From a postcard, dated about 1906
Likely the 1874 Masonic Hall
- Baalbec Lodge, from 1954 to its merger into Wyoming Lodge in 2001.
- Robert Lash Lodge, from 1867 to the surrender of its charter in 1993.
- Star of the Bethlehem Lodge, from 1843 to its removal to Wakefield in 1960.
- 12/09/1874: 1874-114; Hall dedication reported in the Grand Master's Address at the December Quarterly. (held 03/31/1874; description below).
- 07/24/1909: 1909-73; Corner-stone laying, at a Special Communication.
- 01/18/1912: Hall dedication; not in Proceedings; see below.
- 11/29/1972: 1972-345; Hall dedication, at a Special Communication.
HALL DEDICATION, MARCH 1874
From New England Freemason, Vol. I, No. 4, April 1874, p. 186:
The new Masonic apartments at Chelsea were dedicated to the purposes of Masonry in Ample Form on Tuesday evening, the thirty-first ultimo, in the presence of about four hundred Brethren. They arc located in the third and fourth stories of Campbell's Block, on the corner of Broadway and Third street. The main hall occupies about two-thirds of the entire length of the building, and is sixty feet in length by forty in width. The ceiling has a centre-piece of blue and gold, bordered with rich colors. In the corners are painted the Bible, Ark and various symbols. The angles from the ceilings to the walls are finished in blue and gold, one side having emblazoned upon it the group of emblems of the first degree, the opposite side those of the second, and the west end those of the third. The walls are also adorned with the four pictures so familiar to our eyes in the Lodge-room, most artistically done. On the same floor is the Prelate's Room, which will furnish admirable accommodations for a small Lodge. Connected with these halls, are all the necessary anterooms, including reception, toilet and coat-room. On the floor above is a spacious Armory, furnished with black walnut cabinets, and having the ceiling adorned with a representation of Faith, Hope and Charity. Connected with the Armory by sliding doors is the banquet hall. On the evening of the dedication the two rooms were thus connected, and tables were set for between three and four hundred. All of the apartments appeared to be conveniently arranged and elegantly fitted and furnished. They reflect the highest credit upon the liberality of the Fraternity of Chelsea, and upon the good taste of the Brethren who have had the matter in charge. The halls will be occupied by Star of Bethlehem and Robert Lash Lodges, Shekinah Royal Arch Chapter, Naphtali Council and Palestine Commandery.
The dedication ceremony was performed by Grand Master Nickerson, assisted by R. W. Percival L. Everett, Dep. G. Master, R. W. William T. Grammer, Senior G. Warden, R. W. Henry Endicott as Junior G. Warden, R. W. John McClellan, G. Treas., R. W. Charles H. Titus as G. Chaplain, W. William H. Chessman, G. Marshal, and P. G. Masters Coolidge, Parkman and Dame.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, the Grand Master briefly addressed the Brethren, explaining the symbolism of the service, con¬ gratulating them upon their improved accommodations, and exhorting them to increased fidelity and zeal in the discharge of their Masonic duties.
R. W. Tracy P. Cheever then read an historical address, giving a very full account of the rise and progress of the various Masonic Bodies in Chelsea, of great interest, especially to the Brethren of that city. Its peroration will be interesting and instructive to the Fraternity generally, and we therefore take pleasure in presenting it:
"These short and simple sketches, mainly referring to the rise and first steps of progress of the several societies of Freemasonry which have been here established, will suffice to indicate their close connection with the growth and prosperity of the municipality of their location. It is a source of just pride that our city has, for the past thirty years, known no organization or association of its citizens, more honorable than these in character and worth. Upon the Brethren of all these Masonic Associations, upon the young Masons of this day, will fall the mantles of those older Brethren whose labors laid the foundations and raised the several structures, the solidity and harmonious proportions of which we now enjoy. The builders must soon yield to the inexorable call of waning years and failing strength, and their successors must maintain the Temple firm and unimpaired. Ever bearing in mind that all the local institutions of this Fraternity are but parte of a stupendous whole, they must never fail in that constant duty which best guards the honor and secures the interests of each subordinate, by never losing sight of the honor and interests of the Grand Body which represents and identifies the whole.
