- 1 MECHANICS' LODGE
- 2 REFERENCES IN GRAND LODGE PROCEEDINGS
Chartered By: Charles A. Welch
Charter Date: 03/12/1879 1879-26
Precedence Date: 01/18/1878
Mount Sugar Loaf merged here, 11/14/1989.
- Richard N. Oakman, Jr., 1878, 1879; SN
- W. D. Russell, 1880, 1881
- Robert M. Starbuck, 1882, 1883
- Frederick A. Perry, 1884
- Hiram O. Smith, 1885-1889
- Charles W. Hosmer, 1889
- John H. Starbuck, 1890, 1891
- Lucas J. March, 1892, 1893
- Thomas B. Ross, 1894, 1895
- Enoch G. Best, 1896
- Charles W. Schuler, 1897, 1898
- Frank P. Douglas, 1899, 1900
- Frank D. Jones, 1901, 1902
- Norman P. Farwell, 1903; SN
- Charles N. Sumner, 1904, 1905
- Raymond E. Farwell, 1906
- Herbert T. Maynard, 1907
- James D. Coy, 1908
- Frank G. Roeder, 1909, 1910
- John W. Haigis, 1911, 1912
- J. Louis March, Jr., 1913
- William A. Burnham, 1914, 1915
- Walter H. Ray, Jr., 1916, 1917
- Arthur H. Porter, 1918, 1919; Mem
- Walter J. Rist, 1920, 1921
- Clarence A. Flagg, 1922
- John C. Yauch, 1923
- Wallace B. Marston, 1924
- Dana C. Salmon, 1925
- J. Martin Schneider, 1926
- Edward J. Schneider, 1927
- Rolland W. Ross, 1928
- Charles W. Higinbotham, 1929
- Donald R. Smith, 1930
- Herbert M. Alvord, 1931
- William C. Schneider, 1932
- Marvin J. Haigis, 1933
- Warren F. White, 1934
- Harold H. Hosley, 1935
- Lester G. Burnham, 1936
- Beauford R. Duke, 1937
- Harold H. Tibbetts, 1938
- Joseph L. Hyland, 1939
- Richard D. Smith, 1940
- John G. Burnham, 1941
- George O. Fuller, 1942
- John S. Metzler, 1943
- Winslow C. Wentworth, 1944; N
- Roy D. Graves, 1945
- Neal M. Allis, 1946; N
- Camille Parker, 1947
- Adam Frank, 1948
- Frederick E. Croutworst, 1949
- Walter R. Marsh, 1950
- Austin J. Blood, 1951
- William F. Patterson, 1952
- Olva Terio, 1953
- William E. Koch, 1954
- Max M. Schoch, 1955
- Richard O. Guy, 1956
- Paul F. Guy, 1957
- Robert A. Cade, 1958
- Harry A. Warshawsky, 1959
- James Thurston, Jr., 1960
- William G. Gardner, 1961
- Robert E. Wheeler, 1962
- Nicholas Prokovich, 1963
- Andrew S. Karpinski, 1964
- Roy F. Webler, 1965
- Donald E. Strange, 1966, 1989; N
- James T. Lonergan, 1967, 1978; N
- Harvey R. Fleming, 1968
- Archie R. Nahman, 1969, 1977, 1997; PDDGM
- Robert H. Lord, 1970
- Edward G. Smith, 1971, 1972
- John W. Pride, Jr., 1973, 1974
- Donald B. Scott, 1975, 1976
- William G. Gardner, III, 1979, 1983
- Kenneth A. Potter, 1980
- William F. Hebert, 1981, 1982
- Roy P. White, 1984
- James J. Whalen, Jr., 1985, 1986
- Thomas J. Mierzwa, 1987
- Paul K. Prokopas, 1988
- Richard P. Rosenthal, 1990
- David L. Bell, 1991; PDDGM
- Roland S. Packard, 1992, 1993
- John A. Letourneau, 1994-1996
- Jere M. Lively, 1998-2000
- Wayne H. Comstock, 2001
- Martin E. Glaser, 2002
- Kirke E. Henshaw, 2003, 2004
REFERENCES IN GRAND LODGE PROCEEDINGS
- Petition for Dispensation: 1878
- Petition for Charter: 1879
- Consolidation Petition (with Mount Sugar Loaf Lodge): 1989
- Consolidation Petition (with Bay State and Harmony Lodge): 2004
VISITS BY GRAND MASTER
- 1879 (Welch; Constitution of Lodge and installation)
- 1924 (Ferrell; described in 1923 history below)
- 1928 (Simpson; 50th Anniversary; Special Communication)
- 1953 (Roy; 75th Anniversary; Special Communication)
- 1978 (Melanson; Centenary and hall dedication; Special Communication)
- 1989 (Ames; Consolidation; Special Communication)
- 1994 (Lovering; reception for Junior Grand Warden Donald B. Scott)
- 2004 (Hicks; Consolidation; Special Communication)
- 1928 (50th Anniversary History, 1928-101; see below)
- 1953 (75th Anniversary History, 1953-97; see below)
- 1978 (Centenary History, 1978-143; see below)
50TH ANNIVERSARY HISTORY, MAY 1928
From Proceedings, Page 1928-101:
By Bro. Charles Clayton Fiske.
In the fall and winter of 1877-1878 we find there were about thirty Master Masons residing in the village of Turners Falls. Some of them were members of Bay State Lodge of Montague and others belonged to Republican Lodge of Greenfield and still others were members of Lodges located far from our little village.
Before going into the early history of Mechanics Lodge, a few lines may well he used to give a brief outline of the affairs of the town at that time. The first work of construction was started in 1867; so at the time our Lodge was instituted the town was only twenty years old, and compared with the present town with its many industries it was, indeed, in its infancy. The entire population of the Turners Falls precinct at that time totaled about 2000. The principal mills were: the John Russell Cutlery Company, the Keith Paper Company, the Montague Mill, the Turners Falls Pulp Mill, and the Clark & Chapman Machine Company. At that time there was no trolley line running into Turners Falls, and the only way to get to Montague or Greenfield in the evening was by team; so the question of transportation probably figured to a great extent in influencing the Masons of the town to start a Lodge here.
At a communication of Bay State Lodge held January 14, 1878, a letter from R. N. Oakman, Jr. and others was read asking Bay State Lodge to grant them permission to form a Lodge in Turners Falls. Their request was granted, and the first official record of importance is the receipt by the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts of a petition for the formation of a Lodge at, Turners Falls to be known as "Mechanics Lodge." This petition was dated January 18, 1878 and was signed by twenty-seven Master Masons residing in Montague. These signers were all prominent business men of the town, and many fit' the names are familiar even to the younger generation of Masons. They were:
- R. N. Oakman, Jr., Selma Fraternal Lodge No. 27, Selma, Ala.
- D. F. Ripley, Bay State Lodge, Montague, Mass.
- L. E. Fales, Eastern Star Lodge No. 55, Franklin, O.
- C. C. Crammer, Bay State Lodge, Montague, Mass.
- George Hance, Acacia Lodge No. 20, Dover, N. J.
- F. I. Webster, Bay State Lodge, Montague, Mass.
- C. E. Craw, Pacific Lodge, Amherst, Mass.
- William Howard, Manchester Lodge No. 73, South Manchester, Conn.
- John Jamison, Bay State Lodge, Montague, Mass.
- C. W. Hosmer, Bay State Lodge, Montague, Mass.
- W. H. P. Gilmore, Bay State Lodge, Montague, Mass.
- George F. Adams, Republican Lodge, Greenfield, Mass.
- George Starbuck, Republican Lodge, Greenfield, Mass.
- George P. Peabody, Bay State Lodge, Montague, Mass.
- S. E. Ripley, Orange Lodge, Orange, Mass.
- H. C. Putnam, Republican Lodge, Greenfield, Mass.
- R. M. Starbuck, Republican Lodge, Greenfield, Mass.
- Nathaniel Holmes, Republican Lodge, Greenfield, Mass.
- E. M. Perry, Republican Lodge, Greenfield, Mass.
