- 1 MERIDIAN LODGE
- 2 REFERENCES IN GRAND LODGE PROCEEDINGS
- 2.1 ANNIVERSARIES
- 2.2 VISITS BY GRAND MASTER
- 2.3 BY-LAW CHANGES
- 2.4 HISTORY
- 2.4.1 HISTORICAL SKETCH OF MERIDIAN LODGE, SEPTEMBER 1906
- 2.4.2 HISTORICAL SKETCH OF MERIDIAN LODGE, DECEMBER 1916
- 2.4.3 HISTORICAL SKETCH OF MERIDIAN LODGE, DECEMBER 1922
- 2.4.4 NOTES IN 50TH ANNIVERSARY HISTORY OF NORFOLK LODGE, MAY 1924
- 2.4.5 150TH ANNIVERSARY HISTORY, DECEMBER 1947
- 2.4.6 NOTES IN CENTENARY HISTORY OF PEQUOSSETTE LODGE, DECEMBER 1957
- 2.4.7 NOTES IN 50TH ANNIVERSARY HISTORY OF WELLESLEY LODGE, MAY 1962
- 2.4.8 200TH ANNIVERSARY HISTORY, MAY 1998
- 2.5 OTHER
- 2.6 EVENTS
- 2.6.1 HALL DEDICATION, JUNE 1827
- 2.6.2 RETURN TO MEETING, MAY 1843
- 2.6.3 PRESENTATION, DECEMBER 1857
- 2.6.4 HALL DEDICATION, JULY 1875
- 2.6.5 INSTALLATION, DECEMBER 1882
- 2.6.6 SPECIAL MEETING, APRIL 1884
- 2.6.7 INSTALLATION, NOVEMBER 1884
- 2.6.8 INSTALLATION, NOVEMBER 1886
- 2.6.9 INSTALLATION, NOVEMBER 1887
- 2.6.10 WASHINGTON'S BIRTHDAY, FEBRUARY 1888
- 2.6.11 ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST DAY, JUNE 1888
- 2.6.12 SPECIAL VISIT TO WATERTOWN, FEBRUARY 1889
- 2.6.13 GRAND MASTER VISIT, APRIL 1912
- 2.6.14 175TH ANNIVERSARY, APRIL 1973
- 2.6.15 INSTALLATION, SEPTEMBER 1989
- 2.6.16 SPECIAL MEETING, NOVEMBER 1989
- 2.6.17 200TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION, MAY 1998
- 2.7 GRAND LODGE OFFICERS
- 2.8 OTHER BROTHERS
- 2.9 DISTRICTS
- 2.10 LINKS
Chartered By: Paul Revere
Charter Date: 12/12/1797 II-112
Precedence Date: 12/12/1797
Current Status: Active
MEMBER LIST, 1802
From Vocal Companion and Masonic Register, Boston, 1802, Part II, Page 25:
- R. W. Joseph Pierce, M.
- W. William Bond, S. W.
- W. Isaac Dana, J. W.
- Walter Hunnewell, Sec.
- Samuel Willington, Tr.
- Jonathan Alden, S. D.
- Daniel Coolidge, J. D.
- Elijah Learned, Steward.
- Daniel Sangar, Steward.
- Samuel Payson, Steward.
- Thaddeus Cole, Tiler.
No. of Members, 34.
- Nathaniel Wells
- Daniel Cornwell
- Joseph Nixon
- Eben. Steadman
- Abram Scales
- Elisha W. Dana
- Luther Dana
- John Meacham
- Jonas Wood
- Thomas Heard
- Edward Lowell
- Jonathan Bird
- Henry Jones
- Abner Wellington
- Elias Bond
- Asa Wood
- Jacob Head
- Lemuel Whitney
- Nathan Dewing
- Wm. Hoogs
- Jonathan Stone
- Richard Richardson
- Joshua Coolidge
- Isaac Patten
- Benjamin Cook
- David Smith
- Asa Reed
- William Hull
- Nathan Fuller
- Josiah Fuller
- Moses Stone
At Watertown (1797-1811)
- William Hull, 1797
- Nathaniel Weld, 1798, 1799
- Joseph Pierce, 1800
- William Bond, 1801-1803
- Peter Lynn, 1804-1810
At Wellesley Hills (1811-1851?)
- William Starr, 1811
- Issac Train, 1812
- Seth Dewing, 1813-1819
- Chester Adams, 1820
- Charles Rice, 1821, 1822 Raised 1821?
- Charles Rice, 1823-1845; Wikipedia
- Records Lost, 1824-51
- Malachi Babecock, 1852, 1855-1857, 1862
- John Wilson, 1853-1854
- George L. Sleeper, 1858-1859
- Ezekial B. Phillips, 1860
- Alvin Fuller, 1861
- James H. Parker, 1863-1868
- Henry C. Burnham, 1869-1871
- William H. Wright, 1872, 1873
- Daniel Henry Lawrence Gleason, 1874
- George J. Townsend, 1875, 1876; SN
- Silas H. Bent, 1877, 1879
- Edward H. Wilson, 1880, 1881
- Henry Gage Wood, 1882-1883
- Frederick Lewis, 1884, 1885
- Charles C. Henry, 1886, 1887; Mem
- James H. Gilligan, 1888, 1889
- Chester F. Soule, 1890
- Elwin C. Huntoon, 1891-1893
- Wilmont W. Mitchell, 1894, 1895
- Marshalim L. Perin, 1896, 1897
- James Downs, 1898, 1899; Mem
- Samual W. Simpson, 1900
- Francis C. Perry, 1901-1902
- Eward E. Henry, 1903-1904
- Alfred B. Underwood, 1905, 1906; Mem
- Winfield S. Daniels, 1907-1908
- Robert J. Montgomery, 1909
- William B. Pratt, 1910, 1911
- George McKenny, 1912, 1913
- William A. Laughton, 1914, 1915
- Francis C. Cutting, 1916, 1917
- Ernest C. Bragdon, 1918, 1919
- William A. Atwood, 1920, 1921
- Walter H. Wright, 1922
- Williams S. McRobert, 1923, 1924; N
- James E. White, 1925, 1926
- Alexander J. Montgomery, 1927, 1928
- Burns L. Fish, 1929; Mem
- Frederick H. Buckley, 1930, 1931
- John Keays, 1932, 1933
- Frank C. Bennett, 1934, 1935
- Harry S. Spinney, 1936
- Alfred E. Edwards, 1937-1939
- Whitman C. Densmore, 1940
- Burton W. Wright, 1941
- Walter C. Ward, 1942
- George G. Shipp, 1943
- Burnham G. Gage, 1944
- William M. Stacy, 1945
- Harry D. Baker, 1946
- Reginald V. Yeomans, 1947
- Clarence C. Eldrige, 1948
- Arnold H. Baker, 1949; N
- Ralph A. Hall, 1950
- Chester E. Johnson, 1951
- Edward A. Olson, 1952
- E. Melville Westgate, 1953
- Chester Mosman, 1954
- R.A. Fairbrother, Sr., 1955
- Stanley H. Deane, 1956
- Walter DeMelle, 1957
- Frank A. Crowe, 1958
- James R. Wooley, 1959
- Russell H. Hooker, 1960
- John A. LaRhette, 1961
- John E. King, 1962
- Albert T. Ames, 1963, 2013
- Harold H. Brandt, 1964
- Richard B. Johnson, III, 1965
- Bruce W. Miller, 1966
- James R. Crowley, 1967
- Clarence K. Brayton, 1968
- Eugene H. Ames, Jr., 1969
- Howard G. Hedderig, 1970
- Arthur L. Lipman, 1971
- Robert F. Faulkner, 1972
- Charles J. Ames, 1973
- David K. Allen, 1974
- Norman V. Giffin, Sr., 1975
- Hoken L. Enquist, 1976
- Robert A. Howatt, 1977
- Richard A. Brandt, 1978
- George L. Baldwin, 1979
- John R. Bruce, 1980
- James W. Thrasher, 1981, 1982
- Albert F. Smith, 1983
- Norman L. Phillips, 1984
- Raymond E. Higgins, 1985
- Gerald R. Lever, 1986
- Mark Kaprielian, 1987
- J. Herbert Babst, 1988
- Ronald F. Wood, 1989
- Wayne T. Szretter, 1990
- Courtney D. Williams, 1991
- Charles F. Nassau, III, 1992
- Henry J. Mimonski, 1993
- Douglas H. Deane, 1994
- Gregg D. Giffin, 1995
- Reginald S. Leese, 1996
- Edwin C. Sloper, 1997; PDDGM
- Peter Pilla, 1998
- James H. Campbell, 1999
- Donald E. Glencross, 2000
- Richard P. Brita, 2001
- Steven A. Perkins, 2002
- Charles D. Lloyd, 2003
- Jeffrey H. Phillips, 2004
- Richard D. Ames, 2005
- John M. Vining, 2006, 2007
- John G. Brainard, 2008, 2009
- Ralph Nixon, 2010, 2011
- Ted Colgate, 2012
- Michael E. Siaba, 2014
- Stephen Abate, 2015
- Jay R. Snyder, 2016, 2018
- Geoffrey S Turi, 2017
See also the Past Masters of Maugus Hill Lodge, which merged into this Lodge in 1999.
According to the Wikipedia entry, General Charles Rice (1787-1863) was a selectman in Newton Lower Falls. He became a member of this Lodge in 1822 according to Grand Lodge records, and was Master during most of the period for which the Lodge has no records. He is buried at St. Mary's Episcopal Church in Newton Lower Falls.