"To the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of this Commonwealth, as the source or foundation of all Masonic authority in this jurisdiction, and to its Most Worshipful Grand Master, the honorable and worthy heir and successor of a lofty Masonic lineage, the Brethren of this city, of all ranks and orders of the Fraternity, tender their respectful and fraternal allegiance.
"We may take to ourselves larger and more commodious habitations; we may pile up structures in which architecture and the arts and appliances of luxury may combine in the loftiest and grandest aesthetic effects, and may nevertheless lose the spirit of Masonry, which, after all, needs no ornaments save the jewels of the soul and the graces of character. It is indeed well to erect material temples and to invest the imposing and solemn ceremonies of our work and ritual with the beauty and finish of external adornment. It is far belter to surround our Lodges as well as the lives of our Brethren with the imperishable walls of honor, truth and fidelity, and to adorn them with the priceless gems of faith, charity and brotherly love, jewels which will not dissolve though the universe were in flames.
"The Institution of Freemasonry, now so all-pervading in the civilization of the world, has no real, certainly no permanent strength beyond the strength of character derived from its individual members. Like a ship at sea, its strength is only that of its weakest part. If the masses of the Brotherhood, be never so faithful to our principles and never so constant in their daily exemplification, a minority of recreant, hypocritical or selfish Brethren may neutralize the most earnest endeavors. It is for each single Brother to bear aloft the standard of the Fraternity, as though ho were alone responsible for its display upon the world's field of action. When thus discharging his individual duty, he need not fear that any mortal enemy will be able to strike from his hand that radiant flag, or that invincible masses of sympathizing Brethren will not hasten in serried ranks to his assistance and assured delivery.
"Doubtless the external foes of the Masonic Brotherhood are numerous, persistent and strong. For centuries the largest and most powerful organization of Christendom, the Roman Catholic Church, holding a never relaxed grasp upon the consciences and wills of its often fatuous devotees, has been, according to its various expediences, an open or a secret opponent of this Fraternity. Zealots and sectaries of other creeds have studiously misrepresented, and from time to time vigorously assailed our principles and our practices, as inimical to the interests of Christianity. Yet, with the exception of some passing wave of popular excitement, such as was seen in the last generation, blown into temporary fury by the breath of sectarian or political fanaticism, all merely external attempts to shake our firm citadel, have been vain. The real danger now, as ever, is from within. Judgment must begin at the house of Israel. A social and philosophical institution which has survived the oppositions and rivalries of cen¬ turies, and which, during the whole era of its authentic history, has challenged the admiration of the wise and good of all kindred and tongues, deserves for its successful maintenance, and perpetuity, the noblest devotion and the highest sacrifice of all its sons. If descend¬ ing from its high estate through internal corruption and decay, it shall at length meet the fate of the ruined empires and dethroned institutions of the past, God grant that its fall shall in no sense be traceable to the guardians of its life and honor in the present generation!"
The Lodge being closed, the Brethren repaired to the banquet hall, where a capital collation was spread, to which ample justice was done. R. W. Brother Cheever presided and, as usual, called up the speakers in the happiest manner. Thus an hour or two was most agreeably passed in listening to brief remarks from the Grand Master, Past Grand Masters Coolidge, Parkman and Dame, Grand Secretary Titus and others. The company separated about midnight, and as the Grand Officers rode home it was unanimously agreed that "we always have a good time when we go to Chelsea."
We missed on this occasion the enlivening presence of Brother B. P. Shillaber, of Robert Lash Lodge, who was detained at home by an attack of gout — which he says he inherits from his wife's relations. He was represented, however, by his son, a member of the same Lodge, who read the following lines written by Mrs. Partington:
Light! More Light!
