths in Medway. Fifty-four buildings were enlarged or erected, and the old "Convent" straw shop on Pine Street, a former meeting place of Montgomery Lodge burned to the ground.

Twenty brethren signed the original petition for Charles River Lodge. Of the twenty, seven were demitted from Montgomery Lodge, thus thirteen were Masons elsewhere. When the Charter was presented, it contained two new names demitted from Montgomery Lodge. Three others who were present at the first meeting evidently changed their minds, for they do not appear on the Charter list, one of whom was a member of Montgomery Lodge.

As nearly as can be determined at this writing, these are the petitioners — and later, charter members of Charles River Lodge, A.F. & A.M.: Alfred Ashton, Alfred A. Cary, Leander S. Daniels, Albert W. Mann, Emery B. Cook, Marcellus A. Woodward, James W. Seavey, Frederick J. Bemis, Lewis W. Hill, Benjamin F. Newton, George D. Rockwood, Edwin Fairbanks, Charles H. Perry, Granville E. McCallum, Joseph N. Tourtellotte, Joseph L. Bullard and Cornelius H. Cutler.

As we have noted above, the last meeting of Montgomery Lodge held in Medway took place on December 1, 1852 and the Lodge moved to Milford. Of the petitioners for Charles River Lodge, only Emery B. Cook was present at that 1852 meeting. Joseph Bullard was another link between the old days of the Medway meetings. He was made a Master Mason in the old "Straw Shop Lodge" on March 14, 1849. He demitted from Montgomery Lodge in 1871.

Upon approval by Montgomery Lodge, dispensation for Charles River Lodge was granted on March 9, 1870. The document was signed by Most Worshipful Grand Master, William Sewall Gardner, and Solon Thompson, Recording Secretary. Wor. Ezra F. Holbrook was Master of Montgomery Lodge at the time of dispensation. To Ezra Holbrook goes much of the credit for helping our Lodge over the difficulties of starting on its voyage.

Charles River Lodge was the third and last to leave Montgomery Lodge; John Warren Lodge of Hopkinton was the first in 1859 and Mount Hollis Lodge of Holliston being the second in 1865.

Charles River Lodge operated under dispensation from March 10, 1870 to March 8, 1871 and our first two candidates were raised on September 21, 1870. They were Bros. Daniel Woodman, a bootmaker and William McKean of Caryville. Brother Woodman was a member of the G. A. R., became a Representative to the General Court and was for many years Postmaster at West Medway. Bro. McKean was a partner in the firm of Taft, McKean & Co. at Caryville. He was Master of Charles River Lodge from 1873-1875.

On April 11, 1871 a Special Communication of the Grand Lodge was held in Mechanics Hall — now standing at the southeast corner of the intersection of Main and Cottage Streets in West Medway — for the purpose of constituting the Lodge and installing the officers.

This was a memorable night for our Lodge, not only for the event itself, but for the brotherly love extended by the Grand Lodge and Montgomery Lodge of Milford.

Our Milford Brethren, on this auspicious occasion, provided as Grand Master, Rt. Wor. George E. Stacy. Brother Stacy was well known for his perfection in ritual; he was a faithful member of his Lodge, and in recalling him in his erect stature and flowing white beard, we honor him as our first District Deputy Grand Master. He was the 30th Master of Montgomery Lodge, a town official in Milford, and a successful businessman in the trade of printing and publishing to the end of his days. In his Masonic life he was, in addition to being Master of his Lodge, High Priest and later Eminent Commander of the Commandery.

At the organizational meeting on April 11, 1871, the following officers were chosen and installed:

Alfred Ashton, Worshipful Master, James M. Seavey, Senior Warden, Alfred A. Cary, Junior Warden, Leander S. Daniels, Treasurer, Albert W. Mann, Secretary, Frederick J. Bemis, Senior Deacon, Emery B. Cook, Junior Deacon, Lewis W. Hill, Senior Steward, Marcellus A. Woodward, Junior Steward, George D. Rockwood, Marshal, Valentine R. Coombs, Chaplain, Edwin Fairbanks, Sentinel.

