Excelsior

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EXCELSIOR LODGE

Location: Franklin; North Attleboro (2009); Medway (2012)

Chartered By: Charles C. Dame

Charter Date: 03/13/1867 VII-154

Precedence Date: 03/15/1866

Current Status: Active


PAST MASTERS

  • Salmon P. Squire, 1866-1868
  • Timothy J. Senter, 1869
  • F. A. B. King, 1869
  • Harry W. Carson, 1870-1872
  • Henry R. Jenks, 1873,1874
  • John T. Stetson, 1875
  • George W. Wiggin, 1876-1878; SN
  • Joseph H. Partridge, 1879, 1880
  • Daniel O. Corbin, 1881
  • Elisha P. Chapman, 1882-1884
  • Joseph L. Metcalf, 1885
  • Oliver H. Ingalls, 1886
  • Frank W. Vaughn, 1887
  • William A. Wyckoff, 1888, 1889
  • W. C. Selleck, 1890
  • A. F. McLean, 1890-1891
  • Fred P. Chapman, 1892
  • Elbrridge J. Whitaker, 1893
  • Albert Farrington, 1894, 1895
  • Charles Stewart, 1896
  • Joseph P. Bassett, 1897, 1898
  • George R. Winsor, 1899-1900; N
  • Solon Abbott, 1901, 1902
  • John E. Barber, 1903; SN
  • Herbert W. Thayer, 1904, 1905
  • William S. Johnson, 1906; Mem
  • Marston Sanborn, 1907, 1908
  • Albert H. Martin, 1909, 1910; Mem
  • Albert H. Mann, 1911
  • Charles B. Hussey, 1912, 1913
  • L. Harold Pendleton, 1914
  • Oliver J. Goodspeed, 1915, 1916
  • David W. Mann, 1917
  • Boyd P. Chapman, 1918, 1919
  • Carl H. Carlson, 1920; SN
  • Ernest A. Hall, 1921
  • A. Herbert Pendleton, 1922
  • Henry M. Walker, 1923
  • George H. Spicer, 1924
  • Leslie W. M. Smith, 1925
  • Arthur E. Rockwood, 1926
  • Arthur W. Hale, 1927
  • M. Luther Buchanan, 1928
  • Donald B. Chapman, 1929
  • George W. Richard, 1930
  • Robert H. Doe, 1931
  • William W. Jordan, 1932
  • Leroy B. Williard, 1933
  • Sidney Carpenter, 1934
  • Alexander C. Ewen, 1935
  • Ralph E. Peterson, 1936
  • Basil M. Parsons, 1937, 1938
  • Adam Mackintosh, 1939
  • Albert B. Barnes, 1940
  • George W. Dana, 1941
  • Charles A. DeMerritt, 1942
  • Charles B. Hobbs, 1943
  • Harold W. Eastman, 1944; SN
  • Douglas E. Bennett, 1945
  • Richard E. Canning, 1946
  • Robert Bell, 1947
  • Walter E. Morse, 1948
  • C. Russell Draheim, 1949
  • Grant F. Longley, 1950
  • George A. Carr, 1951
  • Alton K. Shaw, 1952
  • Arthur D. Fraser, 1953
  • Harris E. Loring, Jr., 1954
  • Donald S. Mackintosh, 1955
  • Chester W. Hobbs, 1956
  • Walter A. Sanderson, 1957
  • John P. Gelschecker, 1958
  • Nelson P. Hill, 1959
  • Donald F. Patten, 1960
  • Daniel E. Cotter, 1961
  • Edward R. Kussmaul, 1962; N
  • Richard W. Enegren, 1963
  • Wayne F. Hoyle, 1964; N
  • William W. Reed, 1965
  • Douglas L. Saunders, 1966
  • Leland F. Ross, Jr., 1967; DDGM
  • Hubbard D. Sweet, 1968
  • George M. Redding, 1969
  • Harvey E. Baskin, 1970
  • Alan H. Woodrow, 1971, 1981, 2003
  • George D. Thompson, 1972
  • Leslie C. Burns, 1973
  • Paul E. Slaney, 1974
  • Robert N. Cunmore, 1975
  • William A. MacKenzie, 1976
  • Carlton W. Burns, 1977
  • Stephen C. Miller, 1978
  • Bernard V. Yurt, 1979, 1980
  • Richard W. Enegren, Jr., 1982, 1992, 1993
  • Lawrence J. Molle, 1983
  • Chester S. Drake, 1984, 1985
  • Charles E. Prescott, 1986, 1987
  • William J. Page, 1988
  • Richard K. Harper, 1989
  • Gregory J. Davis, 1990
  • Nicholas J. Julian, Jr., 1991
  • Joseph N. Deptula, Jr., 1994, 1995
  • Egidio Ferrara, 1996, 1997
  • John J. Kerns, 1998, 1999
  • Jamie Miller, 2000-2002
  • Francis J. Cummings, Jr., 2004
  • Richard M. Adams, 2005
  • Stephen C. Miller, 2006, 2007
  • Henri O. Masson, 2008
  • Paul E. Slaney, Jr., 2009
  • John J. Barrett, III, 2010, 2011
  • Jason M. Carrozza, 2012

REFERENCES IN GRAND LODGE PROCEEDINGS

  • Petition for Dispensation: 1866
  • Petition for Charter: 1867

ANNIVERSARIES

  • 1941 (75th Anniversary)
  • 1966 (Centenary)

VISITS BY GRAND MASTER

BY-LAW CHANGES

1873 1876 1882 1900 1901 1907 1920 1924 1927 1937 1938 1945 1948 1949 1955 1956 1961 1976 1982 2007

HISTORY

  • 1941 (75th Anniversary History, 1941-107; see below)
  • 1966 (Centenary History, 1966-65; see below)

75TH ANNIVERSARY HISTORY, MAY 1941

From Proceedings, Page 1941-107:

By Right Worshipful Carl H. Carlson.

It may seem rather unusual for one to start writing the history of a Lodge by referring first to the history of another Lodge, but as Masonic influences existed in the town of Franklin for at least some seventy years prior to the organization of Excelsior Lodge, it appears fitting and proper to make such reference on this occasion.

Montgomery Lodge, now located in Milford, held its first meeting July 10, 1797, in the home of Dr. Nathaniel Miller, situated at what was called "River End," in Franklin, and it continued to meet there until April, 1798. The Lodge next met on May 2, 1798, at Oliver Pond's Tavern, which stood near the little Red Brick School in Franklin, and it continued to meet there until February 20, 1799. On April 10 following, it moved to Mason's Hall, a building especially erected for its use near the southeasterly corner of the Franklin Common, and there the Lodge remained until December 7, 1808. Montgomery Lodge then moved to Medway, later to West Medway and finally to Milford.

It is interesting to note that although Montgomery Lodge was organized and occupied three different meeting places in Franklin within the years 1797 to 1808, the men who petitioned the Grand Lodge for a Charter for Excelsior Lodge were not members of Montgomery Lodge, and no Charter Member of Excelsior Lodge had any previous connection with that Lodge.

The information which herein follows is largely chronological in arrangement and is presented as a hastily drawn sketch of some of the high-lights gathered from the records of the Lodge.

There were eight original petitioners to the Grand Lodge for a Charter to organize a Lodge in Franklin under the name of Excelsior Lodge, and the Grand Master issued a Dispensation to them March 15, 1866. These men were Horatio Stockbridge, Rev. Ezra D. Winslow, Dr. William B. Nolen, Rev. Salmon W. Squire, John A. Davis, Robert H. Bruce, and William Young. The Dispensation being granted, the first meeting of the Lodge was held Monday, March 26, 1866, in the office of Horatio Stockbridge, now supposed to have been located on Main Street, about opposite Dean Avenue. Rev. Salmon W. Squire was elected Worshipful Master, Rev. Ezra D. Winslow, Senior Warden, and Dr. William B. Nolen, Junior Warden. The Lodge was opened on the Third Degree, and Worshipful Squire appointed the following additional officers:

  • Robert Bruce, Secretary
  • James H. Shaw, Treasurer
  • Horatio Stockbridge, Senior Deacon
  • William Young, Junior Deacon
  • John Davis, Tyler

Two subsequent meetings were held in the office of Brother Horatio Stockbridge, and at a special communication April 4, 1866, it was voted to lease a hall from Mr. A. A. Russeque at a yearly rental charge of $125.00. This hall consisted of a large room on the second floor of the building now occupied by "Peck's Store," located near the railroad bridge, and the first meeting of the Lodge in the new quarters was held April 23, 1866. Here the Lodge remained until 1872. On February 18, 1867, a code of By-Laws was adopted. The Lodge was Consti
tuted and the hall dedicated by Most Worshipful Grand Master
 Charles C. Dame on March 18, 1867.