The earth primeval, in the dark,
Groped here and there without a spark
To light its way, in constant danger
Of colliding with some stranger,
All astray in the upper spaces,
Ere the stars had found their places;
When through the gloom of chaos broke
The voice divine, that being spoke:
"Let there be light!" and the red sun
Appeared as the first day begun;
The earth in blissful radiance swung,
And all the stars in chorus sung,
Saluting the auspicious morn
That saw great Anno Lucis born.
And Lucis is our grandest boast,
To whom we are beholden most:
For the sun's light, the day to cheer,
To the bright gas illuming here, —
Almost outvieing Sol's afflatus,
Lighted by Cutter's apparatus;
For moonshine and the golden stars,
To patent matches, for cigars;
For Northern lights, sublime displays,
To kerosene's infernal blaze,
Which sends so many o'er the road
By fluid that will not explode;
For Clark's new patent safety lamps,
To witch-lights in the meadow damps;
For lightning's flash from pole to pole,
To Hatch and Campbell's flame from coal, —
We well may brag, with zealous fuss,
That Anno Lucis "trains" with us.
The claim that he is ours is taught us
In every notice that is brought us,
Where "A. L. 5 8 7 4"
Directs our footsteps to the door
Where light is plenteous to obtain;
But many in the dark remain—
Too oft, by far, as we well know
For any decent cable tow.
Since that remote primeval day
When Anno Lucis took the sway,
When darkness threatened mind or eye,
"More light! more light!" has been the cry,
And in our Order's scope one sees
How light has broadened by degrees.
A recent shade of darkness fell
Upon our modern Israel;
A darkness constantly increased
Until we knew not where was East,
Mistaking for that station blest
Some point nearer sou' sou' west.
The cry was heard anew — "more light!''
When beamed upon our raptured sight
A temple, in whose spacious bound
All of the light long craved was found.
It came not like a meteor flash,
Nor with a fierce dramatic crash,
Nor heralding of horns and drumming,
Saying the Campbells were a coming!
But, answering fraternal claim,
The Campbells that were "coming," came;
The darkness was at once abated,
Geography was vindicated,
And Anno Lucis smiled anew
Such bright effulgency to view.
And old Abiff— Grand Master Hi —
Standing in ghostly presence by,
Vowed he had never seen a place
Endowed with more artistic grace,
Since the great Temple he had built,
At whose completion he was "kilt."
Of course, he said, that "Hall" was bigger,
And cost a rather higher " figger,"
But, as for the convenience pat,
This was just as good as that;
And as for light, this far outshone
All that Master Sol's had known,
For, though wiser than most classes,
He never knew such light as gas is.
Upon the whole, he must, with candor,
Say, that, though Solomon's was grander,
For good old plain Masonic "biz,"
This was full as good as his.
It lacked the gold and costly stuff,
But brass, he thought, was good enough,
Of which we had a quantum suf.
But, 'neath this roof of newer grace,
We'll not ignore the olden place,
Wherein the germ Masonic grew
That we with pride to-day review.
Ah, glorious memories of the past
That in procession hasten fast! —
How rich ye are in work and ritual,
In joke, or speech, or rhyme, or "victual";
Or where the mighty Constantine
Mustered his forces on the scene,
And workingmen of every class
Took the traditionary pass!
We'll not forget the ancient show
Of fresco done by John G. Low,
Nor that dark venerated wall
Which showed, all sides, a waterfall;
We'll not forget the sacred bond,
Which coupons couldn't make more fond,
With those who there with us abode,
Then vanished by the upper road,
In Lodge celestial to appear,
And left us to lament them here.
Whate'er the change which now appears,
We'll not forget those vanished years,
And all that gave to life the vim
Which brighter glories cannot dim.
We dedicate our splendid temple,
With its appurtenances ample,
And pour our corn, and oil, and wine,
Oblation meet for such a shrine.