- Samuel Goodnow, Harmony Lodge, Northfield, Mass.
- J. F. Bartlett, Bay State Lodge, Montague, Mass.
- George E. Chapman, Bay State Lodge, Montague, Mass.
- Anson Cobb, Harmony Lodge, Northfield, Mass.
- M. L. Bartlett, Oxford Lodge No. 18, Norway, Me.
- F. A. Perry, Republican Lodge, Greenfield, Mass.
- John J. Hawkes, Unknown
- A. O. Wyman, King Solomon's Temple Lodge No. 45, Bellows Falls, Vermont
No record can he found about the installation of the first officers to their respective stations, but some ol' the older members of both Bay State Lodge and Mechanics Lodge believe that the officers of Bay State Lodge came to Turners Falls and opened a Lodge in the temporary rooms where the new Lodge was to meet and installed the elected officers.
All necessary steps having been taken, the first meeting was held on February 12, 1878, in what was known as the Clapp building at the corner of Seventh Street and Avenue A. The officers were. R. N. Oakman, Jr.. Worshipful Master; C. E. Craw. Senior Warden; A. O. Wyman, Junior Warden; L. E. Fales, Treasurer; F. I. Webster, Secretary; D. F. Ripley. Senior Deacon; R. M. Starbuck, Junior Deacon: Nathaniel Holmes, Chaplain; George Starbuck, Marshal; C. C. Crammer, Senior Steward: C. W. Hosmer, Junior Steward; Andrew J. Carry, Tyler.
Only two of these first officers of our Lodge are still living — George Starbuck, whom we all know, is still a member of our Lodge and attends the meetings frequently. Rugged and healthy at the age of seventy-eight, he is the active president of the firm of George Starbuck & Sons. Incorporated. C. C. Crammer is still living, I am told, at Bellows Falls, Vermont. He dimitted from Mechanics Lodge some years ago and I have been unable to learn much concerning his present circumstances. However, I am sure that Mechanics Lodge and all its members wish him many years of health and happiness. (Note: News of the death of Bro. Crammer was received after this paper was written.)
Steps for procuring suitable rooms were taken at once and a proposal from Brother Benjamin Fay, a member of Bay State Lodge, was accepted. Just what his proposal was the records do not show, but we do know that he erected a three-story brick block on Avenue A which has since been known as the Fay Block. The top floor was built to meet the requirements of the Lodge and a lease was taken for a period of ten years.
One of the first purchases of the new Lodge was the Holy Bible which was bought from the American Bible Society at a cost of $13.10. This same book has adorned the altar up to a recent year when a new one was given to Mechanics Lodge.
Many of the fittings and furnishings were donated or made by the officers. The first altar, which is still carefully preserved and will occupy the center of the Lodge Room on our Fiftieth Anniversary celebration, was made at the John Russell Cutlery Company by Brother Henry A. Axtell under the direction of Worshipful R. N. Oakman, Jr. The batons which are still carried by the senior and junior wardens and the marshal are of the finest ebony with solid ivory tips. These were also made at the Cutlery. The marble slabs which still adorn the pedestals were given by Brother A. A. Runkin of Greenfield.
Besides the necessary details of procuring quarters and furniture the Lodge received thirteen applications during the year they were working under Dispensation. Twelve of these were accepted. The application of William P. Crocker was the first to be received and he had the honor of being the first to receive the degrees in Mechanics Lodge. Brother Crocker was a civil engineer who came to Turners Falls in 1867 when there were but four or five houses here, and superintended the laying out of the canal and factory sites and later laid out the streets for the future city. The first year having passed by, we find that a Charter was granted by the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge Of Massachusetts signed by Most Worshipful Charles Alfred Welch, and on April 1, 1879, the Lodge had moved into their new quarters in the Fay Block, and a meeting of the Grand Lodge was held with the following officers:
- M. W. Charles Alfred Welch, Grand Master
- R. W. Abraham H. Howland, Jr., Deputy Grand Master
- R. W. Lucius W. Lovell, Senior Grand Warden
- R. W. Sereno D. Nickerson, as Junior Grand Warden
- R. W. Tracy P. Cheever, Recording Grand Secretary
- R. W. William D. Coolidge, as Grand Chaplain
- W. F. Lyman Winship, Grand Marshal
- W. D. C. Bangs, Senior Grand Steward
- Bro. William E. Dudley, Junior Grand Steward
- Bro. Frank E. Jones, Tyler
Mechanics Lodge in Turners Falls was duly constituted by the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Massachusetts. The officers were then installed by the Most Worshipful Grand Master in their respective stations, and the rooms Were formally dedicated to Freemasonry.
Thus we find the first Master of our Lodge approaching the end of his second year in the East with a Lodge established in suitable quarters, duly constituted by the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, and having a Charter empowering them to work. Worshipful Brother Oakman must have stepped from the East to become our first Past Master with a feeling of great satisfaction. Much can be told of Worshipful Brother Oakman as a man and a Mason; but as he returns many times to Mechanics Lodge, I have kept his history to be given later.
The next Master, Worshipful William D. Russell, who is now our senior living Past Master, has a most remarkable Masonic history. lie was raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason, in Mechanics Lodge on January 17, 1879. The following May, at a special election held by permission of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge, he was unanimously elected Senior Warden of Mechanics Lodge to fill a vacancy caused by the leaving of Brother C. E. Craw, who was obliged to move West. Brother Russell served from May to November as Senior Warden and was elected Master on November 25, serving for the years 1880 and 1881. Brother Russell has the further distinction of being the youngest man to be installed Muster of Mechanics Lodge. He was installed by the retiring Master, Worshipful R. N. Oakman, on December 19, 1879, and observed his twenty-eighth birthday on December 28 of that year.
Worshipful R. M. Starbuck was the next Master. He occupied the Oriental Chair during the years of 1882 and 1883. It was while he was Master that the chairs for the three first officers were presented to the Lodge. Brother E. C. Coy gave the Master's chair; Worshipful R. N. Oakman, the Senior Warden's; and F. I. Webster, the Junior Warden's. Worshipful Brother Starbuck was the first to really think of the future need of records and memorials, and it was at his suggestion that the pictures of all Charter members were secured and hung in the Lodge-room. I am told that it is to his thoughtfulness we are indebted for the saving of the first altar which he had stored away.
Worshipful Fred A. Perry who served as Master for 1884 and 1885 seems to have had two quiet years, so far as history goes. These were busy years, however, as the Lodge was growing rapidly. Both Brother R. M. Starbuck and Brother F. A. Perry were called from the ranks of the Past Masters within the past year.
The next Master was Worshipful Charles W. Hazelton who served for the years 1886 and 1887. He is next to Brother Russell in the ranks of living Bast Masters. Worshipful Brother Hazelton came to Turners Falls with Brother Wm. P. Crocker in 1867 at the age of nineteen. He was just starting in to learn surveying and engineering. Since then, he has always made his home in Turners Falls, taking an active part in developing and building up the town. He has always been interested in the Congregational Church, acting as clerk for a number of years. In 1885 and 1886 he served as Representative from this district in the House of Representatives at Boston, and in 1900 he was State Senator. At the present time, he is president Of the Crocker National Bank.
While serving as Master for the years 1888 and 1889, Right Worshipful Hiram O. Smith was to have the distinction of receiving our first Master on his first official visit to Mechanics Lodge as District Deputy Grand Master for the Thirteenth Masonic District. For the work of the evening, Charles William Schuler was presented and raised to the sublime degree of master Mason. Here were three District Deputies — Right Worshipful R. N. Oakman, the visiting Deputy for the Thirteenth Masonic District; the Master, Worshipful Hiram O. Smith who was past District Deputy Grand Master for the old Fourteenth Masonic District; and the candidate, Brother Schuler who was later appointed Deputy for the Thirteenth Masonic District. Right Worshipful Brother Smith died on May 13, 1900. He was the first Past Master to be called by the Great Creator. The Lodge attended the funeral in a body and followed his remains to the cemetery in Shelburne Falls, where the last Masonic rites were performed by the Connecticut Valley Commandery.