REFERENCES IN GRAND LODGE PROCEEDINGS
- 1898 (Centenary)
- 1922 (125th Anniversary)
- 1947 (150th Anniversary)
- 1973 (175th Anniversary)
- 1998 (200th Anniversary)
VISITS BY GRAND MASTER
- 1827 (Soley; Hall dedication; Special Communication)
- 1875 (Deputy Grand Master Charles A. Welch; Hall dedication; Special Communication)
- 1881 (Lawrence)
- 1898 (Hutchinson; Centenary; Special Communication)
- 1907 (Blake)
- 1911 (Flanders)
- 1912 (Benton; Patriot's Day; see below)
- 1920 (Prince; Soldiers' Night)
- 1922 (Prince; 125th Anniversary; Special Communication)
- 1925 (Ferrell)
- 1947 (Wragg; 150th Anniversary; Special Communication)
- 1973 (Vose; 175th Anniversary; Special Communication)
- 1976 (Maxwell)
- 1980 (Melanson)
- 1981 (Berquist; 2 visits, including reception for Senior Grand Warden Albert T. Ames)
- 1987 (Ames; Master Mason Degree; Special Communication)
- 1989 (Ames; Master Mason Degree; Special Communication)
- 1993 (Ames)
- 1998 (A. Johnson; 200th Anniversary; Special Communication)
- 1999 (Bauer; Consolidation; Special Communication)
- 2004 (Hicks)
- 2005 (Hodgdon; installation)
- 2008 (Pageau)
- 1906 (From New England Craftsman; see below)
- 1916 (From New England Craftsman; see below)
- 1922 (125th Anniversary History, 1922-401; see below)
- 1924 (Notes in 50th Anniversary HIstory of Norfolk Lodge, 1924-76; see below)
- 1947 (150th Anniversary History, 1947-438; see below)
- 1957 (Notes in Centenary History of Pequossette Lodge, 1962-102; see below)
- 1962 (Notes in 50th Anniversary History of Wellesley Lodge, 1962-102; see below)
- 1973 (Dramatic 175th Anniversary historical presentation, 1973-83)
- 1998 (200th Anniversary History, 1998-49; see below)
HISTORICAL SKETCH OF MERIDIAN LODGE, SEPTEMBER 1906
From New England Craftsman, Vol. I, No. 12, September 1906, Page 442:
William Hull, First Master of Meridian Lodge
Among the Masonic lodges of Massachusetts that have passed the century mark of their career and have done good service in the interest of Freemasonry, and in promoting the moral and social virtues of those who have come under their influence, may be mentioned Meridian Lodge of Natick, Massachusetts, which was founded at the end of the iSth century. Its charter was granted December 11, 1797, to William Hull and others to hold a lodge "in the town of Watertown." The original charter, and all the record books and papers of the lodge, with the exception of the original treasurer's account book, were destroyed by fire in Natick July 20, 1862, where the lodge was then located. Owing to this loss the history of the lodge from the date of its charter until September, 1862, is very meager and unsatisfactory. The lodge was constituted September 5, 1798. Fortunately a very full account of the ceremonies of the occasion was published a few days subsequent to the event in the Boston Sentinel, from which it is learned that "The Rev. Bro. Eliot introduced the formalities by prayer," and that instrumental music followed. The exercises were continued as follows:
The Rev. Mr. Bentley then pronounced an ingenious, learned and historical discourse, in which the Robinsons of Europe were exposed in all their imperfections, and the craft ably, boldly and candidly vindicated.
The Rev. Bro. Harris, Grand Chaplain, performed the consecrating duties, and the M. W. Grand Master and Wor. Bro. Hall each delivered pertinent and adapted charges.
The fraternity then repaired to one of the best entertainments ever furnished so large an assembly, and which did infinite honor to Brothei Welles, the provider.
After dinner patriotic toasts were given, and the lodges closed at an early hour. Among the toasts, after the Grand Lodge had retired, was the following, which for point is rarely equaled:
May we never have a war without a Washington, a Shay without a Lincoln, nor a Morse without a Bentley.
After dinner Brother Williamson, Brother Jackson and several assisting brethren gave a number of Masonic airs, and the patriotic songs of Adams and Liberty, Hail Columbia, etc., in the most finished style of melody.
A list of sixteen toasts are given, which cover every.subject relating to the occasion from "The President of the United States" to "The Day."
Circumstances made it desirable that the lodge should be removed to another town, and June 10, 1811. the Most Worshipful Grand Master of the Grand Lodge granted the members of Meridian Lodge permission to change their location from Watertown to Needham, now known as Wellesley Hills. The home of the lodge was in what was known as Smith's Tavern, on the Boston and Worcester turnpike, and kept by Brother David Smith.
The hall in this tavern was dedicated July 1, 181 r, on which occasion a sermon was preached by Rev. Bro. Charles Train, A. M., a Baptist clergyman. The sermon was printed by the lodge.
From the date of the dedication of this hall to September 13, 1843, no reliable record of the doings of the lodge are known. Names of brethren have been culled from the accounts of the treasurer, under the head of "Past and Present Members of the Lodge." Interesting notices of the lodge, however, have been found in the Boston Sentinel and The Churchman's Magazine, from which we learn that the Festival of St. John was celebrated by Meridian Lodge June 24, 1813, and that Meridian Lodge acted as an escort to the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge at the laying of the corner-stone of St. Mary's Episcopal church at Newton Lower Falls, September 29, 1813.
On the 13th day of September, 1843, permission was granted to the members of Meridian Lodge to again change their location to Newton Lower Falls, and it is so recorded by the Grand Lodge. We learn from tradition that they occupied the Wales Tavern at Newton Lower Falls, and for a short time held meetings at Newton Upper Falls. Its last location in that vicinity, however, was in a building then owned by Brother Gen. Charles Rice, situated about 300 feet from the bridge which spans the Charles river, between the then known towns of Needham and Newton. The building in which the lodge-room was fitted up was a large dwelling house, and is still standing.
By permission of the Grand Master the location of the lodge was again changed, March 10, 1852, and the lodge was removed to Natick, where it has remained until the present day, with every prospect of being continued there permanently.
The cause which led to the change to Natick is interesting. It appears that a number of brethren residing in Natick had determined to establish a lodge in that town if the recommendation of the nearest lodge could be procured. Application was made to Middlesex lodge of Framingham, which lodge declined to grant their request, deeming it inadvisable to have a lodge so near their location. For a short time the brethren were disheartened and nonplused as to the next step to be taken, when it occurred to them that the location of Meridian Lodge at Needham was nearer to Natick than Framingham and therefore held jurisdiction over their territory. Accordingly the committee took new courage, and consulted with the brethren of Meridian Lodge in reference to granting them permission to petition the Grand Lodge.
Gen. Charles Rice, then a prominent member of Meridian Lodge, informed the committee that the interest in Freemasonry was then at a very low ebb and suggested that they enter into a compact to have Meridian Lodge transferred to Natick, where it was hoped it would have a wider scope for usefulness. This agreement was gladly entered into by the Natick brethren, and the necessary dispensation for the transfer of Meridian Lodge to Natick was granted by Rev. G. M. Randall, D. D., Most Worshipful Grand Master of the Grand Lodge at that time. This action was taken March 10, 1S52, during the same month the first communication of the lodge was called in Natick for organization.
The lodge flourished in its new location until July 20. 1862, when nearly all its property was destroyed by fire. The loss was serious. The records from December, 1797, and the charter, which bore the signature of Paul Revere, were among the property highly prized which was lost and which could not be replaced. A new charter to serve in place of that destroyed was granted by the Grand Lodge.
The lodge suffered again by fire January 13, 1874. At this time the whole business portion of the town was destroyed. There was saved: the records, "lights," jewels, banner and candlesticks. The first regular communication following I the fire was held at the residence of the secretary. The lodges of Framingham and Newtonville tendered the use of their lodge rooms and paraphernalia. New Masonic apartments were secured and the first meeting held June 16, 1875. They were dedicated July 16, 1875. The new Masonic apartments were considered the most elegant in the state, at that time, of any outside of Boston.
Alfred B. Underwood, Worshipful Master
In 1880 the lodge was in debt to the amount of $1900. A fair was held for the purpose of lifting this debt. This was not only accomplished but more than $1400 in addition was obtained for the benefit of the treasury. One thousand dollars of the money secured by the fair were appropriated by vote of the lodge to establish a charity fund. The lodge gained an extensive reputation for the excellence of its work, and on many occasions its quarters were crowded by visitors.
At its regular communication, April 9, 1884, there were present no members of the lodge and 181 visitors, representing 61 lodges and six states and countries. On February 2, 1887, there were 96 members present and 194 visitors, of whom 52 were employes of the Boston and Albany Railroad, with which the Worshipful Master, Wor. Bro. Charles C. Henry, was then connected.
One of the interesting events in the history of Meridian Lodge was the celebration of St. John's Day, June 25, 1888. The journal of the proceedings of this day cover about forty-five pages of the Records. It was also reported at full length in the Natick Citizen. There was a procession of nearly 300 Masons. An oration was delivered by Rev. Brother William H. Hayward in the Congregational church. A banquet was served in Concert Hall, at which addresses were made by distinguished speakers, including Governor Oliver Ames and Lieut.-Gov. John O. A. Bracket, both of whom were Masons. In the evening a reception was tendered to the ladies of Master Masons. The success of the event was largely due to Worshipful Charles C. Henry, who was master of the lodge at the time.