But not the sounds that, in Judea,
Rang upon the Hebrew ear,
Worry our surrounding neighbors
At the completion of our labors.
Should we outpour our holy fury,
We'd soon expect a call from Drury;
Judge Bates would pass upon our capers,
And all our names get in the papers.
So shall our dedication be
Milder than that in old Judee,
With just a homoeopathic bite
To blunt the edge of appetite, —
A cup of tea the whole to crown
And wash our humble shew-bread down.
Strangers within our gates we boast
From yonder far trans-Mystic coast,
— The Joppa there beyond the tide —
Objects of reverence and pride.
We welcome give them, heart and hand,
To this remote and barren land;
And while they in our councils wait
Ourselves to them we dedicate —
The oil and wine for which supplied
We tributary pour inside —
Perhaps to show, in hours fled,
Chelsea, like Webster, isn't dead.
And, brethren, let us not forget
The admonition, sounding yet,
Which came from the Eternal One
Unto the ears of Solomon:
"Keep my commands and do my will,
And I my promise will fulfil —
My dwelling in your midst to make,
And ne'er abandon or forsake!"
If we give heed to the command,
In safety we shall ever stand;
Our temple be a homo of grace,
God's glory filling all the place.
DESCRIPTION OF NEW TEMPLE, MAY 1909
From New England Craftsman, Vol. IV, No. 8, May 1909, Page 289:
Ever since the destruction of the Masonic Temple in Chelsea, Mass., by the great fire the brethren have been looking forward to the time when they might he in condition to build a new temple. The time is not far distant when the Masonic bodies of Chelsea will be assembled in their own city again and in their own temple. Plans for a handsome new temple have been approved which will be conveniently near the site of the old building destroyed. It will be built of concrete, brick and terra cotta and will cost between $35,000 and $40,000. The building will cover a lot 50x120 feet and will be three stories high. There will be two stores and a public hall on the ground floor. This hall will have a small stage with ante-rooms dressing-rooms and check-rooms and below it in the basement there will be a banquet hall.
Entrance to these halls will be afforded by a separate corridor in one side of the building. At the other side will be the entrance corridor for the Masonic apartments on the second and third floors with an elevator. The temple proper on the second floor will extend to the roof, a distance of twenty-five feet, and will be lighted by a large skylight. There will be commodious lockers, regalia apartments and a handsome smoking-room with a big fireplace, also a banquet hall.
The walls of the building will be made heavy enough to permit of their being carried several feet above the roof, and it is expected to have a roof garden. Throughout the building will be handsomely finished and the terra cotta work outside, including the four large semi-detached Corinthian columns, will be of the finest cream-colored enamel. The temple will have a beam ceiling and in the front there will be placed several German prism-glass windows. The street floor will have a plate glass front.
CORNER STONE LAYING, JULY 1909
From New England Craftsman, Vol. IV, No. 11, August 1909, Page 412:
The corner stone of the Masonic Temple to be erected by the Masons of Chelsea, Mass., was laid Saturday afternoon, July 24th, by Most Worshipful Dana J. Flanders, grand master, and officers of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts. The ceremonies attracted many spectators in addition to the members of the Masonic bodies and other brethren engaged in the duties incident to the occasion. All of the Chelsea Masonic bodies, at the present time, occupy quarters in Masonic Temple at East Boston. At 1.30 o'clock they formed in procession and marched to Chelsea. The line was made up as follows: Ide's military band; Palestine Commandery, K. T., Walter S. Litchfield, Acting Eminent Commander; William Parkman Commandery, K. T., Albert B. Dunham, Eminent Commander; Napthali Council R. and S. Masters, M. J. Pleschinger, Thrice Illustrious Master; Royal Arch Chapter of the Shekinah, Alfred Anderson, High Priest; Star of Bethlehem Lodge, A. F & A. M., George H. Eaton, Master; and Robert Lash Lodge, A. F. & A. M., George A. Clough, Master. Reaching Chelsea they were met by a detail of police. The procession continued to the Elks building where the Grand Lodge was waiting. March was immediately resumed to the site of the new building where the ceremonies were held. The exercises began with the singing of an original hymn written by Brother William R. Rider by the Bostonian Quartet. When this was done William Martin, chairman of the Chelsea Masonic hall association, advanced and requested the Grand Master to lay the corner stone in accordance with the usages of the craft.