The next few years were apparently years of growth with very few events of historical interest. Worshipful Charles W. Hosmer served one year as Master in 1890, Worshipful John H. Starbuck in 1891, and Worshipful Lucas J. March in 1892 and 1893. In the records of the annual meeting of 1893, the membership is placed at 100 showing that the officers had been busy receiving applications and conferring degrees. Up to this time the hall had been lit by kerosene lumps, and now we find a committee appointed to see about having electric lights installed, but nothing was done for several years.
Worshipful Thomas B. Ross served for two years — 1894 and 1895, and Worshipful Enoch G. Best for 1896 — all three years being exceptionally busy. I have been told that Worshipful Brother Ross was exceptionally proficient in the Masonic ritual, and during these years Mechanics Lodge was usually complimented by the Grand Lecturer for its perfect work at the exemplifications.
In November of 1896 we find the first Master again in the Lodge, this time for the purpose of installing Charles William Schuler as Master. Brother Schuler had previously served Mechanics Lodge as Secretary for three years from 1898 to 1901, after which he was elected Senior Deacon, he served in the various chairs until he was elected Master.
During Brother Schuler's term we find the Lodge mourning the death of three of its prominent members. Dr. Erastus C. Coy died December 28, 1897. Besides being an ardent Mason, Dr. Coy was the friend and physician of practically every family in town, To his generosity the Lodge is indebted for the Oriental Chair which is still in the East. Brother Henry C. Putnam, who died January 13, 1898, was a Charter member and was one of the active workers during the formation of the new Lodge, and Brother Charles E. Chapin, who was called to serve in the Spanish War when he was Junior Warden, died at Camp Wikoff, Long Island, on August 28, 1898.
After serving as Master of Mechanics Lodge for two successive years, Worshipful Brother Schuler joined the ever increasing ranks of the Past Masters. However, his Masonic activities hail only commenced, for during the next ten years he served in various offices of the Chapter, Council, and Commandery, and also took an active part in (he affairs of Mechanics Lodge. In 1909 he was appointed District Deputy Grand Master for the old Thirteenth Masonic District, serving for two years. In 1913 he was elected Junior Grand Warden. This office entitled him to become a Permanent Member of the Grand Lodge. Right Worshipful Brother Schuler was crowned an honorary member of the Supreme Council thirty-third degree Mason on September 19, 1916, at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Worshipful Frank P. Douglas was the next Master to occupy the East. He served for two years, 1899 and 1900. The portrait of Brother Charles K. Chapin was presented to Mechanics Lodge by Brother Morse, and was hung in the Lodge room by Worshipful Bro. Douglas. In 1899, just prior to the visitation, the Dodge procured new regalia for the officers. Besides serving as Master, Worshipful Brother Douglas was Tyler from 1910 to 1918, and again from 1923 to 1926.
Worshipful Frank D. Jones was the next to occupy the East, instructing the Craft in a most efficient manner for two years — 1901 and 1902. He was followed by Worshipful Norman P. Farwell in 1903.
Although Worshipful Brother Farwell served as Master only one year, he was destined to give Mechanics Lodge many years of valuable service, for in August, 1907, Joseph Henry Batten, who had carefully observed the proceedings of the Lodge for twelve years, died after a short illness. Brother Farwell was elected to fill this office, and served faithfully until he was elected Treasurer in 1913. In this office he has proven most efficient, and we all trust he will sit at the right of the Worshipful Master for many years to come. It is safe to say that Brother Farwell has served more years than any other officer the Lodge has had up to the present time. Starting as Junior Steward in 1895 under Worshipful E. G. Best, he occupied each of the chairs with untiring zeal until he was rewarded by being elected Master. This means that Brother Farwell has given thirty years of service.
Worshipful Charles N. Sumner and Raymond E. Farwell occupied the East for the next three years — Brother Sumner for 1904-5, and Brother Farwell, 1906. It was during these years that the Lodge began to look around for larger and better quarters. Committees were appointed to confer with the Turners Falls Company regarding the leasing of Pawtucket Hall for a Lodge-room, but these plans did not go through as the Brothers felt that it was going to cost more than they could afford, to make the necessary changes. It was about this time that the first Annual Charity Ball was held and a permanent Charity Fund started.
In 1905 the Lodge lost another Charter member when Brother Lowell F. Fales died on August 17. Besides being a Charter member, Brother Fales was the first Treasurer of the Lodge, serving three years, 1878 to 1881.
The events from 1900 on hardly seem like history as many of our members are already familiar with them as we are with the next Master, Worshipful James D. Coy who served as Master in 1907 and 1908.
During these years the scythe of time cut down many of the members — both young and old. First, Worshipful Charles W. Hosmer was laid to rest in September 1906; then Otis M. Farwell, and James G. Freeman who died in May 1907. In August of 1907 Joseph Henry Batten died at the age of forty-one, followed by Brother Charles A. Wheeler in September. But the great loss came in February of 1908 with the death of Right Worshipful Richard Nickerson Oakman, our first master.
Tin' beautiful memorial in the records of Mechanics Lodge and the testimonial penned by Brothers W. H. P. Gilmore, Porter Farwell, and Joseph F. Bartlett are evidence of the high regard of the Lodge toward its first master.
This testimonial, which was spread on the records, deserves a place here in this history of our Lodge.
Brother Oakman began his business career as Bookkeeper in a Bank at Kenosha, Wisconsin, going from there to Selma, Alabama, where he was elected treasurer of a large coal mining company. lie afterwards spent several years in the South, being appointed deputy collector of customs at Charleston, S. C.
In 1872 he came North and assisted in organizing the Crocker National Bank and Crocker Institute for Savings, being elected cashier of the former and treasurer of the latter. The Reporter, in commenting on the death of Brother Oakman said. "Mr. Oakman, 'Dick' as he was lovingly called by a host of good men and true, when be was a young man with us here, was a splendid specimen of manhood in many shades of his excellent character. When the hard times of '73 came, the merchants in the village were in a sorry plight and the manufacturers not far behind. During all these bitter days Mr. Oakman had a smile for all financial sufferers and a little note was often discounted more on the maker's honor than on the signature." In 1874 he resigned from the banks and became treasurer and general manager of the John Russell Cutlery Company.
In 1889 he resigned this position and spent the following three years in Europe engaged in gas furnace engineering. On his return to America, he brought to Greenfield the Towle Silver Manufacturing Company. In 1900 he removed to Brooklyn, New York, where he lived until the time of his death.
Brother Oakman's Masonic career began in 1868 when he joined Selma Fraternal Lodge No. 27, [A.] F. & A. M. of Selma, Alabama. Initiated October 11, passed November 4, raised November 18, 1868, dimitted January 7, 1878. He was exalted in St John's Chapter No. 28; R. A. M. on February 10, 1869, dimitted January 28, 1878, and was elected a member of Titus Strong Council January 6, 1879. He was elected a member of Franklin Chapter R. A. M. by dimit from St. John's Chapter No. 28 on May 22. 1879. He was a moving spirit in organizing and procuring the Charter of Mechanics Lodge and was elected its first Master.
His application for the Temple Degrees was received by Connecticut Valley Commandery December 17, 1878, elected January 7, 1879, received the Red Cross January 21st and Knighted March 18, 1879, elected S. W. December 6, 1881, and Em. Commander November 13, 1883. He was also District Deputy for the 13th Masonic District. At the time of his death he was a member of this Lodge, Franklin Royal Arch Chapter, Titus Strong Council, and Conn. Valley Commandery.
This is a brief history of the Masonic career of Brother Oakman, yet, beyond all was the man and Mason. For 20 years every member of Mechanics Lodge received a white leather apron — his gift. For 20 consecutive years he installed the officers of this Lodge. For 40 years he wore the lambskin of Masonry, and during all that time, in success and adversity, not a spot of selfishness soiled its purity.
He was faithful and conscientious, modest as to his own merits, refined in taste, and enjoyed the surroundings of literature and art. lie loved his home and home life, and for those dear to him he labored to the end.