Regular and special meetings were held very frequently in the early days, and many applicants were elected to receive the degrees. The fee for the degrees.in 1866 was $35.00, and now, after a period of seventy-five years, the fee is $50.00, not a great increase considering the difference in cost of living. We find in the early records that dues were $3.00 per year, as compared with $7.00 today. But think of the vast difference in Lodge space and facilities of former times, compared with what we have today! Surely no member of Excelsior Lodge has any complaint about present day dues when making this comparison.

The first official visit of a District Deputy Grand Master was on July 23, 1866, when the Lodge received Right Worshipful Henry C. Skinner. The records show that on August 30, 1866, twenty-two members of Bristol Lodge, North Attleboro, and ten members of St. Alban's Lodge, Foxboro, visited in Franklin. This friendly spirit still exists in a splendid way, for Excelsior Lodge has the pleasure of frequent visits of many Brethren from these two neighbor Lodges.

Let us not forget that we are recalling the so-called "horse and buggy" days. Think of those twenty-two Brethren driving up from North Attleboro and the ten others from Foxboro. Not very far, to be sure, but the time consumed in making the round trip was at least three or four times greater than that required today.

The first code of By-Laws had two interesting clauses which our members today will enjoy reading:

  • Section 2, Article 8. "No Brother shall be allowed to speak more than twice on the same subject except by permission of the Master or for explanation.
  • Section 3, Article 8. "No Brother shall disturb another while speaking unless to call him to order for words spoken and he shall remain silent until the Master has decided a point of order."

Again, it is interesting to note that Excelsior Lodge was invited to attend the ceremonies of laying the corner-stone of the first Dean Academy building on May 16, 1867. This invitation was accepted and a special communication was held at 9 a.m. on that date. A procession was formed and the members marched to the grounds at 10:30 a.m., returning at 4 p.m. This must have been a red-letter day in the early life of the Lodge, and we presume that the attending Masons were well fed at Dean, although no mention is made of being "called from labor to refreshment." That the ladies were interested is shown by the fact that they presented a new Bible to the Lodge Oct. 10, 1867, the presentation being followed by a collation. The Order of the Eastern Star was not then in existence in Franklin but the spirit of the ladies was then the same as today.

As far back as December 9, 1867, the Lodge voted to the Grand Lodge a per capita tax of $1.00 per member. On November 13, 1868, the Lodge held its first special communication to attend a funeral, the deceased Brother being George W. Nason, a Charter Member.

In those early days Masonic trials were held in the apartments of local Lodges, and two or three trials were held in Franklin, the records of which being rather amusing to read. It was customary for the Master to call a special communication whenever charges were brought against a Brother, and the District Deputy presided at the trials. The testimony and verdict were submitted to Grand Lodge for confirmation. No doubt our Brethren were pretty "sot" in those days, and open debate constituted a certain form of entertainment. In any event, we are surprised to note that one Master preferred charges against a former presiding Master. However, at a special communication, the charges were withdrawn, "after some very acceptable remarks." We can read between the lines that a difference of opinion resulted in an old-time heated argument, indicative of the way our Brethren took various matters seventy years or more ago.

Another trial, recorded in 1869, took up much time and considerable space in the records. It concerned charges brought by a new Minister who had come to Franklin and who was a Mason.

Handled in a regular legal and court fashion, it concerned the details of the lease of a certain house and the purchase of certain goods in the house at the time the Reverend Brother took over. At the conclusion of the testimony of the Reverend Brother, die accused member gave his version of the affair, and wound up It saying that he had previously done business with two other Ministers and both had cheated him, but he was found guilty on two of three counts and not guilty on the other. The extensive testimony and other papers were referred to Grand Lodge, which refused to confirm the verdict, and the Brother remained at good standing for three years, when a dimit was granted.

No further record of un-Masonic conduct appears in our accords until September, 1877, when two Brothers were in disagreement, and a committee was appointed to investigate the charges. The committee subsequently reported that the matter had been settled amicably, the Brothers shaking hands." Report was accepted. For those who have seen the Masonic play entitled A Rose upon the Altar, it is easy to picture the "good old days" in Excelsior Lodge.

The Lodge having been organized shortly after the close of die Civil War, the old records make no reference to that conflict, except that in 1869, it was voted to rent the hall, "with lamp fixtures," to the Grand Army of the Republic for their in-monthly meetings for the sum of $75.00 per year.

At about 1869, the Lodge appears to have made several efforts to secure other quarters, even to the extent of erecting a building for that purpose, and a committee was appointed to select a site and to ascertain how much money could be raised. On March 25, 1871, three Trustees were appointed to handle details of a proposed new building to be erected on the so-called "Ruggles Lot," to disburse the money and to do anything accessary therewith. At this time Mr. Joseph G. Ray was admitted a member, and he became an important influence in the welfare of the Lodge, for it was largely through his interest and cooperation that a Masonic Hall was provided in the Ray Block under construction. The records state that Brother King was appointed to see that the dining hall connected therewith be partitioned off so as to have the "Cook Room" separate from the main room. Most of us remember this "Cook Room" in our former quarters, but we called it the "Kitchen."

On December 5, 1871, a committee was appointed to secure a lease of the quarters in the new Ray Block, and to have full charge of fitting up the same. They were instructed not to spend "over $1200 in furnishing and fitting up the Hall." Again it appears that the ladies were interested, and took steps to raise money for the project. But when a motion was made in open Lodge that the ladies be requested to turn over the money, which it was understood was for "Masonic purposes," the Secretary reported at the next communication of the Lodge that the ladies had informed the committee that this was their money and they proposed to see that it was definitely spent for a stove. The Secretary carefully underlined the word "their" in his records with a long black mark. Apparently the ladies of 1871 were as spirited as we might expect them to be in these latter days.

In January 1872, the committee on furnishing the new hall reported an estimate of $840.00, and on March 18 the committee further reported that Brother Joseph G. Ray was ready at any time to give a lease to the hall at $200.00 yearly rental. It was voted to take over the quarters March 31, 1872. This was the hall which Excelsior Lodge occupied until 1938 — sixty-six years. Masonic Hall in the Ray Block was dedicated June 27, 1872. Right Worshipful George W. Stacy, District Deputy Grand Master, presided and installed the new officers.

Shortly after the hall was first occupied, the wife of a prominent member requested the use of it for the celebration of their 30th wedding anniversary. The proposal was so debatable that two regular communications and one special communication were required to determine an answer. At the first meeting it was voted to give the lady the free use of the hall; and then it was voted that the price should be left with the first three officers; and then again it was voted to re-consider, whereupon the lady's proposal was withdrawn. At the second meeting a new proposal from the lady was not entertained by the Master, but a special communication was ordered for its further consideration. At the special communication, after a rather hectic rime, it was voted 15 to 13 that the lady could have the use of the hall at a price to be determined by the first three officers. And here ended the record of the lady's proposal.

An interesting record, as of December 20, 1873, states that Grand Lodge issued a Special Dispensation for Excelsior Lodge to hold regular meetings on the first Mondays of January, February and April, 1874, regardless of the fact that these meetings would not be held "on or before the full of the moon as provided in the By-Laws."

In May, 1876, amendments to the By-Laws were adopted to exclude the office of "Inside Sentinel" and to designate a stated meeting night without reference to "full of the moon." Our old-time Brethren got away from the "full of the moon" many years sooner than some Lodges where this subject is still discussed.

Reports presented at the annual meeting in March, 1873, show that the Lodge was in debt to the extent of $350.58. At the January 5, 1874, annual meeting the debt had been reduced to $282.51, and at the next annual meeting it was down to $69.11. A year later, January, 1876, it was further reduced by twelve cents.