Grand Master Flanders, in reply, said that it had been the custom from time immemorial for the Masonic fraternity to participate in such ceremonies as it had been called upon to perform for the craft in Chelsea, in connection with the rearing of structures fnr patriotic, historical or religious societies, and be readily responded to the request. He paid a tribute to the energy of the Masons of Chelsea, complimenting them on the undaunted spirit shown in so soon recovering from the blow by which they were stricken.
There was responsive reading of the Scriptures by the grand lodge and Grand Chaplain Rider, who at the conclusion invoked the blessing of the Great Architect of the universe. Acting Grand Treas. Storer, read the contents of the box to be deposited in the receptacle prepared for it.
Those who took part in spreading the cement were the Grand Master, acting Deputy Grand Master, Senior Grand Warden, acting Junior Grand Warden, chairman Martin of the Masonic Hall Association, chairman Gould of the building committee, Worshipful Master Eaton of Star of Bethlehem lodge and Worshipful Master Clough of Robert Lash Lodge.
The application of jewels was made by Acting Deputy Grand Master Odell, Senior Grand Warden Johnson and Acting Junior Grand Warden Soule, with the libation of corn, wine and oil by the three in turn, the public grand honors being given.
The Grand Master pronounced the corner stone well laid, true and trusty.
Grand Chaplain Rider pronounced the invocation, the working tools were presented to Edward 1. Wilson, the architect, and Grand Marshal Ballard made the proclamation.
An important feature of the ceremony was the able and instructive address of Grand Chaplain Rev. William H. Rider. D. D.. whose grand voice reached the ears of the most remote spectator. Brother Rider said:
"The passerby might ask why there was such an assemblage for the laying of a corner stone of a structure not intended as a house of worship or place of industry, but instead to be occupied by Masons for social and fraternal purposes. Life was given for the best unto the best," he declared, "and the Masons developed that life and character, for they were under obligations to perform the good that God intended them to do, to move to a grander and a higher life. There was a sacredness and nobility of purpose in this."
"What the craft has undertaken in Chelsea." he said, "was a credit to the lodges and associate bodies. May the building," he said, "develop a larger manhood and greater citizenship." He thought such assemblages as that of the day were more significant of the sentiments of the republic than all the tariff speeches that could be made.
He made a happy allusion to the Elks for granting the use of their hall to the Grand Lodge and said that the act had the touch of fraternity in it.
At the conclusion of the address a special hymn to the tune of "America" was sung anil the benediction pronounced by the Grand Chaplain. The Grand Lodge was escorted to Elks Hall and the Masonic bodies marched to Masonic ball in East Boston. About 400 Masons were in line. The movement to build a Masonic Temple in Chelsea was started several months before the lire. It was suggested by Richard Hums, a companion of the Chapter of the Shekinah, at a banquet given by the officers of that body January 29, 1908, as a compliment to Raymond T. Sewell who was at that time High Priest of the Chapter. Companion Hums said he believed that there was no better way to promote the cause of Masonry in Chelsea than by erecting a Masonic temple. This sentiment was warmly endorsed by Martin J. Pleschinger and enthusiastically supported by every companion present.
A committee of three was appointed then riinl there to cany out the suggestion. The subject was brought to the attention of all the bodies and committees to facilitate the undertaking appointed.