Judged as a man among men and a Mason, he was a broad minded, noble hearted man. The world is richer for his living. The world is poorer by bis death. Into that mystic realm of shadow, across that shining threshold has gone our friend and Brother.
Funeral services were held in Brooklyn February 18, 1908, and the following day the remains were interred in the family lot at Montague. There, with floral tributes from friends and Masonic bodies, by gentle loving hands of his own kindred, he was laid at rest.
Worshipful Frank G. Boeder was the next to !>e installed Master. He served for 1909 and 1910. It was his privilege to receive Right Worshipful Charles W. Schuler as District Deputy Grand Master for the Thirteenth Masonic District on his two official visits to Mechanics Lodge. It was through his efforts in campaigning throughout the Stale that Right Worshipful Brother Schuler was elected to the office of Junior Warden of the Grand Lodge. About this time it became apparent to the members that new quarters were necessary, and a committee was appointed to negotiate with the Crocker Institution for Savings regarding a lease of the top floor of the Bank Block. This committee reported at the annual meeting of 1910 and it was voted to take a lease of these rooms for a period of ten years. The work of remodeling and fitting them for the Lodge was accomplished in about two months.
Worshipful John W. Haigis was one of the leaders in the movement for the new quarters, and was the first Master to occupy the East in our present rooms. He served as Master for 1911 and 1912, giving freely of his time along with his other duties. He was always prominent in the affairs of the town, serving as town treasurer and tax collector for four years, from 1903 to 1906; chairman of the Board of Assessors in 1907, and water commissioner from 1910 to 1915, and president of the Turners Falls Hoard of Trade. Besides these he was sent as Representative to the General Court from 1909 to 1912; State Senator in 1915 and 1916, and again from 1923 to 1926. While in the Legislature, he represented President Coolidge, who was president of the Senate at that time, at the Massachusetts Day Exercises held in Los Angeles, California. During the World War be acted as food administrator for Franklin County under Herbert Hoover. He also served as chairman of the Coal Investigating Commission, and the Commission on Motor Laws. Since moving to Greenfield lie has been prominent in the affairs of that city, serving as president of the Greenfield Chamber of Commerce, chairman of the Franklin County Red Cross, president of the Franklin County Hospital, and the Franklin County Agricultural Society. At the present time be is publisher and proprietor of the Greenfield Recorder, and president of the Franklin County Trust Company.
During 1913 Worshipful J. Louis March, Jr. occupied the Oriental Chair, directing the Craft in a pleasing manner. His knowledge of the Masonic ritual is well known to all, and he is usually called upon to deliver the charge to the candidates in the third degree. In January of 1913, Franklin I. Webster, one of the Charter members and our first secretary, was laid to rest.
Worshipful William A. Burnham next took up the duties of Master and watched over the affairs of the Lodge faithfully for two years, 1914 and 1915. This was at the start of the World War, and the whole country was in a turmoil of uncertainty as to the outcome. Brother Burnham was taken from our midst on October 1. 1922 at the age of fifty-one.
Worshipful Walter H. Ray, Jr., who was Master in 1916 and 1917, ranks with the younger Masters which the Lodge has had. The United States had declared war with Germany and twenty-four members of Mechanics Lodge left to enter the service. So far as we know, the following brothers served:
- Ray F. Dena
- John M. Hood
- Walter S. Hood
- John J. Hoyle
- Dana C. Salmon
- Ralph H. Smith
- Fred H. Houston
- Frank C. Keegan
- Frank S. Sawyer
- Park M. Williams
- Edward J. Schneider
- Wilbur C. Caldwell
- William H. Hoyle
- Arthur E. Tuttle
- Richard C. Tippett
- S. Fred Kerslake, Jr.
- Charles E. Bankwitz
- Willard A. Haskell
- John J. Matthews
- Chester W. Richason
- A. Hammond Rist, Jr.
- Earle W. Goman
- Herbert M. Alvord
- Leander C. Hood
Right Worshipful Arthur H. Porter was installed Master on November 27, 1917, and occupied the East two years — 1918 and 1919 in a most dignified manner. Toward the end of his second year a reception was given in honor of the Brothers who had been in the service. As a remembrance of the occasion, each returning Brother was presented with a Masonic pin. In 1923 and 1924 Worshipful Brother Porter was chosen by the Most Worshipful Grand Master as his Deputy for the Fourteenth Masonic District.
Worshipful Walter J. Rist was Master in 1920 and 1921. He followed Right Worshipful Brother Porter. This is his own way of putting it. We have all heard him say that he followed Brother Porter through the chairs in Mechanics Lodge, then later followed him around the District as District Deputy Grand Marshal. A farewell reception was given to Worshipful Brother Rist the night before he left for Davenport, Iowa, where he is now attending a school for chiropractics. Two parts of the Lodge work "Ristie" especially enjoyed were: first, taking the part of Jubelum in the third degree, and second, "putting on a feed." During Brother Rist's years, the Lodge lost four Charter members — George Hance, who died March 5, 1920; W. H. P. Gilmore on August 6, 1921; John Jamison, December 6, 1921; and Danforth F. Ripley on October 28, 1921.
Worshipful Clarence A. Flagg. who was Master one year (1922), said at the annual meeting, "I do not choose to run," thus setting an example which all Masters have followed since. Tn the spring of 1922 it was voted to rent the use of the Lodge-rooms to the Turners Falls Chapter, O. E. S. which was being formed at that time.
Worshipful John C. Yauch in 1923, and Worshipful Wallace B. Marston in 1924, are both to be commended for the fine work which they did. On the occasion of the District Deputy's visit in 1924, the Lodge had the honor and pleasure of entertaining Most Worshipful Dudley H. Ferrell, Grand Master of Masons in Massachusetts, who addressed the Brothers in the banquet hall.
Worshipful Dana C. Salmon, Master in 1925, was the first veteran of the World War to serve as Master of Mechanics Lodge. He was also one of the youngest to be installed, being twenty-nine years old.
Worshipful J. Martin Schneider was the next Master. "Mart" was Secretary for nine long years, and finally decided to retire, but stepped from the Secretary's desk to the Junior Warden's chair. He had a busy year as Master in 1926. First, the question of rebuilding the Lodge-rooms came up, and after much planning and discussion the project was turned down as too expensive. Later Worshipful Brother Schneider presented five Past Masters' jewels to the Past Masters who had never received them, so that now all Past Masters have a jewel presented them by the Lodge.
Righl Worshipful Geo. W. Halligan was voted an honorary member of Mechanics Lodge on April 13, 1926 — the first and only honorary member the Lodge has. It was during this year that Mrs. Cora E. Ray presented Mechanics Lodge with a handsome bible as a memorial of our late Brother Walter Harris Kay.
Worshipful Edward J. Schneider. Master in 1927, was the second World War veteran to reach the East. During his year the new gas stove was put in the kitchen, so the Lodge is now well equipped to handle a large banquet. The altar which had become somewhat worn was rebuilt and recovered. The expense of the labor and the material was given by Brother Albert R. Smith. During this year the Lodge mourned the loss of three of its oldest Past Masters — Worshipful Robert M. Starbuck, Worshipful Enoch G. Best, and Worshipful Fred A. Perry.
Now we arrive at the Half Century Mark, with Worshipful Holland W. Ross serving as master. Brother Ross was installed Master by "Worshipful Brother Uncle Tom Ross," and started right in to make this a banner year. Already twelve applications for the degrees have been received, and with the fiftieth anniversary celebration it certalnly promises to be a year Long remembered by the officers and members of Mechanics Lodge.
During these first fifty years. Mechanics Lodge has received 481 applications, 446 of which were accepted and 35 rejected. 57 of the 446 which were accepted, were applications for affiliation, and 389 received the degrees in Mechanics Lodge. This makes an average of about eight new members taken in each year.