About nine years later occurred another notable event in the history of Meridian Lodge, it being the celebration of the centennial of the institution of the lodge. This ceremony was in a measure introduced at a special communication of the lodge, December 11, 1897, which was held for the purpose of celebrating the centennial anniversary of the signing of the lodge charter, which bore the name of Paul Revere. The program at that time included a reception to the members of the lodge and their guests, and a banquet, followed by toasts and literary exercises. Most Worshipful Charles C. Hutchinson, Grand Master, and other distinguished Masons were present and participated in the exercises. The crowning event in the history of Meridian Lodge was the splendid celebration of the centennial of the institution of the lodge. The exercises were admirably arranged and most successfully executed. They began on Sunday, September 4, 1898, and were not concluded until a late hour on the following day.
The program in part was as follows: Centennial praise service on Sunday at 3 P. M. in the Congregational church, at which an address was given by Rev. Brother R. Perry Bush, and a centennial hymn sung which was written by Brother John Rockwood, a past secretary of the lodge. On Monday, September 5, Most Worshipful Charles C. Hutchinson, grand master, and other officers of the Grand Lodge, were formerly received and entertained with an informal luncheon. A procession was then formed under the direction of Wor. Bro. F. H. L. Gleason. chief marshal, and after passing over the designated route they arrived at the Congregational church, where the centennial exercises were continued according to the program, which included an address of welcome by Wor. Brother Marshall L. Perrin, Master of Meridian Lodge, a reply by Most Wor Charles C. Hutchinson, an historical address by the Worshipful Master, an oration by Rev. Bro. Edward A. Horton, Grand Chaplain of the Grand Lodge, an ode written by Brother John Rockwood, and a poem by past master Wor. Bro. Wilmot W. Mitchell. Following the exercises at the church was the centennial banquet, at which Wor. Bro. Charles C. Henry presided as toastmaster. The speeches on this occasion were full of interest and greatly enjoyed After the banquet a band concert was given in front ol the Masonic apartments, and in the evening a reception was tendered to the ladies and invited guests at Freemasons Hall, and concluded most happily the exercises of tin centennial celebration.
Meridian Lodge has at the present time nearly 350 members. The first Worshipful Master was General William Hull, who served in tin Revolutionary War. He was a lawyer by profession, and prominent in public affairs. Since Meridian Lodge has been located in Natick twenty-five brethren have presided as Worshipful Masters and under their faithful administration the lodge has grown in number and influence. The present Master is Worshipful Brother Alfred B. Underwood. It would be pleasant task to mention the names and work done by the several masters of the lodge, but the limits of this article will not permit; we can only mention Worshipful Charles C, Henry, who is the present secretary of the lodge. From the initiation of this brother his interest in Meridian Lodge has been conspicuous and constant. Being appointed to office almost as soon as he became a member, he at once won the respect of his brethren by his marked ability and devotion to the interest of the lodge. As one has said of him, he is "an example of zeal and industry," these qualities are characterized by a method that has lead to success.
Brother Henry was born in Brooklyn. N. V., November 1, 1852. He received his early education in the public schools of Brooklyn, New York and in the Columbia Institute at Washington. D. C. At the age of eighteen he came to Natick and engaged in various ventures of mercantile character until the year 1881, when he entered the employ of the Boston and Albany railroad corporation. He advanced from one position to another until May, 1884, when the corporation, recognizing his efficiency, appointed him to the position of station agent at Wellesley Hills. This position he later resigned to accept a county office.
Brother Henry received the degrees of Freemasonry in Meridian Lodge, and was made Master Mason January 16, 1878. In the following November he was installed senior steward: he then served three years as secretary, then two years as senior deacon. It was in this last position that his marked ability for Masonic ritual work attracted general attention. He was elected Worshipful Master in 1886 and served the lodge in that capacity during two years As Worshipful Master he was eminently successful. Under his direction the lodge increased in membership and advanced in sociability and good-fellowship. Appreciation of Brother Henry has on several occasions been publicly expressed by presentation to him of valuable gifts and testimonials, perhaps that which he most appreciated being a beautiful album of plush and choice woods, handsomely mounted upon a stand, containing the photographs of thirty of the candidates who had been raised to the Master Mason degree during his term of office as Master.
Worshipful Brother Henry has not limited his Masonic service to his lodge. He is a past High Priest of Parker R. A. Chapter, past Commander of Natick Coiumandery Knights Templar, past District Deputy of Grand Lodge and Grand Chapter, and past Grand Scribe of the Grand Chapter. He is a member of Boston Council of Royal and Select Masters, a member of all the Scottish Rite bodies in Boston from the 4th to the 32d degree inclusive. He is at the present time Secrerary of Meridian Lodge and Parker Royal Arch Chapter, and Potentate of Aleppo Temple of the Mystic Shrine. Brother Henry is still in the prime of vigorous manhood, and bids fair to continue his useful service in the cause of Freemasonry for mam years to come.
Many other members of Meridian Lodge have won honor, not only in Masonic service but in various branches of useful effort. Conspicuous among these we mention: Brother Hon. Charles C. Tirrell, who represents his district in Congress; Hon. Francis Bigelow, chairman of county commissioners of Middlesex county ; Prof. Marshall L. Perrin of Boston University, who was Worshipful Master at the time of the centennial of the lodge; Judge Henry C. Mulligan and others, who have contributed to the glory of Meridian Lodge, concerning which, with one of her own members, we unite in saying, "May her sun of glory never set, but always shine at its Meridian height."
HISTORICAL SKETCH OF MERIDIAN LODGE, DECEMBER 1916
From New England Craftsman, Vol. XII, No. 4, January 1917, Page 130:
Historical Sketch of Meridian Lodge
By Wor. Master Francis S. Cutting
As a lecture is to be given here tonight illustrating some facts of Masonic history, perhaps it will Mmm not be out of order to say something about Meridian Lodge first.
Meridian Lodge was chartered by Most Worshipful Grand Master Paul Revere in December, 1797, 119 years ago this month. The first meeting was held in Watertown September, 1798. In June, 1811, it moved to Wellesley Hills, then Needham, and held communications in Smith's Tavern on the Boston and Worcester Turnpike, afterwards known as Elm Park Hotel in Wellesley Hills Square.
In September, 1843, it moved to Newton Lower Falls and held communications in the Wales Tavern just over the Charles River in Newton. The house is standing today.
In March, 1852, it again moved, this time to Natick and held communications in the hall at Morse's Block, East Central Street, until July, 1862, when a fire destroyed the original Charter that had Paul Revere's signature, together with all the records, except the original treasurer's account book. Meetings were then held in various places in the town and a new charter was granted in September, 1862. The hall was then remodeled and meetings again held. In the meantime it moved to Walcott Block opposite the Common and held its first meeting there October, 1863. In July, 1869, it held its first communication in New Mason's Hall, Morse's Block, the present site of Masonic Block, where it remained until January, 1874, when the Great Natick Fire occurred and again destroyed the apartments. Fortunately records, lights, jewels, banner and candlesticks were saved. Regular communications were then held at the residence of Bro. Charles N. Gleason, the secretary, until June, 1875. (At this time Middlesex Lodge of Framingham and Dalhousie Lodge of Newtonville generously offered their quarters for our use.) The first meeting was held in the New Masonic Block, July 16, 1875, This hall was dedicated, just seventy-seven years from the day the first meeting was held in Watertown. At that time it was said that our apartments were the most elegant in the Grand Jurisdiction outside of the Temple in Boston, and I think most of us think as much of it today as on the day it was dedicated.
This is a brief history of Meridian Lodge and illustrates to our younger members some of the trials and hardships our brothers went through to attain the comforts we enjoy today. No doubt, many of the older members will recall other interesting incidents in the history of the lodge suggested by this brief review.
The historical sketch was followed by Brother Fred E. Marble, who gave an interesting and instructive illustrated lecture, "The Story of the Craft," to a large and appreciative audience from Natick and surrounding towns, sketching Masonry from B.C. to the present time.
HISTORICAL SKETCH OF MERIDIAN LODGE, DECEMBER 1922
From Proceedings, Page 1922-401:
By Bro. William S. McRobert.
Practically all the early records of Meridian Lodge were destroyed by fire and what few facts we have been able to obtain have come to us now and then as they are occasionally brought to light from old family and historical records.
Monday afternoon, December 11, 1797, the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts at its Annual Communication held in Concert Hall, Boston, received a petition praying for a Charter to hold a Lodge of Masons in Watertown. The petition was granted and the Charter was signed by Paul Revere.
Wednesday, September 5, 1798, Meridian Lodge was Instituted at Watertown.
June 10, 1811, the Grand Lodge gave Meridian Lodge permission to change its location to Needham, now known as Wellesley Hills, Meridian Lodge having been located in Watertown less than thirteen years. The Lodge was located in Smith's Tavern, later known as Elm Park Hotel, which many of you will remember. It was demolished ten or twelve years ago.
September 13, 1843, Meridian Lodge was granted permission to move to Newton Lower Falls, and it was located in a building owned by Brother Charles Rice, about three hundred feet this side of the bridge.
In 1852, a band of Masons living in Natick and Sherborn petitioned Middlesex Lodge, of Framingham, for authority to apply to the Grand Lodge for permission to organize a Lodge at Natick. Middlesex Lodge, however, refused the request of these Brethren, but it so happened that during the nine years the Lodge was at Lower Falls there was much discord and differing factions nearly wrecked the Lodge. So at this time Brother Charles Rice, a member of Meridian Lodge, explained to the Natick and Sherborn Brethren that interest was lacking in the Lodge at Lower Falls and intimated that probably arrangements could be made to have Meridian Lodge transferred to Natick, where it was hoped to have a wider scope for its usefulness. The transfer was made and Malachi Babcock, Past Master of Middlesex, was first Master at Natick, and I. M. Fellows was the first candidate.