At the annual meeting in January, 1878, the Lodge showed a cash balance of $11.70 with all bills paid, and on January 3, 1881, the Lodge was "out of the red" by a fairly safe margin, having a balance of $101.32.

At the annual meeting on October 7, 1882, Elisha P. Chapman became Worshipful Master. Through his influence it was voted that $100 be placed in the hands of the Trustees for investment, and this proved to be the beginning of a fund which subsequently enabled the Lodge to purchase the Temple in which we are now assembled.

Relief was by no means neglected by the members of Excelsior Lodge sixty or seventy years ago, for we often find reference to a Relief Committee in our records, and we note that on May 5, 1879, the Lodge was presented with a "Sick Chair" to be used by the Relief Committee.

Of historical interest is the record of a special communication held on September 26, 1881, for the purpose of attending memorial services in the Congregational Church of Franklin for our late Brother, James A. Garfield, honored President of the United States. The Lodge-room was draped in mourning for a period of three months.

The first mention of railroad travel is on November 7, 1881, when a motion was passed thanking the N.Y. & N.E. R.R. Co. for the favor of a special free train to Norwood to attend funeral services of Brother Eldon B. Pratt.

At this point we must make note of the fact that Brother Thomas Spence was appointed Tyler of Excelsior Lodge in 1885 and served continuously in that capacity until October, 1921 — thirty-six years of faithful service — and on February 22, 1925, he was presented a Henry Price Medal in recognition of fifty years of continuous membership.

Excelsior Lodge never failed to assist in some way in national emergencies. On September 6, 1886, the Lodge passed a Resolution of Sympathy on account of the "great destruction of life and property in Charlestown, S. C, by earthquake" which occurred on August 31 and voted to send $25.00 to the Craft in Charleston.

Our Brethren in the early days were not so much concerned about the lateness of the hour as some are today, for we note that on April 18,1887, a special communication was the occasion of a fraternal visit of Brethren from Orient Lodge in Norwood. The records read: "the Lodge closed without form at 11 o'clock and repaired to the banqueting hall where we spent the time refreshing the inner man and enjoying songs, recitations, and words of cheer until 12:40 a.m. when with singing "AuldLang Syne" the party broke up full of gratitude to our visiting Brethren a.m. their fraternal and social visit." Be sure to note that they were full of gratitude only!

Although we are lacking any clear details, Excelsior Lodge appears to have celebrated its Twenty-fifth Anniversary on June 1, 1891, as the records show that an orchestra and quartet were present that evening.

We note further that in 1894 it was voted to rent the Masonic Hall to Fern Chapter, O.E.S., No. 46, which was then being organized.

A special communication of the Lodge was held on May 2, IS95, to attend the funeral services of our first Worshipful Master, Salmon W. Squire.

In 1900, under the inspiration of Worshipful Master George R. Winsor, improvements in the hall and its furnishings were effected, and a new carpet was laid and paid for by contributed fends. Some of this excellent carpet is still in use in the apartments of this Temple.

Worthy of special mention are the records of Secretary Horace M. Grant from 1901 to 1909. They are in beautiful handwriting, highly embellished, and are exceedingly interesting to read.

An important milestone in the history of the Lodge, so far as modern improvements are concerned, was the appointment of a committee in June, 1902, to confer with the owner of the hall in regard to wiring the Lodge-room for electric lights, the building then being lighted with gas supplied from Dean Academy.

At the meeting held on April 6, 1903, a committee was appointed to investigate the question of building a new Masonic Hall, and the following Brethren were appointed:

  • Brother Horace W. Hosie
  • Brother Bradley M. Rockwood
  • Brother Orestes T. Doe
  • Brother Harry T. Hayward
  • Brother A. M. Thayer
  • Brother Palmer A. Woodward

This project appears to have fallen through.

The first Past Masters' Night recorded in the history of the Lodge was held on March 8, 1906, during the term of office of Worshipful Herbert W. Thayer.

The first District Deputy Grand Master appointed from the membership of Excelsior Lodge was Right Worshipful George W. Wiggin, and during his term in 1882 the Lodge received a visit from Most Worshipful Samuel Crocker Lawrence, Grand Master of Masons in Massachusetts.

In February, 1907, a committee was appointed to interview Brother Joseph G. Ray, a relative of the owner of the hall then occupied, to ascertain if he was willing to build a new Masonic Hall in a block he proposed to erect in the spring, but on March 4 of that year the committee reported and stated that Brother Ray "does not see his way clear to entertain the proposition."

On April 15, 1907, when Right Worshipful William S. Johnson was Master and Right Worshipful George R. Winsor was District Deputy, a fraternal visit was paid by Most Worshipful John Albert Blake, Grand Master of Masons in Massachusetts.

Again Excelsior Lodge showed its charitable inclinations by voting $25 for the relief of the fire sufferers in Chelsea, Massachusetts, on May 4, 1908, following that great disaster.

The Lodge continued to show its dissatisfaction with the quarters in the Ray Block, and a lengthy report of a committee on repairs to the building was presented on June 1, 1908, with the recommendations that the owners be requested to make extensive alterations as to enlargement of the hall, dining room, etc. It was recommended that if the owners failed to do anything, a Building Committee be appointed to raise $40,000 through the sale of bonds to erect a new Masonic building with stores and offices. At a later meeting, however, it was voted to go ahead only with minimum repairs to the quarters then occupied.

The following November at a special communication, a letter was read from Brother Harry T. Hayward, offering a lot on the corner of Main and Emmons Streets and $500 toward a new building, with certain restrictions; one of which was that the erection of the proposed building must be satisfactory to Dean Academy. In December a resolution was adopted thanking Brother Hayward for his generous offer, and a committee of five was appointed to confer with the officials of Dean Academy, draw plans, and devise ways of financing. This project was abandoned because the Trustees of the Academy declined to approve it, and on September 6, 1909, the committee was discharged. On March 21, 1910, when Right Worshipful Albert H. Martin was Master, a fraternal visit was paid to Excelsior Lodge by Most Worshipful Stephen Magowan, Grand Master of Masons an Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.

In 1915, when Worshipful Brother L. Harold Pendleton was Master, a sum of money was raised to purchase new officers' chairs, new benches, and a new altar for the Lodge-room, all of which are now in use in this Temple. Worshipful Brother Pendleton was installed Marshal on October 2, 1916, and is now serving his 25th year in that office.

Excelsior Lodge, as well as all other Masonic Lodges, sent a goodly number of their Brethren into the service of their country during the first World War, and on October 1, 1917, it was voted that no dues be charged to Brethren in the service for time duration of what they called the "German War." The records show that nine members of our Lodge were in service as of that date. Also, on November 5, 1917, the Lodge voted to authorize the Trustees to borrow the sum of $1200 from the Franklin National Bank at 4% interest in order to purchase Liberty Bonds, and a committee was appointed to solicit funds far Masonic War Relief.

We note that the annual meeting of the Lodge in 1918, scheduled for October, was omitted on account of the serious "flu epidemic."

On February 2, 1919, a letter was read from the Most Worshipful Grand Master with reference to the death of our distinguished Brother, Theodore Roosevelt, ex-President of the United States.

On February 14, 1921, Worshipful Solon Abbott was elected Treasurer of Excelsior Lodge and has now completed his 20th year in that position.

At the annual meeting in October, 1923, the membership of the Lodge was 313 and the Trustees had $5,724.65 in the Savings Fund. A year later the membership was 326, and the Savings Funds amounted to $6,162.33.

Right Worshipful Carl H. Carlson was installed Secretary of the Lodge on October 3, 1927, which position he still holds. At that time the membership was 341, and the Savings Funds had increased to $7,144.19.

Another Grand Master of Masons in Massachusetts, Most Worshipful Herbert W. Dean, paid a fraternal visit to Excelsior Lodge on April 22, 1929, at the time Worshipful M. Luther Buchanan was Master and Right Worshipful William S. Johnson was District Deputy. This was the first visit of a Grand Master to Franklin in twenty-three years, and in behalf of the Lodge, Most Worshipful Dean presented District Deputy Grand Master jewels to Right Worshipful Brothers George R. Winsor, John E. Barber, and William S. Johnson.