No doubt there have been many members of Mechanics Lodge who deserve mention in this history, but it would be impossible to try to do this in so short a space. However, a few whom I have known in recent years, stand out in mv mind. Brother Walter Harris Ray, Sr., was made a Mason in Mechanics Lodge in 1892 by special Dispensation of the Grand Lodge. Although Brother Ray could not strictly conform with the requirements of the work of the degrees, because of the loss of his left arm, there has never been a question in the minds of any who knew him, in that in his heart he was made a Mason in due form. Brother Ray attended the meetings of the Lodge regularly and always had a smile and kind word for all. Two of his remarkable accomplishments were his skill with a cue on the pool table whore many younger men with two good hands have been badly defeated by him, and his handling of a deck of cards. No player ever had to wait for Brother Ray to play his card. Brother Ray died July 22, 1921 at the age of fifty-nine.
Another Brother who. while he has never served as an officer of Mechanics Lodge, has served extensively in other bodies, is Right Eminent Sir James A. Gunn, Past Grand Commander, Grand Commandery Knights Templars for Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Brother Gunn served as Eminent Commander, Connecticut Valley Commandery in 1917 and 1918, and Sovereign Prince, Greenfield Council Princes of Jerusalem in 1925 and 1926.
Reverend Brother Thomas H. Vincent, who affiliated with Mechanics Lodge in 1917, coming from Orphan's Hope Lodge of East Weymouth, Massachusetts. was our chaplain from 1918 to 1925 when he left town. Every year he extended the Lodge an invitation to attend the Congregational Church in a body when he preached a special sermon fitting for the occasion. The last few years that Brother Vincent spent in Turners Falls his health was poor, and he gave up his church to take a much needed rest. This he was not permitted to do as he was called to serve in the Celestial Lodge Above soon after leaving Turners Falls.
Brother Edward E. Barnard is the oldest living member of Mechanics Lodge at the present tune, being eighty-eight years old. It is said that Brother Barnard is the only man living who worked on the first dam at Turners Falls which was built in 1866.
After reading over what I have written, I believe that the fact which impresses me most and should be an inspiration to all members old and new, is that the founders of our Lodge and the Masters who have presided over the meetings for fifty years, have been the leading men of the community — men who occupied important positions in their every day life, yet found time to devote to their duties in the Lodge.
Mechanics Lodge should lie congratulated upon a very prosperous and satisfactory fifty years of service in the community.
May the blessing of Heaven rest upon Mechanics Lodge and all regular Lodges throughout, the habitable earth. May brotherly love prevail in the future as it has in the past, and every moral and social virtue cement us. So Mote it Be.
75TH ANNIVERSARY HISTORY, APRIL 1953
From Proceedings, Page 1953-97:
By Worshipful William F. Patterson.
Twenty-five years ago Brother C. C. Fisk had the honor of bringing before the members the history of our first fifty years, and tonight it is my honor to present the continuation of that history to its seventy-fifth year. Inasmuch as many are not with us who were present twenty-five years ago and many are here who joined us since then, it seems proper to give a brief outline of our first fifty years; and by so doing, we hope to refresh the memory of our older members and bring our new members up-to-date.
At a communication of Bay State Lodge at Montague held January 14, 1878, a letter from R. N. Oakman, Jr., and others was read asking Bay State Lodge, "Our Mother Lodge" to grant them permission to form a Lodge in Turners Falls, a village in the Town of Montague, with a population of about 2000. The first work of construction of the Village was started in the year 1867, which means that only ten years had elapsed when the idea of a Lodge was formed by our first members.
The first official record of importance is the receipt by the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts of a petition for the formation of a Lodge at Turners Falls, to be known as Mechanic's Lodge. This petition was dated January 18, 1878, and was signed by twenty-seven Master Masons residing in Montague. Mechanic's Lodge held its first meeting on February 12, 1878, in what was known as the Clapp Building, at the corner of Seventh Street and Avenue A. The officers were
- R. N. Oakman, Jr., Master
- C. E. Craw, Senior Warden
- A. O. Wyman, Junior Warden
- L. E. Fales, Treasurer
- F. I. Webster, Secretary
- Nathaniel Holmes, Chaplain
- George Starbuck, Marshal
- D. F. Ripley, Senior Deacon
- R. M. Starbuck, Junior Deacon
- C. C. Crammer, Senior Steward
- C. W. Hosmer, Junior Steward
- Andrew J. Carry, Tyler
One of the first purchases of the new Lodge was the Holy Bible, which was bought from the American Bible Society at a cost of $13.10. This same Bible is on our altar this evening in observance of our seventy-fifth birthday. The altar which is in the center of our room tonight is one made at the John Russell Cutlery Co. by Brother Henry A. Axtell seventy-five years ago. The batons being carried by the officers tonight are of the finest ebony with solid ivory tips and were also made at the Cutlery Co. Our first Bible, altar and batons are surely keepsakes that we all treasure very highly and should be a constant reminder of the job well done by the first members of our Lodge; and we are deeply, grateful to each and every Brother that helped to preserve these historic articles for us.
These are only a few of the highlights of our first fifty years, but We do hope that they have brought back a few memories to some of our older members, as well as informing our new Brothers of the affairs of our Lodge under the leadership of men never to be forgotten.
On May 18, 1928, Mechanic's Lodge celebrated its fiftieth anniversary under the leadership of Wor. Rolland W. Ross, who was installed Master on December 2,1927. Our fiftieth birthday was celebrated by a reception and banquet at the Turners Falls Inn, with music by the Philharmonic Quartet. After the banquet, the Brethren returned to the lodge-rooms and R.W. Robert J. McKechnie, Grand Marshal, was presented and announced that Most Worshipful Frank L. Simpson, Grand Master of Masons in Massachusetts, and his suite were in waiting to pay Mechanic's Lodge a fraternal visit and to join Mechanic's Lodge in their anniversary celebration. The Most Worshipful Grand Master occupied the East and the program of the evening was carried out with music by the Quartet; the history of the Lodge was read and Veterans' Medals were presented to Wor. C. W. Hazelton and Brothers George Starbuck, George E. Chapman and Samuel E. Ripley by the Most Worshipful Grand Master. Wor. Rolland Ross was truly a busy man in Masonry, for he planned for the celebration of our anniversary, received fourteen applications for the degrees and raised twelve Brethren to the sublime degree of Master Mason.
Wor. Charles W. Higinbotham was installed Master of Mechanic's Lodge on November 23, 1928, and served the Lodge in that capacity until November 26, 1929. It is of special interest to note that during his term of office the officers' chairs now being used were gifts to the Lodge in memory of some of our departed Brothers and by some of our present Brothers. Wor. Bro. Charlie is our present Treasurer, and under R. W. Norman P. Farwell, he served as District Deputy Senior Grand Warden.
Wor. Donald R. Smith was elected to serve the Lodge next as its Worshipful Master and was installed in that office on November 26, 1929. It was during Wor. Don's year that The Square and Compass Club offered all of its property to the Lodge, and this property, such as the pool table, etc., is still being used by the members today. He was appointed District Deputy Senior Grand Warden by R.W. Neal M. Allis, and it is of interest to note that our present Tyler, Robert Parks, was first appointed to his office by Wor. Bro. Don.
Wor. Herbert M. Alvord was the next in line of Masters to serve Mechanic's Lodge and his term of office was from December 21, 1930, until November 17, 1931. It was during his term of office that a special meeting was called for the purpose of unveiling the portrait of our late Brother, R. W. Charles W. Schuler, who was truly one of our most prominent members. He was a Past Master of our Lodge, a Past District Deputy Grand Master, and a Past Junior Grand Warden of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts. Besides all this, he was a member of, and the head of, many of the collateral bodies. Wor. Bro. Herb, had a very successful year in the East and is still a willing worker for the Fraternity.
Wor. Bro. William C. Schneider occupied the East of the Lodge from November 1931 to November 1932. During Wor. William's year, Bro. George Starbuck, who was the first Marshal of our Lodge, died on March 29, 1932, and with the exception of C. C. Crammer, who took a dimit from our Lodge, was the only one of the original officers living at the time our Lodge celebrated its fiftieth anniversary. The large portrait of George Washington which is now in the Tyler's room was acquired during Wor. Schneider's year, with the help of Bro. Allen T. Treadway.