While the matter was being considered the great fire of April 15 destroyed the Masonic lodge rooms, including all furnishings and paraphernalia, also the homes of more than 100 Masons. Through the courtesy of the Masons of East LSoston the free use of their temple was tendered and gratefully accepted. It becoming the duty of the trustees to furnish new quarters they immediately took up the consideration of the mailer and after careful investigation of the subject called a mass meeting of the Masons in G. A. R. Hall on the evening of Sept. 4, 1908, at which a proposition for rental was presented. During the discussion a decided sentiment was developed in favor of the erection of the temple for themselves. Their action culminated in plans for a temple. Contract-were signed May 21st and ground broken May 24th of the present year.
The building committee are: James Gould, Frank Weymouth and James Harrower.
The total cost of the temple, outside of furnishing, including land, will come within the original estimate of $55,000.
The trustees of the Masonic hall are Geo. H. Eaton, Geo. A. Clough, Alfred Anderson, Martin J. Plcschinger and Walter S. Litchfield.
HALL DEDICATION, JANUARY 1912
From New England Craftsman, Vol. VII, No. 5, February 1912, Page 143:
Chelsea Masonic Temple
New Masonic Temple, Chelsea, Mass.
The dedication of the new Masonic Temple in Chelsea, Mass., Wednesday, January 18th, is another step in the progress of that city from the ruins of the great fire of 1908 to the growing beauty of a new city with handsome buildings and convenient homes which now greet the eyes on every side. Masonry received a heavy blow by the fire for not only was the Masonic Hall with its contents destroyed but a large number of the brethren were cramped by personal loss. With commendable courage the brethren determined that a new and more beautiful Temple should be erected for Masonic use. that new Temple has been dedicated by Grand Master Everett C. Benton and other officers of the Grand Lodge. The grand officers were conducted to the hall by a committee representing Robert Lash and Star of Bethlehem Lodges.
As the procession of grand officers entered the lodge room, Grand Marshal George C. Thacher announced "The Most Worshipful Grand Master and officers of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts."
Grand Master Benton was received by Worshipful Master Alfred W. Martin of Star of Bethlehem Lodge, and responded to the welcome extended.
Accompanying Grand Master Benton were the following officers of the grand lodge who assisted in the dedicatory ceremonies. Deputy Grand Master A. F. Dow, Senior Grand Warden Harry P. Ballard, Junior Grand Warden Herbert F. French, Grand Marshal George C. Thacher, Grand Tyler George W. Chester, Grand Chaplain Rev. R. Perry Bush, Senior Grand Deacon Charles E. Hatfield, Junior Grand Deacon Harry G. Pollard, Grand Stewards Albert C. Ashton, Edmund S. Young, Claude H. Clark and Frank E. Buxton.
Others accompanying the grand master were Past Grand Masters Dana J. Flanders and J. Albert Blake, Past Deputy Grand Masters W. H. L. Odell, W. H. Rider and L. C. Southard, Past Grand Wardens Oliver A. Roberts, W. H. H. Soule, F. W. Mead, W. M. Belcher, Charles E. Phipps, Charles S. Robertson, District Deputy Grand Masters Roscoe Learned, Charles A. Esty and Robert W. Oliver and E. G. Brown, Grand Secretary Thomas W. Davis, Grand Lecturer Fred L. Putnam.
Grand Master Benton then proceeded with the work of dedication and following a selection by the quartet appropriate to the occasion, prayer was offered by acting Grand Chaplain Rev. W. H. H. Rider.
Worshipful Master Martin then addressed the Grand Master, stating that if the building should meet the approval of the Grand Lodge it should be dedicated to Masonic purposes agreeably to ancient form. After an examination of the temple by the proper officers wine and oil were then poured upon the lodge according to ancient Masonic custom, and by direction of the Grand Master, the Grand Marshal then proclaimed that the temple had been solemnly dedicated to the purposes of Masonry.
Grand Master Benton paid a high compliment to the Masons of Chelsea for the great work they have done in building the new temple. Rev. R. Perry Bush, D. D., delivered the closing address paying tribute to the loyalty of the Chelsea brethren that had overcome all difficulty and provide a beautiful and convenient home for the craft.