The last Charter Member of Excelsior Lodge, Brother Allen Edgar Dart, passed away on July 5, 1929.

The rapid growth in membership of all Lodges in the period following the first World War resulted in Excelsior Lodge's reaching an all time high in 1931, when 350 members were reported. However, Excelsior Lodge did not escape the effect of the economic and industrial depression which followed. During the first years of the depression the amount of dues in arrears arose alarmingly to about $1600. In 1933 a committee was appointed, with Basil M. Parsons as chairman, for the purpose of solving the problem of delinquencies. This committee worked hard and diligently, and through its efforts, over $1200 in back dues was collected in the first year. Several cases of distress were brought to light, in which the Lodge was able to render assistance. The dues of worthy Brethren were remitted in some cases, and the number of suspensions was relatively small. In 1937 the membership had dropped to 283. The present membership is 286.

Excelsior Lodge has had fifty-five Worshipful Masters during the seventy-five years of its existence. It is interesting to note chat the late Worshipful Brother, Elisha P. Chapman, served as Master from 1882 to 1885, and again in 1891 and 1892, when he iras succeeded by his son, Worshipful Brother Fred P. Chapman. He lived to see his grandson, Boyd P. Chapman, become Master in. 1918. This gave Excelsior Lodge the unusual distinction of having three generations of living Past Masters from one family group. It is interesting to us, who have known them so ■well, that all three have passed on to the Celestial Lodge above. The list of Past Masters includes three sets of brothers, namely: Albert H. and David W. Mann, Boyd P. and Donald B. Chapman, and L. Harold and A. Herbert Pendleton.

Grand Lodge honors have been bestowed on several Past Masters as follows:

  • R. W. George W. Wiggin, D. D. G. M.
  • R. W. George R. Winsor, Senior Grand Warden and D. D. G. M.
  • R. W. John E. Barber, D. D. G. M.
  • R. W. William S. Johnson, D. D. G. M.
  • R. W. Albert H. Martin, D. D. G. M.
  • R. W. Carl H. Carlson, D. D. G. M.
  • Wor. Donald B. Chapman, Junior Grand Steward.

Veteran's Medals have been presented to four Brethren, namely: Worshipful Solon Abbott, Brother Leon H. Prance, Brother Frank D. Metcalf, and Brother John L. Morse.

It is regretted that time and space will not permit the mention of all the many other Brethren who have rendered valuable and outstanding service to the Craft and to Excelsior Lodge in particular. However, it must be pointed out, at least, that since airs organization, the Lodge has included in its membership a very large percentage of the leading and influential citizens of Franklin and vicinity. These men have realized, as we do today, oat Freemasonry is a strong moral and spiritual force in the community, worthy of loyal support and devotion.

We now arrive at the beginning of what may be considered the most important era in the history of the Lodge since its organization. On April 21, 1938, during the administration of Basil M. Parsons as Worshipful Master, a special communication was called for the purpose of again considering the matter of obtaining new quarters. The word "again" is used because our history shows that on quite a number of occasions during the first seventy years, meetings were held for this purpose. All these previous projects failed to materialize. At this special communication the Worshipful Master explained that the local Y.M.C.A. was in difficulty and was considering the disposal of its land and building, because of inability to secure funds with which to carry on, and because of debts already incurred which it was unable to pay. A committee was appointed to investigate the possibility of acquiring the property and to report at the May meeting. This committee, of which Brother Ulysses L. Burns was chairman, studied the situation with extreme care, compiled and printed a special report including recommendations as to how the Y. M. C. A. property could be purchased, rebuilt and maintained, a copy of which was mailed to each Lodge member. At a well attended meeting on May 2, 1938, this report was carefully considered, and it was voted to make a proposal for the purchase of the Y. M. C. A. property to the directors of that organization.

Another special communication was called on May 23, 1938, to "elect a Board of Building Trustees and to act on all other matters pertaining to new quarters." It was reported at this special meeting that the Directors of the Y. M. C. A. had offered to sell their entire property to Excelsior Lodge for a sum of money sufficient to take care of their indebtedness up to June 1, 1938. The Lodge voted to go ahead on this basis, and the following Board of Building Trustees was elected to take over the property, secure the legal deed, pay for the property, and act on all other necessary matters in connection with this new and historic project:

  • Brother Walter F. Bennett
  • Brother Ulysses L. Burns
  • Worshipful Brother L. Harold Pendleton

Other committees appointed were a Building Committee, with Brother Adam Mackintosh as chairman, to draw up plans and secure bids for the construction of a new Lodge-room in the Y. M. C. A. building, as well as for all other necessary changes; a Finance Committee for the purpose of raising additional funds; a Volunteer Workmen's Committee, with Brother Shirley Stevens as chairman, and a Committee on Social Quarters in the new building.

On June 6, 1938, Worshipful L. Harold Pendleton reported for the Building Trustees of the new Franklin Masonic Temple the name under which the property was taken over by the Building Trustees), that the deed to the property had passed to them on May 26, and that the Volunteer Workmen's Committee had already started work on the new Temple, renovating, repairing, and making changes as required. Worshipful Basil M. Parsons, as chairman of the Finance Committee, reported that the campaign was on for additional funds, and that encouraging results had already been achieved. At this meeting an amendment to the By-Laws was proposed to extend the period required for automatic life membership from thirty to forty years, and to raise the dues from $5.00 to $7.00 per year. This was also the occasion for the last Past Masters' Night in the old hall in the Ray Block.

Shortly after this last meeting in the old hall, and following the regular meetings of Fern Chapter, O.E.S., No. 46, and Miller Chapter of Royal Arch Masons, all furnishings and other property of the Lodge were moved into temporary quarters in the gymnasium of the newly-acquired building. On June 28, 1938, the first meeting of Excelsior Lodge in their new property, a Special communication, was held in the temporary quarters. It was for the purpose of attending the funeral of our late Brother Russ W. Harding, a former able and faithful Secretary off the Lodge, in whose memory a memorial pedestal now stands in the East of our present Lodge room.

The 759th regular communication of the Lodge was held in cfce temporary quarters on July 5, 1938, at which time the Lodge received the second report of the Building Trustees, and the Worshipful Master also was pleased to report that contributions toward the building of the new Temple had already reached $3307. At this time the Lodge voted to withdraw $4900 from the Savings Fund for use of the Building Trustees. The Lodge was also pleased to learn that Miller Chapter of Royal Arch Masons had voted to purchase a carpet for the new Lodge-room. The Worshipful Master submitted and proposed the acceptance of a completely revised code of By-Laws, in keeping with new conditions under which the Lodge should function.

The 760th regular communication was held in the temporary quarters on September 12, 1938, when the Building Trustees reported that the contract for the new Lodge-room had been let to Walter H. Barker, Inc., of Taunton, Massachusetts, for the sum of $5773 and that a contract for a new heating system for the Lodge-room had been let to C. Henry Knights of Milford. It was reported that the engineering work on the new heating system had been donated by Worshipful Brother C. Norton Parsons of Hartford, Connecticut, a member of Franklin Lodge No. 56, Bristol, Connecticut, and father of the Worshipful Master. Also, at this meeting, it was voted to adopt the new code of By-Laws submitted at the previous meeting.

The first communication in the permanent Lodge-room was held on October 3, 1938, this being the annual meeting of the Lodge. The new Lodge-room had barely been completed in time for this meeting, the new carpet donated by Miller Royal Arch Chapter having been laid only late that same afternoon.

The furniture from the old Lodge-room, still in good condition, had been installed, and new memorials had been set up. New pedestals, gifts to the Lodge, bearing the three Lesser Lights were in position.