Our Lodge flourished from this beginning; in the two years that it occupied Mechanics Hall, a number of petitions for admission were accepted.

In 1873 our Lodge moved into new and more commodious quarters in the G. A. R. building located on the northeast corner of Village Street and Norfolk Avenue in West Medway, opposite the West Medway depot. The building, then known as Bowne's Block, also housed the Town offices. Just across Norfolk Avenue was the Stanley House, a hostelry noted not only for its eccentric proprietor, but also, among Masons of the time, for the collations prepared therein and carried across the street when our earlier brethren were called from labor to refreshment.

Banquets were occasionally held in the Stanley House, but most often were held in the hall below the Lodge room, much the same as we do today. The rental of the Lodge room was $150.00 per year.

In 1874 Brother Clark P. Harding was raised to the Sublime Degree in the Lodge and went on to become one of our most noted members. He occupied the Chair in the East from 1880 to 1883 and, if we may employ the phrase, became a "landmark" in his ritual work and knowledge of the tenets of our Fraternity. He later became District Deputy Grand Master, was a competent State Senator, and was Postmaster at Medway. In 1933 our Lodge honored his memory by dedicating the Master's Chair as Clark Partridge Harding Memorial Chair.

We cannot proceed further in the 1880's without mention of one of our early members, Granville McCallum. Brother McCallum, a Scotsman, loved music and in the very old age which he achieved, asked that a brass band accompany his remains to the cemetery. Upon his request, the Lodge members consulted among themselves and when, on June 10, 1888, Brother McCallum was carried to his resting place, he was accompanied by not only the West Medway brass band, but also by the largest local assemblage of Masons ever to follow a funeral cortege. All proper attention was paid by the officers and members of our Lodge to our government, thus it is important to note that on September 10, 1890, the follow-by-law was adopted:

Article I, Section 1. The Regular Communications shall be held (on) Wednesday, on or before the full of the moon every month at 7:30 P.M., but "regular communications could be omitted during June, July, and August by vote."

It was in 1890, too, that a fire in the G. A. R. Block necessitated the removal of our records, regalia, and effects; instantly, the I.O.O.F. offered the use of rooms in their hall still standing at Lincoln and Main Streets in West Medway. Our Lodge gratefully accepted and before long we were able to re-occupy the Lodge rooms in the G. A. R. Hall.

Just before the turn of the Century, the officers and members of Charles River Lodge, and the officers of the Grand Lodge assisted in the ceremonies in the laying of the cornerstone of the Parish House of Christ Episcopal Church in Medway Village. Rt. Wor. Almond Partridge conducted the ritual and his perfection in the work was noted then and long remembered. His son, Evan, later became Master of our Lodge in 1905-1907. A box containing Episcopal Church and Grand Lodge papers was placed in the cornerstone and sealed therein.

In June of 1899 the Lodge voted to grant the use of the Masonic Hall for the use of the newly organized Quinobequin Chapter, O. E. S.


"And as he went out of the Temple, one of his disciples said unto him, Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here." (Saint Mark 13:1)

It is 1900; there sit in the Lodge still, several of the founding members. No doubt during the meeting, more than one mind's fancy went back to the days of 1871 when Charles River Lodge had its beginning. Outside, an occasional street car rumbled by on Village Street. During the evening, several trains in either direction clattered past West Medway depot on the old "Air Line" Woonsocket Division. Dimly heard outside, too, were the sounds of horses and wagons. Illumination was by kerosene lamps in the Lodge; although electric lights were used to brighten our streets, few buildings were wired or equipped for them. Much was the same in ritual and regalia, but much had changed in the busy world outside of the Lodge.