Wor. Marvin J. Haigis occupied the Oriental Chair for the year 1932 to 1933. In Wor. Marvin's year four of our members were presented Veterans' Medals. They were as follows: Brothers Warren Burnham, Herman Sauer, John Gilmore and Arthur Strahan. Besides being Worshipful Master, Bro. Marvin also served as District Deputy Grand Treasurer under R.W. Norman P. Farwell and is still willing to assist the Lodge whenever called upon to do so.
On December 12, 1933, Wor. Warren F. White was installed Master of Mechanic's Lodge and served for a one-year term. During his year, the Veteran's Medal of Bro. George Starbuck, a charter member of our Lodge, was presented to the Lodge for a keepsake and also the apron of Bro. N. Holmes, also a charter member, by Brothers A. A. Starbuck and J. Starbuck. The Rough and Perfect Ashlers which are now in our lodge-room were acquired during Wor. White's year. On December 11, 1934, Wor. R.W. Ross presented a Past Master's Jewel to Wor. W. White for a job well done in the East.
Wor. H. H. Hosley was next in line to serve the East of Mechanic's Lodge and he served in that capacity for two years. The showcase for our keepsakes was presented to the Lodge during his term of office by several Brethren. At the end of Wor. Hosley's first term of office, Bro. Lester G. Burnham was elected Master of the Lodge, but due to infantile paralysis, was unable to be installed and therefore Wor. Bro. Hosley assumed the East for a second time.
Wor. Beauford Dake occupied the Oriental Chair for the year 1936 to 1937. During his term of office he did much to promote the friendship of Masonry by his travels to and visits to other Lodges, both in and out of our jurisdiction.
Wor. Bro. Harold Tibbetts followed Bro. Dake to the East and served until December 2, 1938. In his year a portrait of our late Brother, Wor. T. B. Ross, better known as "Uncle Tom," was placed in our lodge-room in the memory of the many services offered by our departed Brother. Wor. Bro. Harold is still a very active member in our Lodge and is particularly willing to assume any duty he is called upon to perform.
Wor. Bro. Joseph Hyland occupied the Oriental Chair from December 1938 to December 1939. Under the direction and leadership of Wor. Bro. Joe, our lodge-rooms were redecorated during the summer months of July and August 1939. During his year, the sum of $1,000 was willed the Lodge by Mrs. A. Fitts, mother of Forest Fitts, who was Junior Steward at the time of his death. Wor. Bro. Joe had a most successful year in the East and did much to promote the social functions of our Lodge.
On December 6, 1939, Wor. Richard Smith was installed Master of Mechanic's Lodge by his brother, Wor. Donald Smith. Wor. Bro. Richard served the Lodge well and faithfully for one year as Master and was appointed District Deputy Junior Grand Warden by R.W. Neal M. Allis for two years.
December 4, 1940, Wor. John Burnham assumed the East of our Lodge for one year. Six of our beloved Brethren passed away during Wor. Brother John's year and among them was Bro. George E. Chapman, the last of our charter members. Wor. Bro. John's term of office expired on December 5, 1941, but by no means did his Masonic activities end there, as he was appointed District Deputy Grand Secretary by R.W. Neal M. Allis for two years and is still a very active member.
Wor. George O. Fuller occupied the Oriental Chair of Mechanic's Lodge on December 5, 1941, and served for a term of one year. Wor. Bro. George was the first Master to preside during the gas and tire rationing during World War II. Despite these handicaps, he had a very successful year as our Master and still is a willing helper in the Fraternity.
Wor. John S. Metzler was our next Master and presided until Dec. 3, 1943. It was during his term of office that the meeting dates of our Lodge of Instruction were changed so that they met only four months out of the year because of war restrictions. When R. W. Norman P. Farwell died during this year, a special election was held and our present Treasurer, Wor. G. W. Higinbotham, was elected to this office, which he has held to this date. Wor. John's year in the East as Master was, I am. sure, a pleasure to himself and honor to the Fraternity.
Wor. W. C. Wentworth had the honor of being installed Master by his father, R.W. C. C. Wentworth, on December 3, 1943. The present aprons worn by the officers today were first used during Wor. Bro. Winslow's year, at a special communication held on May 12, 1944. Wor. Wentworth's year in the East was both busy and successful and he is one of the Past Masters in particular that may be called upon to perform any number of various duties, which he does very willingly.
On November 28, 1944, Wor. Roy Graves was installed in the East and served until November 30, 1945. He held sixteen meetings, with an average attendance of twenty-one. Wor. Roy's year in the East was a most successful one.
R. W. Neal M. Allis assumed the East of Mechanic's Lodge on November 30, 1945. R.W. Neal became a Past Master of Jackson Lodge No. 60, West Fairlee, Vermont, before moving to Turners Falls. He is our present Secretary and was appointed District Deputy Grand Master by Most Worshipful Roger Keith in 1950, which office he held for two years. He is also a Past Master of the Twelfth Lodge of Instruction and is a very willing helper to the Lodge.
Wor. Camille Parker was the next to occupy the East in Mechanic's Lodge and was installed on November 22, 1946. Wor. Camille served in the East until December 5, 1947, and although his business kept him away from Turners Falls a good part of the time, he still managed to serve the Lodge in a very fitting manner.
Next to assume the high honor of serving Mechanic's Lodge as its Worshipful Master was Bro. Adam Frank. He held this office for one year and was a tireless worker for the good of our Fraternity. For two years he served as District Deputy Grand Treasurer under R. W. Neal M. Allis.
The East was next occupied by Wor. Frederick Croutworst for the year 1949. During his term of office he worked the three degrees on seven candidates, which for a Lodge our size, is very good. Wor. Bro. Ted served well and faithfully during his term of office, despite the fact that he was working night shifts a good part of the time.
Wor. Walter R. Marsh, our present Service Chairman, was installed Master on November 18, 1949, and served in that office until December 1, 1950. Wor. Walter worked long and hard for the good of Mechanic's Lodge and is still one of the most faithful members we have.
On November 14, 1950, Wor. Austin J. Blood was elected to occupy the East and assumed that high honor on December 1, 1950. Wor. Austin did a most excellent job of supervising the Craft, and it was during his year that the subject of redecorating our rooms was brought up. Wor. Austin is now our organist and a big help to the Lodge.
On October 9, 1951, Wor. William F. Patterson was elected to serve in the East and was installed on October 27, 1951. During his term of office the lodge-rooms were completely done over. The sum of $475.21 was realized from an auction held during his year in the East, which was used for our general fund. Wor. Bro. Bill's year in the East was, I am sure, an honor he will never forget.
As we arrive at our 75th year in Masonry, we find Wor. Olva Terio occupying the East of Mechanic's Lodge. Wor. Bro. Terio will, I am sure, have a full year ahead of him and is off to a good start at getting a very good service committee going which, as you all know, will be of great help to each and every one of us.
In conclusion, may I say that in seventy-five continuous years in Masonry Mechanic's Lodge has always had in its membership men from every walk of life. Thus we are all constantly reminded of one of the very first lessons we are taught in Masonry, that "It is not the external but the internal qualifications which recommend a man to be made a Mason."
CENTENARY HISTORY, OCTOBER 1978
From Proceedings, Page 1978-143:
From 1953 to 1978
By Worshipful Robert E. Wheeler
(Detailed histories of Mechanics Lodge for the earlier periods may be found in the Proceedings of Grand Lodge as follows: 1928 pages 101-122; 1953 pages 97-104.)