  • Pedestal in East, In Memory of Brother Russ W. Harding
  • Pedestal in West, In Memory of Brother Horace W. Hosie
  • Pedestal in South, In Memory of Brother Bradley M. Rockwood

Subsequent gifts to the Lodge were:

  • Electric clock, In Memory of Brother Harry T. Hayward
  • Seth Thomas clock, In Memory of Brother George P. Mason
  • Reception room table and chairs, In Memory of Brother Leroy W. Stott

At the beginning of this new project in May, 1938, the Worshipful Master had assured the Brethren that it would be carried through with all bills paid, and with further assurance that at least $2000 would be retained in the Savings Fund. His comprehensive report at this first annual meeting in the new Lodge room fully justified these assurances. The Lodge was pleased to re-elect Worshipful Master Parsons, in order that he might personally carry to a conclusion the building construction details, and prepare for the Temple's dedication during his term of office. He was re-installed at the annual meeting by Right Worshipful Lee R. Higgins of Bristol Lodge, North Attleboro.

At the regular meeting in December, 1938, the Master reported for the Building Fund Committee that 218 Masons had thus far pledged $6,023.89 to the building fund and that practically all of this cash had been received.

On April 3, 1939, the Lodge observed Past Masters' night, with Worshipful Brother Solon Abbot as Master of Ceremonies, and on this same evening the Worshipful Master announced the plans for dedicating the new Temple. Worshipful Brother Rev. Willard C. Selleck of Riverside, California, the oldest Past Master of Excelsior Lodge from point of service, having dimitted several years ago, was elected an Honorary Member on May 1, 1939, it being the desire of the Lodge oat all living Past Masters be members at the time of dedication.

On Saturday, May 20, 1939, the Temple was dedicated. A ■cry interesting and well planned program was carried out. "Open House" was held during the afternoon, and a splendid irccert was given in the Lodge-room by the Masonic Orchestra of Brockton for the benefit of the ladies and other guests. An elaborate banquet for the Brethren was enjoyed in the former gymnasium, now called the Masonic Auditorium, at 6:30 p.m., with Seiler of Boston as caterer. The Grand Master, Most Worshipful Joseph Earl Perry, and many other Grand Officers were present, also distinguished guests, including the Grand Master of Masons in Connecticut, Most Worshipful Thomas H. Desmond. Seated at the banquet table were two hundred forty Brethren, and they were favored with a most inspiring address by Most Worshipful Melvin M. Johnson.

The Lodge having been opened prior to the banquet, was re-convened at 8:00 p.m., at which time the Grand Master, Most Worshipful Joseph Earl Perry, and a complete corps of Grand Lodge officers and other members of his suite were received. The Grand Master was greeted in the East by the Worshipful Master, and invited to preside, that he might proceed with the ceremonies of dedication, which were then conducted with full Masonic ritual in a most dignified and very impressive manner. Following these ceremonies, the Grand Master delivered a timely and very unusual address entitled "Candles," which was later printed and distributed in booklet form. He then called on several distinguished Masons for remarks. The first speaker was Most Worshipful Thomas H. Desmond, Grand Master of Masons in Connecticut, who expressed his pleasure at being present, particularly because the Master of the Lodge had been raised in Connecticut, in Daskam Lodge No. 86, of Glastonbury. He was followed by Most Worshipful Frank L. Simpson, Past Grand Master of Masons in Massachusetts; Most Worshipful Frederick W. Hamilton, Grand Secretary and Past Grand Master; Right Worshipful Edwin O. Childs, Deputy Grand Master; and Right Worshipful Carl H. Carlson, Secretary of Excelsior Lodge and District Deputy Grand Master for the (Attleboro) 28th Masonic District. The last speaker was Worshipful Brother C. Norton Parsons of Franklin Lodge No. 56, Bristol, Connecticut, father of the Worshipful Master.

The Grand Master then surprised the Worshipful Master, Basil M. Parsons, by presenting to him, on behalf of the Grand Lodge, a Distinguished Service Medal, in recognition of outstanding service to the Craft. Thus concluded what was probably the most auspicious and important occasion in the history of Excelsior Lodge since its institution.

Another noteworthy event in 1939 was a special communication to attend Divine Worship at Grace Universalist Church in Franklin to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the inauguration of Worshipful Brother George Washington as the first President of the United States. Rev. Brother Truman J. Menadue, Pastor of the Church, preached a sermon on "The Masonic Idealism of Washington."

At the annual meeting of the Lodge on October 2, 1939, the membership was 283, and the Lodge held in its savings fund $2,241.48, with all bills paid and no mortgage or other incumbrance on the Temple. The Building Trustees presented their final report on the cost of construction, stating that the total expenditures were $12,782.95, and that the Lodge had used only $6,400.00 of reserve funds. At this point, special mention is made of the fact that the only portion of the work of remodeling the building let out to contract was the construction and heating or the main Lodge-room. The remodeling and renovating of the remainder of the Temple building was done by a group of volunteer workmen, members of the Lodge, who labored long and arduously for eighteen months, the expense to the Lodge being only for materials used other than that which was donated. The actual saving to the Lodge cannot be accurately estimated, but the great amount of work performed by this Volunteer Workmen's Committee enabled the Lodge to complete the project without incurring a debt.

At the annual meeting on October 7, 1940, the membership was 286, and the Lodge had $2,499.14 in the savings fund. Worshipful Albert B. Barnes, shortly after being installed, began preparation for the observance of the 75th anniversary of Excelsior Lodge, and appointed Worshipful Brother Basil M. Parsons as chairman of the 75th Anniversary Committee.

On Sunday evening, May 11, 1941, the Lodge attended Divine Worship in the Congregational Church in Wrentham, by invitation of its Pastor, Rev. Brother Melville A. Shafer, Chaplain of Excelsior Lodge. This service constituted a part of the 75th anniversary program, and Masons from surrounding towns joined with Excelsior Lodge in attendance upon this special Church service. Worshipful Brother Rev. D. Joseph Imler, Grand Chaplain, preached the anniversary sermon.

Today, May 16, 1941, we are gathered in our own Temple, to take due notice of this 75th anniversary of our beloved Lodge. We are proud of our history, proud of the many loyal and hard working members who have "borne the burden and heat of the day" in all the years gone by, and of those who are now carrying the torch of Freemasonry in Franklin. It was realized at the time the Temple was dedicated that we possessed something which was "a thing of beauty and a joy forever," and when we pass it on to those who follow us, we shall be confident that the spirit and purposes of Masonry will be safe in their hands as in our own.

May this brief resume of the first seventy-five years of our Lodge inspire our successors to attain even higher and greater accomplishments in Masonic idealism, for God and humanity.

CENTENARY HISTORY, MARCH 1966

From Proceedings, Page 1966-65:

By Wor. Walter A. Sanderson and Others.

It may seem rather unusual for one to start writing the history of a Lodge by referring first to the history of another Lodge, but as Masonic influences existed in the Town of Franklin for at least some seventy years prior to the organization of Excelsior Lodge, it appears fitting and proper to make such reference on this occasion.

Montgomery Lodge, now located in Milford, held its first meeting July 10, 1797, in the home of Dr. Nathaniel Miller situated at what was called River End in Franklin, and it continued to meet there until April, 1798. The Lodge next met on May 2, 1798 at Oliver Pond's Tavern until February 20, 1799. On April 10 following, it moved to Masons Hall, a building especially erected for its use near the southeasterly corner of the Franklin Common, and there the Lodge remained until December 7, 1808. Montgomery Lodge then moved to Medway, later to West Medway, and finally to Milford.

It is interesting to note that although Montgomery Lodge was organized and occupied three different meeting places in Franklin within the years 1797 to 1808, the men who petitioned the Grand Lodge for a Charter for Excelsior Lodge were not members of Montgomery Lodge, and no Charter Member of Excelsior Lodge had any previous connection with that Lodge.

The information which herein follows is largely chronological in arrangement, and is presented as a sketch of some of the highlights gathered from the records of the Lodge.

There were eight original petitioners to the Grand Lodge for a Charter to organize a Lodge in Franklin under the name of Excelsior Lodge, and the Grand Lodge issued a dispensation to them March 15, 1866. These men were Horatio Stockbridge, Rev. Ezra D. Winslow, Dr. William B. Nolen, Rev. Salmon W. Squire, John A. Davis, Robert H. Bruce, and William Young. The dispensation being granted, the first meeting of the Lodge was held Monday, March 26, 1866, in the office of Horatio Stockbridge, now supposed to have been located on Main Street about opposite Dean Avenue. Rev. Salmon W. Squire was elected Worshipful Master; Rev. Ezra D. Winslow, Senior Warden; and Dr. William B. Nolen, Junior Warden. The Lodge was opened on the third degree, and Wor. Bro. Squire appointed the following additional officers: Robert Bruce, Secretary; James H. Shaw, Treasurer; Horatio Stock-bridge, Senior Deacon; William Young, Junior Deacon; John Davis, Tyler.