The officers chosen to start our Lodge on a new century were installed on November 1, 1899 by Rt. Wor. Clark P. Harding, Past District Deputy Grand Master, assisted by Wor. Bro. George Harding, acting as Marshal. The new officers were: Charles R. Griffin, Master, Warren E. Fairbanks, Senior Warden, Addison E. Bullard, Junior Warden, Charles D. Harrington, Secretary, George E. Pond, Treasurer, Wor. Almond G. Partridge, Chaplain, Charles C. Lawrence, Marshal, Herbert W. Shaw, Senior Deacon, Charles S. Mann, Junior Deacon. George S. Ryan, Senior Steward, Joel E. Partridge, Junior Steward, Stephen Metcalf, Inside Sentinel, Wor. Sylvester A. Greenwood, Organist, Charles F. Cook, Tyler.

The membership of the Lodge had changed, not just in numbers, but in the attitude of the newly raised Masons. Several of these, by then prospective officers of the Lodge, rebelled, "aided and abetted" by members of the O.E.S. against the "plain, probably decrepit, and definitely uncomfortable furnishing" of the hall. Their efforts resulted in the first major expenditure by the Lodge for a new set of high backed black walnut upholstered officers' chairs, and carpeting for the anterooms. The cost was slightly over $700.

Over the years a warm friendship continued between our Town and Lodge and Montgomery Lodge. In 1903 an important event in that connection took place, best explained by this letter written November 18th of that year:


To the Worshipful Master, Officers and Members of Montgomery Lodge, A. F. and A. M., Milford, Massachusetts Gentlemen: From February 1st, 1809 to December 1st, 1852 your lodge found its abiding place within the limits of the town of Medway.

Upon removing to Milford a portion of your furniture was left at the house of William White, in and near to which were held many meetings. Here was found your original ballot box. It was finally taken in charge by William Cary, a later tenant, and by him presented to this society and placed among our archives. So far as we are able to determine from all sources, both historic and legendary, this box was in use from 1809, or very shortly thereafter, up to the removal of your lodge from our town.

We now present to you that which was once your own. We part with it reluctantly as it is historically valuable, yet we do so feeling that the old home is its best final resting place, and we trust you will do us the honor to receive it with as much pleasure as we now take in its presentation.

With kindest regards,
By Albert H. Wheelock, President Rufus G. Fairbanks, Secretary Orion T. Mason, Curator
its Committee.

On April 24, 1912, the first Past Masters night was held and 11 of the oldest Masters occupied the Chairs and worked the Third Degree on 5 candidates.

Wor. W. W. Ollendorff, Master at that time, was another outstanding member of our Lodge. He was a member of the Governor's Council, an elected Representative from this District, and was also District Deputy Grand Master 1914-1915.

On February 3, 1918 our Lodge suffered a great loss when fire destroyed the G. A. R. block. The Lodge rooms were totally destroyed, along with the furniture, regalia, the large framed portraits of Past Masters, and the original charter. The records were saved, as they were in a safe which crashed through two floors to the cellar. Quarters were immediately offered by the Medway Catholic Order of Foresters, the I. O. O. F. and Montgomery Lodge.

Our Lodge had just spent over $1,200 for furnishings and carpeting for the rooms.

Wor. W. Irving Kelsey was Master of our Lodge at that time. He is now our oldest living Past Master. After surveying the damage he established temporary Lodge rooms at I. O. O. F. Hall, West Medway.

In March it was voted to re-equip the Lodge with new regalia, working tools and equipment. The Symbol above the Master's Chair was designed by Herbert Mann, and was cut out of wood by Wor. Irving Kelsey; he also made the Warden's truncheons and stands from mahogany to replace those lost in the fire.

A committee was appointed to look into the possibilities of a new meeting place for our Lodge, but it was not until 1925 that they presented their first recommendation, and that was to purchase either the Village Congregational Church in Medway or the Methodist Church on Cottage Street in West Medway. A vote to purchase the Village Church was passed, but was rescinded shortly thereafter. In 1926 another Committee was appointed to further study the Methodist Church possibility. On February 9, 1927, Charles River Lodge was honored by a visitation by Most Worshipful Frank Simpson, Grand Master, and his Suite, which included the Veteran Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge, Most Worshipful Frederick W. Hamilton. Five members of Charles River Lodge were presented 50-year Masonic Veterans' medals; recipients were: Rt. Wor. Clark P. Harding, Wor. George R. Temple, Brothers George W. Bullard, James H. Webb and Charles F. Cook, who was Tyler of our Lodge for twenty-six years. In 1929 Henry C. Holbrook of Medfield received his 50-year Medal.