Meridian Lodge was first located in the Walter Morse Building on East Central Street, which building was destroyed by fire July 20, 1862. After rebuilding the apartments were again destroyed by, fire on January 13, 1874, as also was every public hall in town. The first meeting held in our present quarters was June 16, 1875.
In the latter part of the year 1826 an attack against Masonry Was made in the western part of New York State (shortly after the Morgan episode). It spread like an epidemic over the northern part of the country. In due time it reached Massachusetts and obtained many adherents. It caused a great deal of disturbance in all Masonic circles; it severed friendships and business and social relations; families were divided, fathers against sons, brothers against brothers. Children of Freemasons were excluded from the schools and finally the Legislature passed a law making it a criminal offence for any person to take an extra-judicial oath. This law remained on the statute book for many years during which no Mason could be made although Lodges met. On the thirty-first day of December, 1831, the celebrated memorial or paper entitled: "A Declaration of the Free Masons of Boston and Vicinity" was published. It contained six thousand names of Masons in Boston and vicinity. Its influence was widespread and the Institution was strengthened. The Brethren of Meridian Lodge who had the courage to sign this declaration were:
- Malachi Babcock
- William Shepard
- Nathaniel Wales
- Joshua Gardner
- Jeremiah Butler
- Moses Eames
- Asa Kingsbury
Natick has many things to remind us of the Rev. John Eliot. This gentleman was a Mason. The records of Massachusetts Lodge show that on January 11, 1779, a special meeting was ordered, called on emergency, and the Masonic degrees were conferred quietly and gratuitously upon two celebrated ministers of the town, the Rev. John Eliot and Rev. John Prince.
Although Meridian Lodge was chartered on December 11, 1797, the Charter was not signed until December 13, 1797, as shown by the following record of the Massachusetts Grand Lodge under date of September 10, 1804:
"It was voted that justice and equity require that all Lodges take rank in the Grand Lodge agreeably to the seniority of their Charter in conformity to the following schedule." Then follows a list of all Lodges. Among them are:
- Hiram Lodge, of Lexington, December 11, 1797.
- Meridian Lodge, of Watertown, December 13, 1797.
It was in 1804 that numbers were abolished in Massachusetts Blue Lodge in accordance with the vote of the Grand Lodge in June which was as follows: "All numbers now existing in the designation of Lodges shall be abolished because of great inconvenience having arisen on account of the numerical arrangement of some Lodges."
The date of the first meeting of Meridian Lodge is not known but it was probably between March and June of 1798 as no mention was made of Meridian Lodge at the meeting of the Grand Lodge in March, 1798, but under date of June 11, 1798, there is a record of returns having been made from Meridian Lodge by Brother Weld and mention of Meridian Lodge has been made at practically all of the Quarterly Meetings from then on.
The first District Deputy Grand Master for Meridian Lodge was R. W. John Boyle, of Boston, who was appointed December 10, 1804, Deputy for the First District which included Watertown. At that time there were twelve Districts in the Jurisdiction. The first three Masters of Meridian Lodge that we have been able to locate are:
- Gen. William Hull, 1798
- Joseph Pierce, 1801
- William Bond, 1803
Benjamin Gleason was the first Grand Lecturer and was appointed in 1805.
NOTES IN 50TH ANNIVERSARY HISTORY OF NORFOLK LODGE, MAY 1924
From Proceedings, Page 1924-76:
The Grand Lodge of Massachusetts dates back to July 30, 1733, and from this organized body Freemasonry was introduced into the town of Needham on June 10, 1811, nearly one hundred and thirteen years ago, when Meridian]Lodge was granted permission to change its location, after fourteen years' sojourn in the town of Watertown, to the town of Needham, in that part of the town which is now the town of Wellesley. The Charter for this Lodge was issued December 11, 1797. It was signed by Paul Revere, Grand Master. Meridian Lodge unfortunately on July 20, 1862, lost this precious document by fire. The Lodge met in Needham until September 13, 1843, a period of thirty-two years, at Smith's Tavern on the Boston and Worcester turnpike road. The structure was later known as Elm Park Hotel, but a few years ago was removed, its grounds now being used for park purposes. Many residents of Needham became members of Meridian Lodge, among them being Rt. Wor. Peter Lyon, who was Master in 1817. His son Peter was selectman of Needham for many years, and no doubt "Lyon's Bridge" in Greendale was named in memory of this old family. Wor. Seth Dewing received his degrees in 1809 and served as Master seven years. He died January 10, 1883, nearly ninety-five years old, having been for several years the oldest Mason in Massachusetts, a total of seventy-four years. Andrew Dewing, one of his ancestors, purchased an estate and settled in Needham in 1644, twenty-four years after the landing of the Pilgrims at Plymouth. Other Needham men belonging to Meridian Lodge were Ebenezer Fuller, James Smith, Simeon Grover, who was Junior Deacon about 1841, John Tolman, Thomas P. Weston, Royal McIntosh, Leonard Kingsbury, Luther Smith, Alvin Fuller, and many others.
150TH ANNIVERSARY HISTORY, DECEMBER 1947
From Proceedings, Page 1947-438:
By Right Worshipful William S. McRobert.
Many obstacles are met with when one attempts to write a history of an organization that has been in existence one hundred and fifty years and when practically all the early records of Meridian Lodge were destroyed by fire in 1862. What few facts we have been able to obtain have been located in old family and historical records and a treasurer's book, which in some manner escaped the fire.
Let us consider the conditions of the country at the time of the formation of Meridian Lodge, whose 150th anniversary we celebrate today.
The long tedious Revolution had been closed but a few years, but peace did not bring prosperity. The social conditions of the people had greatly deteriorated, commerce and manufacturers had been almost ruined, internal improvement had been stopped, and means of travel were crude and unsatisfactory.
These were the conditions confronting the little group of earnest Brethren who gathered together on that memorable day of December, 1797, to petition the Grand Lodge for a charter to establish a Lodge of Masons to be known as Meridian Lodge at Watertown.
Monday afternoon, December 11, 1797, the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, assembled in Concert Hall in Boston, received this petition; it was granted and the charter was signed by Paul Revere.
During the first half of the last century our Lodges led a sort of nomadic life, and like the Arab, would meet at one place and then silently fold its tent and move away. Meridian Lodge was no exception, being located in several places before coming to Natick. Our nearest neighbor, Montgomery Lodge, was during this same period located at Medway, Franklin and Milford.
Wednesday, September 5, 1798, Meridian Lodge was constituted at Watertown by Most Worshipful Josiah Bartlett, Grand Master, although under date of June 11, 1798, there is a record of returns having been made of Meridian Lodge by Brother Weld and mention of Meridian Lodge has been made at practically all the quarterly meetings from then on. We have in our possession the original gavel used by Most Worshipful Brother Bartlett at our constitution.
June 10, 1811, the Grand Lodge gave Meridian Lodge permission to change its location to Needham, now known as Wellesley Hills, our Lodge having been located in Watertown less than thirteen years. The Lodge was located in Smith's Tavern, later known as Elmpark Hotel, which some of you will remember. It was later demolished and is now the site of the Soldiers' Memorial, directly opposite our Worshipful Master's store.
September 13, 1820, Meridian Lodge petitioned the Grand Lodge for permission to return to Watertown, but the request was refused.
September 13, 1843, our Lodge was granted permission to move to Newton Lower Falls and was located in a building owned by Brother Charles Rice, about 300 feet this side of the bridge.
In 1852 a band of Masons living in Natick and Sherborn petitioned Middlesex Lodge of Framingham for authority to apply to the Grand Lodge for permission to organize a Lodge at Natick. Middlesex Lodge, however, refused the request, but it so happened that during the nine years the Lodge was at Lower Falls, there was much discord and differing factions nearly wrecked the Lodge.
At this time Brother Charles Rice, a member of Meridian Lodge, explained to the Natick and Sherborn Brethren that interest was lacking in the Lodge at Lower Falls and intimated that probably arrangements could be made to have Meridian Lodge transferred to Natick, where it was hoped to have a wider scope for its usefulness. The transfer was made and Malachi Babcock, Past Master of Middlesex, was the first Master at Natick. The Lodge was first located in the Walter Morse building on East Central Street, which building was destroyed by fire July 20, 1862. Our Lodge then secured quarters on the site of our present building, which also was destroyed in the largest fire Natick ever had, on January 13, 1874. The fire destroyed the entire section from Central Street to the railroad and Main Street to Washington except the Casey house, corner of Washington and Central Streets, which was the only building left standing. While we were without a hall, meetings were held at the homes of the Brethren until our present building was completed and our first meeting held here was June 16, 1875. We continued to rent apartments in this building until November 1, 1920, when the Masonic Fraternity purchased it from the Leonard Morse Hospital.
While at present our meetings are held on the third Wednesday of the month, in the early years, and until 1903, our by-laws called for meetings to be held Wednesday on or before the full of the moon. Probably this was so the Brethren would not have to come or go in the dark. One of our Brothers for years walked regularly to the meetings from the further end of Sherborn, always carrying an oil lantern.
Many of you have heard of the Morgan episode, which originated in New York State in the year 1826 as an attack against Masonry, and spread like an epidemic over the northern part of the country. In due time it reached Massachusetts and obtained many adherents. It caused a great deal of disturbance in all Masonic circles; it severed friendships and business and social relations; families were divided, fathers against sons, brothers against brothers. Children of Freemasons were excluded from schools and finally the legislature passed a law making it a criminal offense for any person to take an extra judical oath.