Two subsequent meetings were held in the office of Brother Horatio Stockbridge, and at a special communication, April 4, 1866, it was voted to lease a hall from Mr. A. A. Russeque at a yearly rental charge of $125. This hall consisted of a large room on the second floor of a building located near the railroad bridge, and the first meeting of the Lodge in the new quarters was held April 23, 1866. Here the Lodge remained until 1872. On February 18, 1867, a code of by-laws was adopted. The Lodge was constituted and the Hall dedicated by Most Worshipful Grand Master, Charles C. Dame, on March 18, 1867.

The first official visit of a District Deputy Grand Master was made on July 23, 1866, when the Lodge received R. W. Henry C. Skinner. The records show that on August 30, 1866, 22 members of Bristol Lodge, North Attleboro, and 10 members of St. Alban's Lodge, Foxboro, visited in Franklin. This friendly spirit still exists in a splendid way, for Excelsior Lodge has the pleasure of frequent visits of many brethren from these two neighbor Lodges.

Let us not forget that we are recalling the so-called "horse and buggy" days. Think of those 22 Brethren driving up from North Attleboro and the ten others from Foxboro, not very far to be sure, but the time consumed in making the round trip was at least three or four times greater than required today.

The first code of By-Laws had two interesting clauses which our members today will enjoy reading.

  • Section 2, Article VIII, "No Brother shall be allowed to speak more than twice on the same subject except by permission of the Master or for explanation."
  • Section 3, Article VIII, "No Brother shall disturb another while speaking unless to call him to order for words spoken and he shall remain silent until the Master has decided a point of order."

Again, it is interesting to note that Excelsior Lodge was invited to attend the ceremonies of laying the corner-stone of the first Dean Academy building on May 16, 1867. This invitation was accepted and a Special Communication was held at 9:00 A.M. on that date. A procession was formed and the members marched to the grounds at 10:30 A.M., returning at 4:00 P.M. This must have been a red-letter day in the early life of the Lodge, and we presume that the attending Masons were well fed at Dean, although no mention is made of being "Called from labor to refreshment." On May 6, an invitation was received by Dean Junior College to attend the dedication of a new building to be named for Professor Alexander C. Ewen. Professor Ewen, a member of Excelsior Lodge, presided as Master in the year 1935.

The Lodge having been organized shortly after the close of the Civil War, the old records make no reference to that conflict, except that in 1869 it was voted to rent the Hall with "lamp fixtures" to the Grand Army of the Republic for their bi-monthly meetings for the sum of $75.00 per year.

At about 1869, the Lodge appears to have made several efforts to secure other quarters, even to the extent of erecting a building for that purpose, and a committee was appointed to select a site, and to ascertain how much money could be raised. Un March 25, 1871, three Trustees were appointed to handle details of a proposed new building to be erected on the so-called "Ruggles Lot," to disperse the money and to do anything necessary therewith. At this time, Mr. Joseph G. Ray was admitted a member, and he became an important influence in the welfare of the Lodge, for it was largely through his interest and cooperation that a Masonic Hall was provided in the Ray Block then under construction. The records state that Brother King was appointed to see that the Dining Hall connected therewith be partitioned off so as to have the "cook room" separate from the main room. Most of us remember this "cook room" in our former quarters, but we called it the "kitchen."

On December 5, 1871, a Committee was appointed to secure a lease of the quarters in the new Ray Block and to have full charge of fitting up the same. They were instructed not to spend "over $1200 in furnishing and fitting the Hall."

In January, 1872, the Committee on furnishing the new Hall reported an estimate of $840., and on March 18, the Committee further reported that Brother Joseph G. Ray was ready at any time to give a lease to the Hall at $200 yearly rental. It was voted to take over the quarters March 31, 1872. This was the Hall which Excelsior Lodge occupied until 1938, a period of 66 years.

Masonic Hall in the Ray Block was dedicated June 27, 1872. R. W. George W. Stacy, District Deputy Grand Master, presided and also installed the new officers.

An interesting record, as of December 20, 1872, states that Grand Lodge issued a Special Dispensation for Excelsior Lodge to hold regular meetings on the first Mondays, January, February and April, 1874, regardless of the fact that these meetings would not be held "on or before the full of the moon as provided in the by-laws." In May 1876, amendments to the By-Laws were adopted to include the office of Inside Sentinel, and to designate a Stated Meeting Night without reference to "full of the moon." Our old-time Brethren got away from the "full of the moon" many years sooner than some Lodges where this subject is still discussed.

Reports presented at the annual meeting in March, 1873. show that the Lodge was in debt to the extent of $350.58. At the January 5, 1874 annual meeting, the debt had been reduced to $282.51. And at the next annual meeting it was down to $69.11. A year later, January, 1876, it was further reduced by 120.

At the annual meeting in January, 1878, the Lodge showed a cash balance of $11.70 with all bills paid. And on January 3, 1881, the Lodge was out of the red by a fairly safe margin, having a balance of $101.32.

At the annual meeting on October 7, 1882, Elisha P. Chapman became Worshipful Master. Through his influence it was voted that $100 be placed in the hands of the Trustees for investment, and this proved to be the beginning of a fund which subsequently enabled the Lodge to purchase the Temple in which we are now assembled.

Relief was by no means neglected by the members of Excelsior Lodge 80 or 90 years ago, for we often find reference to a Relief Committee in our records, and we note that on May 5, 1879, the Lodge was presented a Sick Chair to be used by the Relief Committee.

Of historical interest is the record of a Special Communication held on September 26, 1881, for the purpose of attending memorial services in the Congregational Church of Franklin for our late Brother James A. Garfield, Honored President of the United States. The Lodge Room was draped in mourning for a period of three months.

The first mention of railroad travel is on November 7, 1881, when a motion was passed thanking the New York and New England Railroad Company for the favor of a special free train to Norwood to attend funeral services of Brother Eldon B. Pratt.

At this point we must make note of the fact that Brother Thomas Spence was appointed Tyler of Excelsior Lodge in 1885 and served continuously in that capacity till October, 1921, 36 years of faithful service. And on February 22, 1925, he was presented a Henry Price medal in recognition of 50 years of continuous membership.

Our brethren in the early days were not so much concerned about the lateness of the hour as some are today, for we note that on April 18, 1887, a Special Communication was the occasion of a fraternal visit of Brethren of Orient Lodge in Norwood. The record reads: "the Lodge closed without form at 11:00 and repaired to the banquet hall where we spent the time refreshing the inner man and enjoying songs, recitations, and words of cheer until 12:40 A. M. with singing Auld Lang Syne the party broke up full of gratitude to our visiting Brethren for their fraternal and social visit." Be sure to note that they were full of gratitude only!

Although we are lacking any clear details, Excelsior Lodge appears to have celebrated its 25th Anniversary on June 1, 1891, as the records show; an orchestra and quartet were present that evening.

We note further that in 1894 it was voted to rent the Masonic Hall to Fern Chapter, O .E. S. #46, which was then being organized. A Special Communication of the Lodge was held on May 3, 1895, to attend the funeral services of our first Worshipful Master, Worshipful Salmon W. Squire.

In 1900, under the inspiration of Worshipful Master George R. Windsor, improvements in the Hall and its furnishings were effected, and a new carpet was laid and paid for by contributed funds. Some of this excellent carpet is still in use in the apartments of the Temple.

Worthy of special mention are the records of Secretary Horace M. Grant from 1901 to 1909. They are in beautiful handwriting highly embellished and are exceedingly interesting to read.

An important milestone in the history of the Lodge, so far as modern improvements are concerned, was the appointment of a committee in June 1902 to confer with the owner of the Hall in regard to wiring the Lodge Room for electric lights, the building then being lighted with gas supplied from Dean Academy.