The first meetings of the Lodge were held in what was known as the Clapp Building at the corner of Seventh Street and Avenue A. This is the present home of the Polish Society St. Kazimier's. Almost immediately, while the Lodge was under Dispensation, steps for procuring suitable rooms were taken and a proposal from Brother Benjamin Fay, a member of Bay State Lodge, was accepted. Just what his proposal was, the records do not show, but we do know that he erected a three-story brick building on Avenue A, which was known as Fay Block. The top floor was built to meet the requirements of the Lodge, and a lease was taken for a period of ten years. The rent for the new quarters was "not to exceed one hundred and fifty ($150.00) per annum." We know this building today as the location of the former Trudel's Pharmacy, and the present home of the Turners Falls Pizza House. The Lodge was constituted and the apartments dedicated by the Grand Lodge at a Special Communication of the Grand Lodge. (1879 Mass. 29-30)
It was during the years of 1905 and 1906 that the Lodge began to look around for larger quarters. Committees were appointed to confer with the Turners Falls Company regarding the leasing of Pawtucket Hall for a Lodge room but these plans did not go through as the Brothers felt that it was going to cost more than they could afford to make the necessary changes.
Later, however, it became apparent to the members that new quarters were necessary, and once again, a committee was appointed to negotiate with the Crocker Institution for Savings regarding a lease of the top floor of the Bank Block at the corner of Avenue A and Second Street. This committee reported at the annual meeting of 1910, and it was voted to take a lease of these rooms for a period of ten years. The work of remodeling and fitting the rooms for Lodge work was accomplished in about two months. Worshipful John W. Haigis, one of the leaders in the movement for the new quarters, was the first Master to occupy the East in these new rooms. The Lodge actually met in these lodge rooms at 54 Avenue A for the next 64 years.
Once again, in the early 1970's, we find the Brethren discussing the possibility of moving to other quarters. Now we find that the members of the Lodge are fewer in number and the age of the brethren is getting older, and as they become older the stairs leading to the third floor lodge room are getting harder to climb. Therefore, the attendance at the meetings was getting smaller and smaller. Also, it was during these years that the Crocker Institution for Savings (now known as the Greenfield Savings Bank) felt the need to increase our rent of the rooms twice in two years.
On October 9, 1973, a committee was formed for the purpose of finding suitable quarters for Mechanics Lodge. This committee consisted of Right Worshipful Winslow C. Wentworth, Chairman ; Right Worshipful James T. Lonergan; Worshipful Nicholas Prokowich; Worshipful Edward Smith and Worshipful Robert Lord. It is through the efforts of this committee that the quarters we are meeting in today are owned by the Mechanics Lodge Building Association, Inc.
On October 15, 1973, the Board of Selectman were approached about the availability of the Montague City School. On October 24, an offer was made to the Selectmen for the purchase of the property. Under Article 18 of the Special Town Meeting held on November 15, 1973, it was voted to convey the property to Mechanics Lodge Building Association, Inc. for $500. Now it was necessary to act quickly to have Mechanics Lodge Building Association, Inc. formed under Chapter 180 of the General Laws. The date of Incorporation is December 10, 1973, and the Charter is dated January 31, 1974. As the property was zoned Recreation-Educational, it was necessary to obtain a variance in the Montague Zoning By-Laws. A hearing was held on December 21, 1973 and the Board of Appeals granted the Association a Special Permit to operate a non-profit club and Lodge at School Street. The Town of Montague conveyed the property to the Association by deed dated January 29, 1974.
On Tuesday evening, March 12, 1974, the Regular Communication of the Lodge was held in the new Lodge rooms. This was the first Masonic meeting to be held there. Worshipful John W. Pride, Jr. was presiding in the East. District Deputy Grand Master Alfred Malanson, of the Greenfield 14th Masonic District, was the featured speaker.
On Saturday, May 6, 1978 at the annual Town Meeting, Town of Montague, held in Turners Falls acting under the petition submitted by Right Worshipful James T. Lonergan and others, the name of the street on which our temple is located was changed from "School Street" to "Masonic Avenue", to be effective on or about January 1, 1979. At that time, the official address will be 18 Masonic Avenue.
One of the first purchases of the new Lodge was the Holy Bible, which was bought from the American Bible Society at the cost of $13.10. This same book adorned the altar up until the year 1926 when Mrs. Cora E. Ray presented Mechanics Lodge with a handsome Bible as a memorial of our late Brother Walter Harris Ray. The original Bible now rests in the archives of the Lodge.
Many of the fittings and furnishings were donated or made by the officers. The first altar, which is still carefully preserved, was made at the John Russell Cutlery Company by Brother Henry A. Axtell under the direction of Worshipful R. N. Oakman, Jr. The batons that were first carried by our Senior and Junior Wardens and the Marshal were also made at the Cutlery. These were made of the finest ebony with solid ivory tips. It is unfortunate that they are missing from the Lodge rooms and are unable to be found. The marble slabs which adorn the pedestals of the Senior and Junior Wardens stations, were given by Brother A. A. Runkin of Greenfield on December 3, 1878. To the generosity of Dr. Erastus C. Coy, an ardent Mason, friend, and physician of practically every family in town, the Lodge is indebted for the Oriental Chair which is still in the East; to Right Worshipful R. N. Oakman, Jr., the Senior Warden's chair; and to Brother F. I. Webster, the Junior Warden's chair. This was in the years of 1882 and 1883 when Worshipful Brother R. M. Starbuck was Master. It is also Worshipful Brother Starbuck who was the first to think of the need of keeping records and memorials for future generations, and it was at his suggestion that pictures of all Charter Members were secured and hung in the Lodge room.
It was while Worshipful Frank P. Douglas was Master in the years 1899 and 1900 that the portrait of Brother Charles E. Chapin was presented to the Lodge by Brother Morse. Brother Chapin was called to serve his country in the Spanish American War and while serving his country died at Camp Wikoff, New York. He was serving the Lodge as Junior Warden at this time.
In the year 1929, under the leadership of Worshipful Charles Higinbotham, the officers' chairs now being used were presented to the Lodge in memory of some of our now departed members.
In 1931, at a Special Communication, the Lodge was presented with the portrait of Right Worshipful Charles W. Schuler.
In the records of November 12, 1935, "On a motion made and seconded, it was voted to accept the show-case in the Tylers' room, as a gift of many Brothers, and that a vote of thanks was given to Worshipful Brother Charles W. Higinbotham for his work in preparing the case to be used for this display of our Masonic memorabilia."
On December 4, 1937, we accepted the Ancient Masonic Chart, the property of Brother Arthur Stratton.
Right Worshipful James T. Lonergan was Master in 1967 when the Lodge was given the large portrait of Right Worshipful Winslow C. Wentworth, who was our District Deputy Grand Master for the year 1964 and 1965.
Right Worshipful Richard N. Oakman, Jr. served as District Deputy Grand Master of the 13th Masonic District for the years 1888 to 1889.
Right Worshipful Charles W. Schuler served as District Deputy Grand Master of the old 13th Masonic District for the years 1909 and 1910. Right Worshipful Arthur H. Porter was next to serve as District Deputy Grand Master from our Lodge. He served for the years 1923 and 1924.
Right Worshipful Norman P. Farwell served Mechanics Lodge as an officer for many years. He served as Master in 1903 and as Secretary from 1907 to 1913 when he was elected Treasurer and filled that office for a long time. He served as District Deputy Grand Master for the years 1936 and 1937.
Right Worshipful Neal M. Allis is the next to serve as District Deputy Grand Master from our Lodge. He served the Greenfield 14th Masonic District for the years 1950 and 1951. He was raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason in Jackson Lodge No. 60, West Fairlee, Vermont; affiliated with Mechanics Lodge in 1938, and was Master of the Lodge in the year 1946. He also served the Lodge as Secretary for many years. He was also a Past Patron of Turners Falls Chapter, Order of Eastern Star.
Right Worshipful Winslow Clarence Wentworth served as District Deputy Grand Master of the Greenfield 14th Masonic District for the years 1964 and 1965. He was raised in Saint Bernard's Lodge, Southboro, Massachusetts on June 14, 1928; affiliated with Mechanics Lodge on May 10, 1938 and served as its Master in 1944. He also served as Master of the 12th Lodge of Instruction the same year. He was also a Past Patron of Turners Falls Chapter, Order of Eastern Star.