This law remained on the statute book for many years, during which no Mason could be made, although some Lodges met. A great many Lodges surrendered their charters, but Meridian Lodge charter was never surrendered. On the 31st day of December, 1831, the celebrated memorial or paper entitled, "A Declaration of the Free Masons of Boston and Vicinity," was published. It contained six thousand names of Masons in Boston and vicinity. Its influence was widespread and the institution was strengthened. The Brethren of our Lodge who had the courage to sign this declaration were: Malachi Babcock, William Sheppard, Nathaniel Wales, Joshua Gardner, Jeremiah Butler, Moses Eames and Asa Kingsbury.
For the benefit of our new members, I will give a few brief notes on the origin of Masonry, which is lost in obscurity. Many surmises have been made in regard to it, more or less fanciful, but to tell the truth, there are very few of them that are at all reliable or that can be looked upon as true and accurate. It is only within the last two centuries that we are able to give anything that can properly be called a history of our Fraternity.
During the Middle Ages many bands of artisans known as Free and Accepted Masons traveled over Europe erecting religious edifices, whose members were originally Greeks. They were endowed with certain privileges peculiar to themselves, among which was immunity from taxation, from which privilege they received the title of Free Masons. They held secret meetings and were divided into classes corresponding to the three degrees in present Freemasonry. They admitted into their ranks as honorary or accepted members those who were not operative Masons, used a symbolic language drawn from the implements of Masonry and were in possession of a secret mode of recognition. After filling the continent with churches and other religious edifices, these traveling Masons passed over to England, and later to Scotland. In the year 1717, there took place in the City of London what is called the revival or reorganization of Masonry. From that time we are enabled to trace our history with some degree of accuracy.
It is an amusing fact that the history of Masonry which was published a few years later and for many years considered veracious represented most of the prominent persons of the Bible, at least those of good reputation, as having been Grand Masters of Masons. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, indeed almost the whole catalogue of worthies of the Old Testament, were thus dignified. These notions have been thoroughly exploded during the present century, for it is only within that period that any considerable degree of knowledge has been acquired among the Fraternity, even in regard to the period of reorganization in 1717.
Many of you will no doubt be surprised to know that up to this period Masonry was a Roman Catholic Institution. Some of the history of the building of St. Peter's Cathedral at Rome may be interesting, and I quote as follows:
"Pope Julius II, Grand Master of Masons at Rome, ordered Bramante, his Grand Warden in 1503, to draw the designs for the new St. Peter's Cathedral in Rome.
"The footstone of great St. Peter's was leveled in due form in 1507.
"Bramante conducted the work for seven years and died in 1514 and was buried in the new cathedral by Pope Leo X, duly attended by his craftsmen, A.D. 1514.
"The next architect was Michael Angelo, who is recorded as having carried Masonry to its highest perfection until he died at Rome, February 17, 1564."
Several years after this reorganization which took place in 1717, the Duke of Norfolk in England took exceptions to some of the orders given to him by the Pope, which he believed were particularly cruel and unreasonable and finally resulted in the Duke of Norfolk absolutely refusing to comply with the Pope's request. This is when Masonry broke away from the Roman Catholic Church.
April 27, 1738, Pope Clement XII issued the famous bull denouncing Free Masons, forbidding them to assemble or for others to do business with them.
The first Grand Lodge ever held on this continent was organized July 30, 1733, at the Bunch of Grapes Tavern (Exchange Building), and was known as St. John's Grand Lodge and descended from the Grand Master of England, who gave a commission to Henry Price, an English Brother thirty-six years of age, who was then on a visit to England, he having settled in Massachusetts in 1723.
There were, however, many Masons in New England before our first Grand Lodge was organized. British Governor of New Jersey, Jonathan Belcher, was made a Mason in 1704 at Boston.
The first record of Masonry in America is contained in the history of Rhode Island, under date of 1656, as follows: "This day wee mett at ye house of Mordacai Campanell and gave Abram Moses the degrees of Masonrie."
Many Masons were prominent in the Revolutionary War. General Joseph Warren, while Grand Master of Masons, was killed at Bunker Hill. George Washington, while Master of his Lodge, was chosen as the first President of the United States. The Governors of the thirteen original States were every one a Master Mason.
At the time of our 125th anniversary, we had not been able to locate the names of the early Masters between William Hull, 1797-1798, and Peter Lyon, 1805, but since then we have found that Nathaniel Weld was Master, 1799-1800, Joseph Pierce, 1801, William Bond, 1802 and 1804, and only last month we have found in the Grand Lodge records that Benjamin L. White was Master in 1846.
On account of the loss of our records, we have not much information about our early Masters, of whom we are very proud, but histories and libraries contain many pages of the valiant deeds of the first Master of Meridian Lodge, General William Hull. He served on the Staff of Commander-in-Chief of the Army George Washington, and Congress gave him a special vote of thanks for his services. He also received a public expression of gratitude from General Washington.
In 1798, while Master of Meridian Lodge, he was sent to France by President Adams to smooth out difficulties which threatened war between France and the United States. On his return, he was appointed Judge of the Court of Common Pleas and he was also elected Major General of the State Militia. He was State Senator from 1798 to 1805, when he was appointed by President Thomas Jefferson to be Governor of the Territory of Michigan.
NOTES IN CENTENARY HISTORY OF PEQUOSSETTE LODGE, DECEMBER 1957
From Proceedings, Page 1957-233:
The first Masonic body organized in Watertown was Meridian Lodge, chartered on December 11, 1797, having a jurisdiction embracing the towns between Boston and Concord, and concerning the early history of which little is positively known. For reasons unknown, Meridian Lodge was moved to that part of Needham now known as Wellesley Hills, on June 10, 1811, and was again moved to Newton Lower Falls on September 13, 1843. In 1852, a number of Masons wishing to organize a Lodge in Natick, applied for dispensation in Framingham, but were denied. They then decided that perhaps Newton Lower Falls, being nearer than Framingham, would suit their purpose, and upon consultation with the officials, were told that Masonry in Meridian Lodge was at a low ebb and it was suggested that the Lodge be moved to Natick. This was done by permission of the Grand Lodge on March 10, 1852.
The original charter, all the furnishings, and practically all of the records of Meridian Lodge were destroyed by fire in July 1862, but in an old book of the Treasurer, under the date of 1798, the following names of members who were residents of Watertown appear, and it is presumed that they were charter members: William Bond, William Hunt, Daniel Jackson, John Meacham and Nathaniel Wales.
John Meacham was the first Secretary, and William Hunt was the first Treasurer. Nathaniel Wales became Treasurer in 1811.
Other Watertown residents whose names are recorded were Jonathan Robbins, who became Secretary on July 1, 1811, and Samuel Wellington, who became Treasurer in April 1801.
Gen. William Hull of Newton was the first Master of Meridian Lodge. He had served as Junior Warden in Washington Lodge, a traveling military Lodge which was chartered by Massachusetts Grand Lodge in 1779.
During the crisis precipitated by the Morgan episode in 1826, it was customary to vary the place of meeting from town to town; members drove to the appointed place, carrying guns with them to ward off possible danger from anti-Masonic sympathizers and spending the night in the town where the meetings were held. Many Lodges went underground and many suspended operation.
NOTES IN 50TH ANNIVERSARY HISTORY OF WELLESLEY LODGE, MAY 1962
From Proceedings, Page 1962-102:
Meridian Lodge, located in Natick since 1852, was chartered in Watertown in 1797. On June 10, 1811, this Lodge voted, with the approval of the Grand Lodge, to change its location to the section of Needham now known as Wellesley Hills, where meetings until 1843 were held in Smith's Tavern, a building on the Boston & Worcester Turnpike erected some years before. This building will be remembered by many of our older Brethren as it was operated later under the name of Elm Park Hotel, the location of which is now marked by a graceful clock tower.
Meridian Lodge was for many years the Masonic Home for Wellesley Masons, and properly it has a place in any history of Masonry in Wellesley.
. . . Meridian Lodge, although not jurisdictionally affected, passed the following resolution and sent it to the Grand Lodge:
That Meridian Lodge commend and encourage the Brethren at Wellesley in their efforts to organize and establish a Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons in that town and extend to them our hearty support and fraternal good wishes in their ultimate success.
200TH ANNIVERSARY HISTORY, MAY 1998
From Proceedings, Page 1998-49:
The text that follows is excerpted from the "History of Meridian Lodge A. F. & A. M. of Natick, Massachusetts" printed by Natick Citizen Company in 1892. Credit is due and should be given to the Committee of Charles C. Henry. D. H. L. Gleason and I. M. Fellows who were responsible for creating this History.
On Monday afternoon, December 11th, 1797, The Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons held its annual stated communication in what was then known as Concert Hall, in Boston, Massachusetts. From the records of the Grand Lodge of the above date we copy the following:
"A petition from William Hull and others praying for a charter to hold a Lodge in the town of Watertown by the name of Meridian Lodge, was received and duly recommended. Voted, That the prayer of the petition be granted."
On this date the Charter was granted and signed by Most Worshipful Paul Revere, Grand Master — Sam'l Dunn, Deputy Grand Master — Isaiah Thomas, Senior Grand Warden — Joseph Laughton, Junior Grand Warden — By Order of The Grand Lodge: Daniel Oliver, Grand Secretary.
At this point we regret to record the fact that the original charter, and all the record-books and papers of the Lodge, with the exception of the original treasurer's account-book, were destroyed by fire in Natick, Massachusetts, at the burning of Walter Morse's block on Pond Street, July 1862, in which building Meridian Lodge was then located.