As we have noted, the location of a new meeting place occupied the attention not only of the Committee appointed, but also that of the Lodge brethren for some years. In 1926 a Committee had been appointed to further investigate the acquisition of the Methodist Church property on Cottage Street for Masonic use.

During the meeting of April 9, 1930, the members voted to purchase the Methodist Church property for the sum of $2,000. As of the vote of acquisition, Wor. Alden Cole, Wor. Ernest Camp and Wor. Lawrence Mott (Master of the Lodge at that time), perfected the Temple in which we meet today.

It must be fairly noted that these Brethren undertook a monumental task; it was the time of the "Great Depression", and while hands to be put to the labors were available, money was not. A time of trial indeed — and perhaps the harbinger of events then undreamed was the arrival in the United States of Albert Einstein in 1933. The members of our Lodge could not know that ahead lay war with its attendant death and destruction — but had they known, they would have labored just as steadfastly.

The Ceremony of Dedication took place on October 15, 1930, under the direction of Most Worshipful Grand Master, Herbert W. Dean, assisted by a Suite of Officers from the Grand Lodge. (1930 Mass. 383-386) Connecticut Grand Lodge was represented by Rt. Wor. Dr. A. Elmer Austin of Old Greenwich, and he presented the altar to our Lodge, in memory of his father, Henry Austin, former Lodge Secretary. Ten Past Masters of Charles River Lodge were present, and the dedication program was in charge of Wor. A. B. Cole, Wor. Samuel Baader and Bro. Walter Bicknell.

Bro. Philip Stapley, a member of the Lodge had arranged for a decorative scheme with carpets and hangings in mulberry and blue, gold and bronze paneling, woodwork finished in old ivory, and the organ finished in ivory and gold.

I might mention that a Club, then as now, worked long and diligently to reduce the Lodge's indebtedness; in those days it was the Sandal Club. Now we know this dedication as embodied in our Acacia Club.

The name of Rt. Wor. Albert L. Saunders is favorably known to the citizens of Medway and surrounding towns. Perhaps some know him best as Judge Saunders. Our brethren know him as an outstanding Mason, and, properly enough, he was presented a Senior Grand Warden's Jewel of the Grand Lodge on January 13, 1937. On this occasion the Most Wor. Claude Allen, Grand Master and Most Wor. Frederick W. Hamilton, Grand Secretary, paid tribute to our Brother and gave testimony to the perfect performance of his duty as Judge Advocate of the Grand Lodge, and presented him the Henry Price Medal in appreciation of his services.

In 1938 the hurricane which caused such havoc in New England spared our Temple extensive damage; about $250. was expended "for repairs". Not so, however, for other parts of Medway; the Baptist Church which stood on the north east corner of Winthrop and Main Streets was damaged beyond repair. The Congregational Churches at Medway and West Med-way were severely damaged, and I can only quote Wor. Bro. William Ollendorff, Past Master of our Lodge (1910-1912) who, when I talked with him about this very subject, said, "Well, Francis, the Lodge runs due East and West — and the storm did come from the West."

During the War Years many of our Brethren served the cause in the perfect exemplification of their tenets, under which, in their own free will and accord, took the decisive step according to their teaching. We are the richer for that which they had learned.

Thus we record our 100 years of Fraternity — the tears and triumphs — and our feelings are perhaps best expressed by Bro. and Rev. Webster Woodbury when he said on September 16, 1897 at Montgomery Lodge's Centennial Celebration. "Where'er I roam, whatever realms I see, My heart untravelled fondly turns to thee."




1870: District 12 (Milford)

1883: District 20 (Milford)

1911: District 22 (Blackstone)

1927: District 22 (Milford)

1931: District 23 (Natick)

2003: District 15

2009: District 15 South


Massachusetts Lodges