Our present District Deputy Grand Master of the Greenfield 14th Masonic District is Right Worshipful James Thomas Lonergan. He is also presiding Master of our Lodge. Right Worshipful Lonergan was raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason in Mechanics Lodge in 1962. He served as its Master in 1967. He was elected to the Secretary's station at the annual meeting in 1967 and served in that position until this year when he was elected once again to serve the Lodge as its Master. He is also serving this year as Worthy Patron in the Turners Falls Chapter, Order of Eastern Star.
Seventy-five of the Brethren have been elected to preside over the affairs of Mechanics Lodge. Of these 75 Masters, 25 have served two terms in the office. It is impossible to mention the work that each and every Master accomplished, but I will mention a few items not included in the previous histories, that are of interest.
Right Worshipful Hiram Orlando Smith was raised to the Sublime Degree in Mountain Lodge, Shelburne Falls, on May 24, 1865. He served as Secretary in 1866 and 1867 and was elected Junior Warden of the Lodge for the years 1868 and 1869. He served as Master of Mountain Lodge for the years 1870, 1871 and 1875. While a member of Mountain Lodge, he served as District Deputy Grand Master. On February 25, 1885 he requested a demit from Mountain Lodge and affiliated with Mechanics Lodge, serving as Master for the years 1888 and 1889. While serving as Master during these years, he had the distinction of receiving our first Master, Richard N. Oakman, Jr., on his first official visit to Mechanics Lodge as District Deputy Grand Master of the 13th Masonic District. For the work of the evening, Charles W. Schuler was presented and raised to the Sublime Degree. Here we find a past Right Worshipful and Worshipful presiding in the East to receive a visiting Right Worshipful and working a degree upon a future Right Worshipful. Right Worshipful Brother Smith died on May 13, 1900 being the first Past Master to be called by the Great Creator. The Lodge attended the funeral in a body and followed the remains to the cemetery in Shelburne Falls, where the last Masonic Rites were performed by the Connecticut Valley Commandery.
In the years 1907 and 1908, Right Worshipful James D. Coy occupied the Oriental Chair. Many here today remember Brother Coy and the good Masonic fellowship we had with him. On March 2, 1972, a "Jim" Coy night was held at Republican Lodge, Greenfield and among the many gifts presented was a 65th Year Past Master's Certificate. Brother Coy died on January 22, 1974 in his 96th year.
It was Worshipful Clarence A. Flagg, who as Master one year (1922), said at the Annual Meeting, "I do not choose to run", thus setting an example which all Masters followed until the year 1971 when Worshipful Edward G. Smith was elected to succeed himself. There was one exception to this, for at the end of Worshipful Harold H. Hosley's term in office (1935), Brother Lester G. Burnham was elected Master of the Lodge but due to infantile paralysis was unable to be installed and, therefore Worshipful Hosley assumed the East a second time. Worshipful Dana G. Salmon, Master of the Lodge in 1925, was the first veteran of World War I to serve the Lodge in the East.
On November 18, 1949, Worshipful Walter H. Marsh was installed Master, he being the first veteran of World War II to occupy the East. Worshipful Brother Marsh is still very active in Lodge work and is currently serving as Marshal.
In the year 1938, under the leadership of Worshipful Harold H. Tibbetts, we find two members of our Lodge who were destined to be District Deputy Grand Masters of the Greenfield 14th Masonic District, applying for membership. On January 11, Right Worshipful Neal M. Allis applied for membership by affiliation from Jackson Lodge No. 60, West Fairlee, Vermont and on April 12, Right Worshipful Winslow C. Wentworth applied for membership by affiliation from St. Bernard's Lodge, Southboro, Massachusetts.
November 14, 1939 we find in the records that Mrs. Abbie Fitts, of Leominster, Massachusetts, mother of Forest Fitts, who was our Junior Steward when he was called to the Celestial Lodge Above, gave to the Lodge in memory of her son, the sum of $1,000. This was put into the general fund. Worshipful Joseph L. Hyland was presiding in the East at this time.
One year later, on December 4, 1940, Worshipful John G. Burnham assumed the East. Six of our beloved Brethren died during this year and among them was Brother George E. Chapman, the last of our Charter Members. Worshipful John Burnham served but one year as Master, but he did serve two years as District Deputy Grand Secretary for Right Worshipful Neal M. Allis. Worshipful Brother John is still very active in our Lodge and he is found at most of our monthly meetings.
Right Worshipful Winslow C. Wentworth had the honor of being installed Master of our Lodge by his father, Right Worshipful Clarence W. Wentworth on December 3, 1943. The present aprons worn by the Officers today were first used during Brother Wentworth's year in the East. Worshipful Wentworth's year in the East was both busy and successful, and he is still one of the Past Masters that may be called upon to perform any number of various duties, which he does very willingly.
On November 14, 1950, Worshipful Austin J. Blood was elected to the high honor of serving Mechanics Lodge in the East and he assumed that duty on December 1, 1950. Worshipful Master Austin did an excellent job in supervising the Craft and it was during his term in office that the Lodge rooms were redecorated. Worshipful Brother Blood is currently our Lodge Treasurer. During the years of 1964 and 1965, he served as District Deputy Grand Treasurer for Right Worshipful Wentworth. He is also, once again this year, serving in that position for our present District Deputy Grand Master, James T. Lonergan.
It was under the leadership of Worshipful Edward G. Smith, in 1971 and 1972, that it was voted "to give $100.00 to the Order of DeMolay for their scholarship fund to be taken from the charity fund". It was also in 1972, while the Ecumenical movement was sweeping the country, that Mechanics Lodge accepted an invitation from the Turners Falls Council, Knights of Columbus, to attend a Mass and a communion breakfast at St. Ann's Church. Many members of the Lodge did attend this service and it was reported that a very good time was had.
Worshipful John W. Pride, Jr., had the honor of being in the East at the last Regular Communication held at the Crocker Bank Building at the corner of 2nd Street and Avenue A. The third degree was given to Brother Robert John Slongwhite by the Past Masters of the Lodge. This gave many Past Masters, who had served the Lodge in those rooms, an active part in this last farewell degree. Worshipful Brother Pride was still in the East when the first degree was given to three candidates in our new quarters on School Street, Montague City. So we now come to the end of our first 100 years and look forward to the future. The loss of many industries in the community has naturally had an effect on our membership which has shown a decline through the years. However, the convenience of our new quarters and the pride in ownership of a Masonic Temple seems to have spurred a new interest in membership. The remodelling of the building has called for both Speculative and Operative qualities and we are proud of those members who have labored so diligently and of those members who have been physically unable to partake in the re-building of the edifice but have made their contributions to the work. We now look forward to the next 100 years, confident that Mechanics Lodge will still be an important force and have a part in the future history of the community.
It seems fitting to repeat once more the last paragraph of the history of our first 50 years:
"May the blessings of Heaven rest upon Mechanics Lodge and all regular Lodges throughout the habitable earth. May brotherly love prevail in the future as it had in the past, and every moral and social virtue cement us. So mote it be."
- 1879 (Memorial regarding charter, 1879-45)
GRAND LODGE OFFICERS
- Neal M. Allis, DDGM, District 14 (Greenfield), 1950, 1951; N
- David L. Bell, DDGM, District 14 (Greenfield), 1988, 1989
- Norman P. Farwell, DDGM, District 14 (Greenfield), 1936, 1937; SN
- James T. Lonergan, DDGM, District 14 (Greenfield), 1978, 1979; N
- Archie R. Nahman, DDGM, District 14 (Greenfield), 1994
- Frank H. Oakman, DDGM, District 13 (Greenfield), 1901, 1902; SN
- Arthur H. Porter, DDGM, District 14 (Greenfield), 1923, 1924; Memorial
- Charles W. Schuler, DDGM, District 13 (Greenfield), 1909, 1910; Junior Grand Warden 1913
- Donald B. Scott, 1986, 1987; Junior Grand Warden 1994
- Hiram O. Smith, DDGM, District 8 (Greenfield), 1880; Senior Grand Warden 1891
- Donald E. Strange, DDGM, District 13 (Barre), 1984, 1985; N
- Winslow C. Wentworth, DDGM, District 14 (Greenfield), 1964, 1965; N