Owing to this lamentable loss, the history of the Lodge from the date of its charter until September, 1862, must of necessity be very meager and unsatisfactory. We learn from very reliable authority, however, that Meridian Lodge was duly and formally constituted at Watertown on the fifth day of September, 1798; and that the late Gen. William Hull was its first Worshipful Master. The Rev. and Rt. Wor. Bro. T. M. Harris, Grand Chaplain, performed the consecrating ceremonies, and the Most Worshipful Grand Master Josiah Bartlett, M. D., delivered a pertinent address and charge, followed by an address by the Worshipful Master Bro. William Hull. We copy the following newspaper report of the occasion from the Boston Sentinel, published a few days after the event:
MASONIC INSTALLATION (Should read "Constitution") AT WATERTOWN
Behold the acorn, from a tender root
Puts forth a weak and unregarded shoot;
But Nature's faithful process once begun,
It gains new strength with each revolving sun;
Till its firm stem the raging storm defies,
And its bold branches wave amidst the skies.
On Wednesday, September fifth, 1798, the Meridian Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons was instituted in ample order at Watertown, The Rev. Bro. Eliot introduced the formalities by prayer. Vocal and instrumental music followed; the former from original compositions by Mr. Samuel Babcock.
The Rev. Mr. Bentley then pronounced an ingenious, learned, and historical discourse, in which the Robinsons of Europe were exposed in all their imperfections, and the craft ably, boldly, and candidly vindicated.
The Rev. Bro. Harris, Grand Chaplain, performed the consecrating duties, and the M. W. Grand Master and Wor. Bro. Hull each delivered pertinent and adapted charges.
The fraternity then repaired to one of the best entertainments ever furnished so large an assembly, and which did infinite honor to Br. Welles, the provider.
After dinner patriotic toasts were given, and the Lodges closed at an early hour. Among the toasts, after the Grand Lodge had retired, was the following, which for point is rarely equaled; May we never have a war without a Washington, a Shay without a Lincoln, nor a Morse without a Bentley.
After dinner Bro. Williamson, Bro. Jackson, and several assisting brethren, gave a number of Masonic airs, and the patriotic songs of "Adams and Liberty," "Hail Columbia," etc., in the most finished style of melody. The following are the toasts given by the R. W. Master of Meridian Lodge:
- The President of the United States.
- Brother Washington: The ornament of Masonry and of men.
- Most Worshipful Josiah Bartlett: May his exertions in the cause of Masonry be crowned with a never-fading laurel.
- May universal relief be afforded to our distressed brethren.
- A generous enemy whose light is not darkness.
- May the light of every good Mason be kindled in life, enlighten his death, and blaze through eternity.
- Regular constituted Lodges; May they ever keep in view the principles of the order.
- The American Fair; May their virtues never want defenders while Masonry exists.
- May the virtue of Freemasonry in America ever be a positive contradiction of the principles of the illuminate.
- May virtue and honor ever distinguish the craft.
- The Reverend clergy, May their exertions in the cause of religion ever be crowned with success.
- May the fragrance of a good report, like a sprig of acacia, bloom over the head of every departed brother.
- Liberty and Independence, the blessings which are purchased by our valor; May they descend unsullied to posterity.
- May all Free and Accepted Masons prefer the luxury of doing good to all other luxuries.
- The Arts and Sciences.
- The Day.
June 10, 1811
Nothing of importance can be learned from the date of institution up to the present time except that on this date (June 10, 1811) the Most Worshipful Grand Master in Grand Lodge granted to the members of Meridian Lodge permission to change their location from Watertown to Needham, Norfolk County, Mass., now known as Wellesley Hills; the Lodge having been located in Watertown less than fourteen years. The home of the Lodge in Needham (Wellesley Hills) was in what was then known as Smith's Tavern, on the Boston and Worcester Turnpike, and kept by Bro. David Smith, who erected the building a few years before the removal of the Lodge. The building is now known as the Elm Park Hotel.
At the dedication of their Hall in this building, which took place at a regular communication on the afternoon of July first, 1811, the Rev. Bro. Charles Train, A. M., minister of the Baptist Society in Framingham, Mass., pronounced a dedicatorial sermon before the Lodge. At the close of the sermon it was voted unanimously, "That Brothers Peter Lyon, Enoch Wiswall, and Solomon Curtis be a committee to wait on Rev. Bro. Charles Train and thank him for his truly Masonic address delivered this afternoon, and request a copy for the press."
From June 10, 1811, to Sept. 13, 1843, we have no reliable record of the doings of the Lodge, simply the names of brethren, which have been culled from the accounts of the treasurer's book which can be found under the head of "Past and Present Members of the Lodge." We have, however, the following clippings from the Boston Sentinel, and "The Churchman's Magazine," published in June and October 1813, respectively:
The Festival of St. John's will be celebrated by Meridian Lodge June 24th. The brethren of the Masonic Family are invited to attend.
A discourse will be delivered by Rev. and R. Wor. Bro. T. N. Harris. The brethren will meet at Bro. D. Smith's Hall [Elm Park Hotel] in Needham [Wellesley Hills] at 10 o'clock, A. M. ,where tickets for brethren and ladies may be had. The procession will move to the Meetinghouse (West Parish) at half past 10 o'clock. Per order:
June 9, 1813 ISAAC TRAIN
(From "The Churchman's Magazine for October, 1813.)
LAYING OF THE CORNER-STONE, ST. MARY'S CHURCH, NEWTON.
On Wednesday last (Sept. 29, 1813) the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of this Commonwealth, by the permission of the Most Worshipful Grand Master, assembled at Newton, under the direction of the Right Worshipful Francis J. Oliver, Esq., and organized in ample form, were escorted by Meridian Lodge and the Church and congregation to the platform erected in front of the site of the Church, when the interesting and solemn ceremonies were preceded by sacred and appropriate music.
The Right Worshipful Deputy Grand Master having pronounced the stone to be perfect in its form, and suitable to the occasion, the Rev. Dr. Gardiner of Trinity was requested to deposit the silver plate, after reading the inscription, which was as follows:
"In the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost! This stone, by permission of the Honorable and Right Worshipful Timothy Bigelow, Esq., Grand Master, on the festival of St. Michael and all Angels, 1813, was laid by Francis Johonot Oliver, Esq., Deputy G. M., assisted by the Rev. John Sylvester Gardiner, D.D.. Rector of Trinity Church, and the Rev. Asa Eaton, Rector of Christ Church, Boston.
"God save the Church and State!"
ON THE REVERSE:
"St. Mary's Chapel, founded 1812; incorporated 1813. His Excellency Caleb Strong, Esq., LL. D., Governor; His Honor William Phillips, Esq., Lieutenant-Governor; the Right Reverend Father-in-God, Alexander V., by Divine Providence, of the Eastern Diocese, Bishop.
"The land annexed to this Church, containing two acres, is a donation from Samuel Brown, Esq., merchant, of Boston."
- Rev. Asa Eaton, Rector.
- Solomon Curtis,
- Wardens of St. Mary's Chapel
- Thomas Durant
These newspaper clippings indicate that in June, 1813, Meridian Lodge celebrated St. John's Day in due and ancient form; and that they acted as escort to the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge on September 29, 1813, at the laying of the cornerstone of St. Mary's Episcopal Church at Newton Lower Falls, which is still used as a house of worship by the above named society.
On the 13th day of September, 1843, permission was granted the members of Meridian Lodge to again change their location to Newton Lower Falls, and it is so recorded in the Grand Lodge. We learn from tradition that they then occupied the Wales Tavern, at Newton Lower Falls, and for a short time held meetings at Newton Upper Falls. Its last location in that vicinity, however, was in the building then owned by Bro. Gen Charles Rice, situated about three hundred feet this side of the bridge which spans the Charles River between the then known towns of Needham and Newton. The building in which the Lodge-room was fitted up was a large dwelling house, and is still standing on the original site just near the bridge, on the right hand side as you cross it going towards Newton.
We learn that shortly after the location of the Lodge in this place discord arose among the brethren, and factions were created which nearly wrecked the Lodge. A faithful few, however, foremost of whom was our late brother, Gen. Charles Rice, held the brethren together, and retained the charter.
In 1851, a little band of Masonic brethren in Natick and vicinity, among whom were Dr. John Joyt, John M. Seaward, Sr., Wor. Malachi Babcock, Charles Herring, Dr. John Wilson, and John Fetch, being desirous of improving themselves in the mysteries of the "Royal Art," formed themselves into a Lodge of Instruction, and called upon Wor. Bro. Malachi Babcock, then of Sherborn, to preside over them. In the winter of 1852 there was a strong desire manifested by this little company of faithful and zealous Master Masons to organize a Lodge in Natick. A committee was appointed from among their number, of which Wor. Bro. Malachi Babcock was chairman, to request from Middlesex Lodge, located at Framingham, permission to petition the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge for a dispensation to organize a Lodge at Natick. The request was refused by Middlesex Lodge deeming it inadvisable to have a Lodge so near their location. For a short time the brethren were disheartened and nonplused as to the next step to take, when it occurred to them that the location of Meridian Lodge, at Needham, was nearer to Natick than Framingham, and therefore held legal jurisdiction over that territory. Accordingly the committee took new courage, and consulted at once with the brethren of Meridian Lodge in reference to granting them permission to petition the Grand Lodge. Gen. Charles Rice, then a prominent member of Meridian Lodge, mentioned above, informed the committee that the interest in Freemasonry was then at a very low ebb in that vicinity; and suggested that they enter into a compact to have Meridian Lodge transferred to Natick where it was hoped it would have a wider scope for usefulness. This agreement was gladly entered into by the Natick Brethren, and the necessary dispensation for the transfer of Meridian Lodge to Natick was granted by Rev. G. M. Randall, D. D., Most Wor. Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, March 10, 1852. In the same month the first communication of Meridian Lodge was called in Natick for organization. Wor. Bro. Malachi Babcock a Past Master of Middlesex Lodge, Framingham, was elected Wor. Master; thus entitling him to the honor of first Worshipful Master of Meridian Lodge in Natick. Bro. Isaac M. Fellows was the first candidate for degrees in the Lodge at Natick and is now (1892) a living member of the Lodge.