At the meeting held on April 6, 1903, a Committee was appointed to investigate the question of building a new Masonic Hall, and the following Brethren were appointed: Brother Horace W. Hosie, Brother Bradley M. Rockwood, Brother Restes T. Doe, Brother Harry T. Hayward, Brother A. N. Thayer, Brother Palmer A. Woodward. This project appears to have fallen through.

The first Past Master's night recorded in the history of the Lodge was held on March 8, 1906, during the term of office of Worshipful Herbert W. Thayer.

The first District Deputy Grand Master appointed from the membership of Excelsior Lodge was Right Worshipful George W. Wiggin, and during his term in 1882 the Lodge received a visit from Most Worshipful Samuel Crocker Lawrence, Grand Master of Masons in Massachusetts.

In February, 1907, a committee was appointed to interview Brother Joseph G. Ray, a relative of the owner of the Hall then occupied, to ascertain if he was willing to build a new Masonic Hall in a Block he proposed to erect in the spring. But on March 4 of that year, the Committee reported and stated that Brother Ray, "does not see his way clear to entertain the proposition."

The Lodge continued to show its dissatisfaction with the quarters in the Ray Block, and a lengthy report of a committee on repairs to the building was presented on June 1, 1908, with the recommendations that the owners be requested to make extensive alterations as to enlargement of the Hall, dining room, etc. It was recommended that if the owners failed to do anything, a Building Committee be appointed to raise $40,000,

through the sale of bonds to erect a new Masonic building with stores and offices. At a later meeting, however, it was voted to go ahead only with the minimum repairs to the quarters then occupied.

The following November at a Special Communication, a letter was read from Brother Harry T. Hayward offering a lot on the corner of Main and Emmons Streets and $500 toward a new building with certain restrictions, one of which was that the erection of the proposed building must be satisfactory to Dean Academy. In December a resolution was adopted thanking Brother Hayward for his generous offer, and a Committee of five was appointed to confer with the officials of Dean Academy, draw plans, and devise ways of financing. This project was abandoned because the Trustees of the Academy declined to approve it, and on September 6, 1909 the Committee was discharged.

In 1915, when Worshipful Brother L. Harold Pendleton was Master, a sum of money was raised to purchase new officers' chairs, new benches, and a new altar for the Lodge Room, all of which are now in use in this Temple.

Excelsior Lodge, as well as all other Masonic Lodges, sent a goodly number of its Brethren into the service of their country during the First World War, and on October 1, 1917, it was voted that no dues be charged to Brethren in the service for the duration of what they called the German War.

We note that the annual meeting of the Lodge in 1918, scheduled for October, was omitted on account of the serious flu epidemic. On February 3, 1919, a letter was read from the Most Worshipful Grand Master with reference to the death of our distinguished Brother, Theodore Roosevelt, ex-president of the United States.

At the annual meeting in October 1923, the membership °' the Lodge was 313 and the Trustees had $5724.65 in the savings fund. A year later the membership was 326 and the savings fund amounted to $6162.33.

On October 3, 1927, Right Worshipful Carl H. Carlson was installed Secretary of the Lodge, a position which he held for 30 years. At that time the membership was 341, and the savings funds had increased to $7144.19.

The last charter member of Excelsior Lodge, Brother Allen Edgar Dart, passed away on July 5, 1929.

Excelsior Lodge has had 70 Worshipful Masters during the 100 years of its existence. It is interesting to note that the late Worshipful Brother Elisha P. Chapman served as Master from 1882 to 188S and again in 1891, and he was succeeded by his son, Worshipful Brother Fred P. Chapman. He lived to see his grandson, Boyd P. Chapman, become Master in 1918. The list of Past Masters includes three sets of brothers, namely: Albert H. and David W. Mann; Boyd P. and Donald B. Chapman; L. Harold and A. Herbert Pendleton. Also two sets of fathers-and-sons Masters: Adam and Donald Mackintosh; Chester B. and Chester W. Hobbs. We now arrive at the beginning of what may be considered the most important era in the history of the Lodge since its organization.

On April 21, 1938, during the administration of Worshipful Basil M. Parsons, a Special Communication was called for the purpose of again considering the matter of obtaining new quarters. The word again is used because our history shows that on quite a number of occasions during the first 100 years, meetings were held for this purpose. At this Special Communication, the Worshipful Master explained that the local Y. M. C. A. was in difficulty, and was considering the disposal of its land and building because of debts already incurred which it was unable to pay. A Committee was appointed to investigate the possibility of acquiring the property and to report at the May meeting. At a well attended meeting on May 2, 1938, this report was carefully considered, and it was voted to make a proposal for the purchase of the Y.M.C.A. property to the directors of that organization. On May 23, 1938, another Special Communication was called to elect a Board of Building Trustees and to act on all other matters pertaining to new quarters. It was reported at this meeting that the directors of the Y.M.C.A. had offered to sell the entire property to Excelsior Lodge for a sum of money sufficient to take care of their indebtedness up to June 1, 1938. The Lodge voted to go ahead on this basis, and the following Board of Building Trustees was elected to take over the property, secure the legal deed, pay for the property, and to act on all other necessary matters in connection with this new and historic project: Brother Walter F. Bennett, Brother Ulysses L. Burns, Worshipful Brother L. Harold Pendleton. It is noted that the 759th and 760th Regular Communications were held in the temporary quarters of the new building, the area which the Post Office now occupies. The first Communication in the present Lodge Room was held on October 3, 1938, this being the annual meeting of the Lodge.

On Saturday, May 20, 1939, the Temple was dedicated. A very interesting and well planned program was carried out. Open house was held during the afternoon, and a splendid concert was given in the Lodge room by the Masonic Orchestra of Brockton, for the benefit of the ladies and other guests. The Grand Master, Most Worshipful Joseph Earl Perry, and many other Grand Officers were present, also distinguished guests including the Grand Master of Masons in Connecticut, Most Worshipful Thomas H. Desmond. Seated at the banquet table were 240 Brethren, and they were favored with a most inspiring address by Most Worshipful Melvin M. Johnson. The Grand Master then surprised Worshipful Master Basil M. Parsons by presenting to him on behalf of the Grand Lodge a Distinguished Service Medal in recognition of outstanding service to the Craft. Thus concluded what was probably the most auspicious and important occasion in the history of Excelsior Lodge since its institution. At the annual meeting of the Lodge on October 2, the membership was 283, and the Lodge held in its savings fund $2,241.48 with all bills paid and no mortgage or other encumbrance on the Temple.

At the annual meeting on October 7, 1940, the membership was 286, and the Lodge had $2499.14 in the savings fund. Worshipful Albert B. Barnes shortly after being installed began preparing for the observance of the 75th anniversary of Excelsior Lodge, and appointed Worshipful Brother Basil M. Parsons as Chairman.

On Sunday evening. May 11, 1941, the Lodge attended Divine Worship in the Congregational Church in Wrentham, by invitation of its pastor, Rev. Bro. Melville A. Shafer, Chaplain of Excelsior Lodge. This service constituted a part of the 75th anniversary program, and Masons from surrounding towns joined with Excelsior Lodge in attendance upon this special Church service. Worshipful Brother Rev. D. Joseph Imler, Grand Chaplain, preached the anniversary sermon.

On Friday evening, May 16, 1941, a Special Communication of Excelsior Lodge was held to observe the 75th anniversary. At 6:30 P.M., a banquet was served by Fern Chapter, Order of the Eastern Star. Worshipful Master Albert B. Barnes of Excelsior Lodge introduced Worshipful Brother Basil M. Parsons, Chairman of the 75th Anniversary Committee, who in turn introduced Right Worshipful Brother Horace J. Cahill, Lieutenant Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as the dinner speaker. His subject was "Americanism." At 8:15 P.M., Excelsior Lodge reconvened and Most Worshipful Albert A. Schaefer, Grand Master of Masons in Massachusetts, was received. He was introduced by Right Worshipful William S. Johnson, Chairman of the Welcoming Committee. The official count for the evening was: Grand Lodge officers, 16; Members, 88; Visitors, 87; total 191. The history of Excelsior Lodge was read by Right Worshipful Carl H. Carlson, following which the Grand Master ordered a full and complete account of the history of Excelsior Lodge to be made a part of the record of the Grand Lodge, and printed in the Grand Lodge proceedings. At this time, we were entering World War II, and we find nothing in the records of any interest except that at the January 4, 1943 meeting the dues for the current year of all Brothers serving in the armed forces were remitted.

On February 27, 1946, occurred the death of Rev. Brother M. A. Shafer. It was noted at the time that Rev. Brother Shafer had served Excelsior Lodge as Chaplain for 29 years.

At a Regular Communication held on November 7, 1946, a check was received for $1,000 for full payment of a legacy under the will of the late Lydia Ray Pierce to establish a Permanent Fund in memory of her father, Joseph G. Ray.

On that same evening, a testimonial was held for Worshipful Brother L. Harold Pendleton in recognition of long and faithful service to the Lodge. Worshipful Brother Pendleton had participated in serving the Lodge as an officer, as Worshipful Master, and immediately following he served 25 consecutive years as Marshal. He also served as Lodge Trustee, and Trustee of the Franklin Masonic Temple from the time the property was acquired until this evening when he retired from all Lodge positions. In behalf of the members of the Lodge, Worshipful Brother David W. Mann presented a substantial check to him in token of appreciation for long and faithful service.

On February 6, 1947, a new set of sterling silver altar jewels was presented to the Lodge by Brother John W. Haines, Jr., in memory of his son, who lost his life in World War II.

The period from August 31, 19S0 to August 31, 1955, a total of 47 new members signed the by-laws of Excelsior Lodge. Eleven affiliations were recorded, nine demits were issued, and thirty-three Brothers were called to their reward.

A special communication was held by Worshipful George A. Carr on October 13, 1952, to honor Right Worshipful Carl H. Carlson in recognition of his 25 years of service as Secretary of the Lodge. A large and very distinguished suite accompanied the Acting Grand Master, Right Worshipful Harold W. Sprague, including Most Worshipful Samuel H. Wragg, Past Grand Master; Most Worshipful Roger Keith, Past Grand Master; and Most Excellent Alexander Campbell, Grand High Priest of the Grand Royal Arch Chapter in Massachusetts; Right Worshipful John A. Sullivan, District Deputy Grand Master of the Attleboro 28th Masonic District, and other Grand Lodge officers. Worshipful Basil M. Parsons acted as Master of Ceremonies. Right Worshipful Carl H. Carlson was awarded the Joseph Warren Distinguished Service Medal for his fatihful service to the Craft by Right Worshipful Harold W. Sprague. Also during this eventful evening, Right Worshipful Brother Sullivan presented Worshipful David W. Mann a Veteran's Medal in recognition of his 50-year membership in the Fraternity.

At the communication of March 2, 1953, Worshipful Master Alton K. Shaw brought to the Lodge's attention that Brother Walter F. Bennett had on his own suggestions touched up the oil paintings which grace the walls of our Lodge Room. These paintings, after 35 years, had become damaged, and for a time had been stored in an ante-room.

Much of the credit for the success of this 100th anniversary goes to Worshipful Arthur B. Frazer, who back on October 4, 1954, appointed a Committee to explore the desirability of establishing an Anniversary Fund for the Centennial Anniversary in 1966. It was noted that Worshipful Harold W. Eastman was appointed District Deputy Grand Master for the Attleboro 28th Masonic District on December 27, 1954.

The year 1956 was a memorable year for Excelsior Lodge. Worshipful Basil M. Parsons reported that the Organ Committee had purchased a new Hammond Organ at a cost of $2737. This was made possible by a $1000 bequest, left by the late Brother Walter A. Hill. Donations by Miller Royal Arch Chapter, Fern Chapter, Order of the Eastern Star, Excelsior Lodge, and by individual member donations, brought it well over the purchase figure. With the balance of the money, the water cooler in the outer lobby was purchased.

The Past Master's Apron that had been presented to Worshipful Dr. Solon Abbott on his 84th birthday was returned to the Lodge to be presented to the oldest living Past Master,who at the time was Worshipful Brother Charles B. Hussey. Worshipful Brother Hussey was conducted to the East, and presented with this fine Apron, and also a gift from the Lodge for his many years of faithful service to Masonry and to the community. The presentation was made by Worshipful Donald S. Macintosh, who some 32 years previous was brought into the world by Worshipful Dr. Hussey.

During the year 1958, a great deal of repair work was accomplished both inside and outside of the Temple Building. The kitchen in the basement was completely renovated by Brother DeWitt Willis and George Sanderson.

On May 23, 1959, a Special Communication of Excelsior Lodge was held in the afternoon to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the present Temple. The purpose of this celebration was to raise funds in order that we might complete the renovation program that had been started the previous year. After a fine roast beef banquet, which was served in the auditorium. Most Worshipful Andrew G. Jenkins, Grand Master of Masons in Massachusetts, addressed the Lodge and complimented Worshipful Basil M. Parsons and his Committee for their fine work in making this Anniversary celebration a success.

Worshipful Walter A. Sanderson reported that Brother Carl Nelson, a member of Orient Lodge in Norwood, Massachusetts, had donated a fine set of Square and Compasses for use in Excelsior Lodge. You will note that this is the same set that is in use here this evening. During the years 1962, 1963, and 1964, extensive renovations were made to the Temple Building. A new ceiling was installed in the Lodge Room. The Lodge Room lobby and library were completely painted. The dining-room floor and corridor floors have been completely recovered with tile. The two restrooms in the basement have also been thoroughly renovated.

During this same period of time, Excelsior Lodge won the Lodge of Instruction Attendance Cup for three consecutive years. This cup is now on display in the Trophy case in the library.

The Trustees' report ending August 31, 1965, states that an agreement was made with the Post Office Department to rent temporarily the Auditorium in the Temple for a temporary post office while the regular post office building is being enlarged. We would be remiss, however, if we did not mention at this time that a Committee has been appointed by the Worshipful Master to look into the purchase of a piece of land for a new Franklin Masonic Temple. Who knows, maybe by our 125th anniversary we will be celebrating in that Temple.

Today, March 12, 1966, we are gathered in our own Temple to take due notice of this 100th Anniversary of our beloved Lodge. We are proud of our history, proud of our many loyal and hard-working members, who have borne the burden and heeded the day in all the years gone by, and of those who are now carrying the torch of Free Masonry in Franklin.

In bringing to a close this record of 100 years of Masonry, I know that we agree ours is a glorious history. It is in truth a tremendous heritage, and we cheerfully and open-heartedly accept this heritage tonight as rightfully ours. We recognize at once that with it we must assume a terrific challenge, the challenge to so conduct our individual lives in the life of our Lodge that we will in no way lower the high standards of Masonry.

May this brief resume of our 100 years inspire our successors to attain even higher and greater accomplishment in Masonic Idealism for God and Humanity.


EVENTS

CONSTITUTION OF LODGE, MARCH 1867

From Moore's Freemason's Monthly, Vol. XXVI, No. 6, April 1867, Page 174:

This Lodge, having worked its year under a Dispensation, received its charter at the late quarterly communication of the Grand Lodge, and was constituted and its officers installed by the M. W. Grand Master, assisted by his officers, on the evening of the 18th ult. It is located in the pleasant village of Franklin, in Norfolk Co., and has been very successful the past year, with encouraging prospects for the future. It has a small but neat and convenient hall, and is well officered, as follows,: —

  • Rev. Salmon W. Squire, W. M.
  • William B. Nolen, S. W.
  • James H. Shaw, J. W.
  • Robert H. Bruce, Treasurer.
  • John A. Davis, Secretary.
  • Horatio Stockbridge, S. D.
  • William Young, J. D.
  • Henry W. Corson, Chaplain.
  • William A. Stanley, Marshal.
  • George R. Pain, S. S.
  • Jessee L. Nason, J. S.
  • Henry E. Corbin, Tyler.

GRAND LODGE OFFICERS


DISTRICTS

1867: District 12 (Milford)

1883: District 20 (Milford)

1911: District 22 (Blackstone)

1927: District 22 (Milford)

1931: District 28 (Attleboro)

2003: District 16


LINKS

Massachusetts Lodges