We learn that the Lodge continued to flourish with more or less success until July 20, 1862, when it was located in the Walter Morse building, on East Central street. On that date the building caught fire, and nearly or quite all the property of the Lodge was destroyed by the devouring flames, including the charter and records of the Lodge; which serious loss is and always will be regretted; for at that time the record of the Lodge from December 1797 until July 1862 was destroyed in a few short hours; also the charter which bore the signature of that distinguished patriot and zealous Mason; Past Grand Master Paul Revere. The brethren however were not disheartened, and at once proceeded to provide for the immediate future of the Lodge. A special communication was at once called to meet at the house of the Worshipful Masters Alvin Fuller, on the evening of July 21,1862. At this meeting Alvin Fuller, W. M., and Bros. J. M. Seaward, Sr., John W. Bacon (afterwards Judge Bacon), James H. Parker, and Nathan Reed were elected to petition the Most Wor. Grand Lodge for a new charter in placed of the one destroyed at the recent fire. A committee was also appointed to provide a suitable hall for Lodge meetings.
July 28, 1862. A Special Communication was held at which Bros. J. H. Parker, Sen. Warden, and J. M. Seaward, Treasurer, were appointed to collect the money due from Dorchester Insurance Company on account of recent loss by fire.
August 6, 1862. Regular Communication. A committee consisting of Bros. Secretary L. R. Edgerton, Treasurer J. M. Seaward, and George L. Sawin to repair and furnish the hall.
September 3, 1862. First meeting in Masonic Hall since fire; Regular Communication and official visit of D. D. Grand Master Henry Goddard. The dispensation from the Grand Master was read.
THE FOLLOWING ARE EXCERPTS FROM THE MINUTES OF MERIDIAN LODGE
FROM OCTOBER 1, 1862 THROUGH OCTOBER 1, 1892
THAT MAY BE OF INTEREST.
October 21, 1863. Annual Communication and first meeting held in new hall fitted up in Walcott Block facing the Common on the west side, between West Central and Pond streets. Br. James H. Parker elected Worshipful Master.
November 9, 1864. Official visit of D. D. Grand Master Rev. J. W. Dadmun, accompanied by Most Wor. William Parkman, Grand Master of Freemasons in Massachusetts, who installed Wor. Master Malachi Babcock and officers elect for the ensuing year.
July 21, 1869. First Communication in new Masonic Hall, Morse's Block, which stood on the present site of Masonic Block. This hall was furnished at a cost of $1842.27; a portion of which was voluntarily contributed by brethren of the Lodge. The first hall occupied by the Lodge after the fire, was located in Clark's Building, comer of West Central and Main streets.
November 1, 1876. Seventy-ninth Annual Communication: Total Membership 179. It was voted to increase the dues from $2.00 per annum to $3.00.
May 7, 1879. Voted, To grant the use of Masonic apartments to Aurora Chapter O. E. S. for an unlimited time, the rent to be agreed upon later.
November, 1881. Rev. Bro. Horatio Alger died today. He was the pastor for many years of the Unitarian Church at South Natick and for a long period Chaplain of the Lodge. He was the father of Horatio Alger, Jr., who has attained a world-wide reputation as an author of boys' story-books.
January 4, 1882. A vote of thanks was tendered this evening to Brothers Oliver Wood, and George Brierly of Meridian Lodge, and Wor. Brother Julius M. Woods of Montgomery Lodge of Milford, for the gift to the Lodge of an appropriate sign, which has been placed over the stairway leading up to the Masonic Apartments. (The sign is over the stairway to this day).
April 9, 1884. Regular Communication: Worked Master Mason's degree, 181 visitors, and 110 members of Meridian Lodge present, 61 Lodges from six States and countries represented. (To have this attendance in our present time would certainly be a pleasant experience.)
July 22, 1885. On motion of Charles C. Henry, the following design, which had been prepared by vote of the Lodge, was adopted as the official heading for its notices, letters, papers, etcetera: The above device was designed by Brother Secretary John Rockwood and is in use to this day.
- 1811 (Petition granted to remove to Needham, II-483)
- 1820 (Petition refused to remove to Watertown, III-324)
- 1824 (Petition granted to remove to Newton Lower Falls, III-498)
- 1843 (Petition granted to remove to Newton Lower Falls, IV-601, IV-605)
- 1862 (Petition granted for a replacement charter, VI-421)
- 1912 (Jurisdictional dispute, 1912-2160
- 1913 (Participation in cornerstone laying, 1913-175)
- 1933 (Petition denied to reduce fees, 1933-515)
- 1936 (Reduction of fees approved, 1936-130)
HALL DEDICATION, JUNE 1827
From Masonic Mirror and Mechanics' Intelligencer, Vol. III, No. 28, July 1827, Page 218:
At Newton, Lower Falls, a beautiful Hall, finished for the use of Meridian Lodge, was consecrated on the 25th inst. to the purposes for which it had been prepared. A Dedicatory Sermon was pronounced by the Rev. Mr. Cutler of Quincy.
On the same day Meridian Lodge, assisted by several others, commemorated the Nativity of St. John. Rev. Mr. Huntoon of Canton delivered the Address. The solemnities of the day are spoken of in the highest terms, as being interesting, manly, and impressive.
The following regular toasts were pronounced after the chief exercises at the table.
- The M. W. Grand Lodge of Massachusetts; Its claims to our gratitude gladly acknowledged; its drafts on our obedience readily honored.
- The Twenty-fourth of June; Sanctified by the Nativity we commemorate; As it was in the beginning, so be it now, henceforth and forever.
- The Temple this day consecrated to the service of God and humanity; may it never be desecrated by the entrance of any unholy thing.
- The Order of the Day; Internal Improvements; Physical, Mental, Moral and Matrimonial; may he or she, who refuses to unite heart and hand in the sentiment, speedily be posted.
- The Enemies of our Institution; To nine-tenths of them more light - to the other tenth, more honesty!
- Amalgamation; to all honest men and women.
- Freemen's Jewels; Free Schools, a Free Press, Free Trade, and Free-Masonry.
- Our Father's Children; Inheriting the Freedom, may they possess the Virtues of their ancestors.
- Our visiting Brothers - they have strengthened our hearts; Our visiting Sisters - they have gladdened our hearts.
RETURN TO MEETING, MAY 1843
From Moore's Freemason's Monthly, Vol. I, No. 9, July 1843:
Framingham, May 11, 1843.
Br. Moore :—Will you allow me room in your Magazine to say, that Meridian Lodge, at Newton Lower Falls, (formerly at Needham,) after a considerable period of inaction, has been recently put in working order, and the Brethren an again assembling around the sacred altar of Friendship, Unity and Brotherly Love. The Lodge held a regular meeting on Wednesday evening, the 10th instant, when the officers elect, for the ensuing year, were duly installed according to ancient usage, by R. W. Jona. Greenwood, D. D. G. M. for the 4th District. The Installation services being concluded, at 8 o'clock the doors were opened to the public, when an interesting and appropriate discourse was pronounced by Rev. Br. Wm. Barry, of Framingham. The services were enlivened by singing, in which many joined with voice and heart; and were concluded with Prayer by Br. J. O. Skinner, of Framingham, and a benediction by Rev. Br. Baury, of Newton. The Brethren of the Lodge, and visiting friends, afterwards partook of a collation, and separated with renewed attachment and zeal for Ancient Freemasonry. The Brethren at Newton have a good Hall, over the Hotel of Br. Nath'l Wales, and they seem to be turning their whole hearts towards the upbuilding and decorating of the desolated walls of their spiritual Jerusalem. May peace and prosperity ever be with them, and the wisdom of the Great Archi¬ tect, and his abounding goodness, guide them, in all their labors and crown them with abundant success!
Yours, Fraternally, J. O. S.
PRESENTATION, DECEMBER 1857
From Moore's Freemason's Monthly, Vol. XVII, No. 3, January 1858:
Br. C. W. Moore, — In compliance with a vote of Meridian Lodge, I have enclosed to you the address of Br. B. F. Bowles and the Worshipful Master's reply (for the Freemasons' Magazine.) The address was suggested by the presentation of a beautiful silver Pitcher and Salver, purchased by members of the Lodge, at a cost of forty dollars.
The gift was well merited ami justly deserved. Br. Babcock has served as W. Master since the Lodge was established at Natick, except one year, and although living some distance from the place of meeting, he has seldom been absent.
Yours truly, J. B. Fairbanks, Sec'y. Meridian Lodge.
Natick, Dec. 9th, 1857.
Worshipful Master. — As the servant of members of Meridian Lodge, and with great pleasure to myself, permit me, so far as my imperfect words may enable me, to give utterance to the sentiments of respect and esteem we cherish for you.
For your many good qualities as a man and a citizen, — qualities, which, while they secure the faithful discharge of your duties as such, give the best and most beautiful expression to the principles of our beloved Order, and thus secure for it a just respect, — for these we honor you.
The untiring zeal with which you have so long labored to promote the interests of our Fraternity, and thus of the world ; your industry in acquiring the know ledge of our sacred mysteries requisite to success in this ; and especially to fit you to instruct and govern us as our Master, have elicited our highest admiration.
For the justice, fidelity to the laws of Masonry, and the urbanity with which you have discharged the varied functions of this office, we thank you.
Let the pleasure we all derive from this expression of our sentiments, be the ex cuse for this frankness, and for the wounds we thus inflict upon your proverbial modes ty So long careful for our happiness, we trust you would not deprive us of this.
And now, beloved Brother, as a more tangible and lasting expression of these sentiments, receive this plate.
When in your home it shall greet your eye, may it be suggestive of the greeting that shall ever wait in our hearts for you.
As from these articles you receive the blessings of life, permit us to hope that you will take therefrom the memory and assuranco of our love. And if they shall be so kept and honored as to descend to your children, or children's children, may they speak to them of the fraternal love and appreciation of virtue that should be ever found in the hearts of Masons. And may the Grand Master of us all, bless thee and thine forever.
Brethren of Meridian Lodge: — It is true that I have endeavored to manifest some interest in our Fraternity. When greater or more immediate interests would permit, I have attended our communications. So far as abte I have sought the preparation necessary to make myself of some use while here. If as you have so kindly intimated I have in any degree been succesful, the thought now gives me the greatest pleasure.
You know I am no speech-maker ; I cannot make one now ; but let me assure you that for this manifestation of your confidence, for these words of approval, and for this rich gift, I am grateful.
HALL DEDICATION, JULY 1875
From New England Freemason, Vol. II, No. 7, July 1875, Page 359:
Dedication of a new Masonic Hall at Natick, Mass. — R.W. Charles A. Welch, Deputy Grand Master, assisted by the officers of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, dedicated the new hall of Meridian Lodge to the purposes of Freemasonry, in due form, on Friday evening, July 16th. The ceremony was attentively observed by a numerous assembly of ladies and members of the Craft. A quartette of male and female voices rendered very beautifully the musical portion of the exercises. The Deputy Grand Master closed the services with an oppropriate address, commending the brethren for the zeal, good taste and liberality manifested in the preparation of the new apartments, so much superior to those which were destroyed by fire a few months ago. He urged upon them increased zeal in perfecting the inner life of Masonry, that it might correspond with the outward beauty and adornment they were now to enjoy in their new halls.
The ladies and Brethren, to the number of about two hundred, then repaired to the banquet-hall and enjoyed an elegant collation. After a humorous speech from the Deputy Grand Master, the Grand Officers hurried away to take the train, and arrived in Boston about 11 o'clock.
INSTALLATION, DECEMBER 1882
From Liberal Freemason, Vol. VI, No. 9, December 1882, Page 284:
Natick, Dec. 14th.— One of the most brilliant receptions and dinners given in this town was held this evening, it having been tendered by the recently installed Worshipful Master of Meridian Lodge, A. F. and A. M., H. G. Wood, Esq., to his suite of officers, and Worshipful Past Masters of Meridian and other Lodges, consisting of the following gentlemen: Wor. Past Masters, George J. Townsend, M. D., D. H. L. Gleason, Silas H. Bent, and Edward H. Wilson.
Suite of Officers: S. W., Dr. Frederick Lewis; J. W., Silas H. Whitcomb; Treasurer, Charles H. Whitcomb; Secretary, Silas E. Simonds; Marshal, Oscar S. Walker; Chaplain, Rev. A. Hammatt; S. D., Charles C. Henry; J. D., Frank H. Hall; S. S., Fred Reed; J. S., Charles W. Messenger; Tyler, Aaron Bellam; Worshipful Past Masters, Charles P. Knowlton of Alpha Lodge, and Julius M. Wood of Montgomery Lodge of Milford. The above named were received by Mr. Wood at his residence on Washington Street, where a sumptuous dinner was served.
SPECIAL MEETING, APRIL 1884
From Liberal Freemason, Vol. VIII, No. 1, April 1884, Page 29:
Meridian Lodge in Natick has obtained much notoriety for the painstaking manner of doing the work. As a consequence, the meeting on Wednesday evening April 9th was attended by one hundred and ten members, and nearly or quite two hundred visiting brethren. Worshipful Master Wood and his associates in office have given much attention to rehearsals, and their reward is found in the unstinted praise of their perfect work. The Third Degree was exemplified to the instruction not only of the candidates but also of all in attendance. A collation was served at the close to the entire company.
INSTALLATION, NOVEMBER 1884
From Liberal Freemason, Vol. VIII, No. 9, December 1884, Page 286:
This old Lodge celebrated its Eighty-eighth Annual Installation in its hall in Natick, Mass., on the evening of Nov. 19th, last, and we notice the ladies are credited for the beautiful arrangement of plants and flowers used in decorating the hall.
The retiring Master, Bro. Henry G. Wood, has labored assiduously in perfecting the work of the Lodge, and so well has he succeeded that the large hall has been constantly filled on working nights with members and visitors.
On this occasion, opportunity was taken to present a Past Master's Jewel to Brother Wood, valued at about $200. It is beautifully wrought in gold, set with diamonds and rubies, so arranged as to give the best effect to the several parts when put together as designed. On the back is the inscription, "Members of Meridian Lodge to Worshipful Past Master Henry Gage Wood, Natick, November 19th, 1884."
A banquet provided in the banquet hall by Brother James Downs was served at the close, and was followed by speech-making. The officers for the ensuing year are: W. M., Frederick Lewis; S. W., Charles C. Henry; J. W., Oscar S. Walker; Treasurer, Charles H. Whitcomb; Secretary, John Rockwood; Marshal, William C. Bellam; Chaplain, Rev. Joseph P. Sheafe, Jr.; S. D., James H. Gilligan; J. D., Charles W. Bates; S. S., Clarence A. Brown; J. S., George H. Jackson; J. S., John M. Blair; Organist, Marshal L. Eaton; Tyler, Edward L. Greenwood.
INSTALLATION, NOVEMBER 1886
From Liberal Freemason, Vol. X, No. 9, December 1886, Page 283:
The 90th annual installation of officers in Meridian Lodge, F. and A. M. occurred on Wedneeday, Nov. 10th, 1886, in the presence of a large number of members of the lodge, and of brethren from neighboring-lodges. The services were performed by the retiring Master, W. Bro. Frederick Lewis, assisted by R. W. H. G. Wood as Marshal, and Rev. Bro. W. W. Hayward as Chaplain. The officers installed are: W. M., C. C. Henry; S. W., J. H. Gilligan; J. W., C. J. Wood; Treasurer, C. H. Whitcomb; Secretary, J. Rockwood; Chaplain, R. H. Randall; Marshal, E. H. Wilson; S. D., C. F. Soule; J. D., G. O. Allen; S. S., F. E. Woods; J. S., J. E. Atwood; I. S., J. B. Jones; Organist, M. L. Eaton; Tyler, O. S. Walker.
After the ceremony of installation. W. Bro.. S. H. Bent claimed attention, and in behalf of associates presented to Wor. Master Henry an elegant Master's Apron, in a neat speech, wherein was included the fact that nine years ago that night he had been made a Mason by the speaker. Following this. R. W. Bro. Wood, in behalf of Meridian Lodge, presented a Past Master's jewel to "Wor. Past Master Frederick Lewis," under date of "Nov. 10th, A. L. 5886." Brother Wood reminded the brethren that the lodge was following an old custom, first used by it in 1798, when it gave Peter Lyon, its first Master, a Past Master's Jewel. The jewel presented to Bro. Lewis is of gold, set with diamonds, and elegantly wrought by Bro. T. D. Gard, of Worcester. This presentation over, Bro. E. S. Dodge arose, and in behalf ol friends of Wor. Bro. Lewis, presented him with a Past Master's Apron in a complimentary speech, expressive of the regard in which he was held by his brethren.
We have not space for these three speeches, all of them good, but they indicate a most brotherly state of feeling in the lodge. At the close, all the brethren were invited to a banquet, served under the care of Caterer Bro. James Downs, which guarantees that it was a good one. We venture to add that the first public installation we ever attended was in this lodge, about twenty-four years ago; the installing officers being R. W. John W. Dadmun, assisted by R. W. Charles W. Moore, and ourself as Marshal.
INSTALLATION, NOVEMBER 1887
On Monday evening, Nov. 28, 1887, the officers of Meridian Lodge, Natick, Mass., were installed for the ninetieth time, in the presence of a "large and brilliant assemblage," the ceremony being performed by R. W. Edwin Wright, with Rev. Bro. W. W. Hayward, Chaplain, and Wor. James K. Odell. Marshal. The hall was neatly and richly decorated with ferns and flowers; the Band alternated with the Weber Quartette in music. instrumental and vocal, and all the numbers in the programme were rendered in a highly finished manner.
The officers are: Wor. Charles Casper Henry, Master; James H. Gilligan, S. W.; Chester F. Soule, J. W.; Charles H. Whitcomb, Treas.; John Rockwood, Sec.; Rev. Charles H. Walters, Chaplain; Frederick Lewis, Marshal; John A. Wood, S. D.; George O. Allen, J. D.; Frank E. Wood, S. S.; Joseph E. Atwood, J. S.; Waldo Stone, I. S.; F. H. Pratt, Org.; Aaron Bellum, Tyler.
During the evening a Past Master's Jewel and Apron was presented to Wor. Bro. Henry. The former by members of the Lodge, for whom Hon. Bro. C. Q. Tirrell spoke; the latter by Wor. Bro. James Wood, of Montgomery Lodge, Milford, who represented the brethren connected, as Wor. Brother Henry is, with the B. and A. Railroad. The speeches were good in all cases, and highly creditable to all concerned. That by Brother Tirrell we have at length and hope to print it in our next number, because of its sound Masonic character.
The jewel proper is 2 1-4 inches long, and the arc of the base extends 2 3-8 inches. Upon the joint of the compasses, rests a large and brilliant solitaire diamond, and upon the gold plate enclosed between the compasses and square is a cluster of seven smaller diamonds. The square and arc have each a border of double lines, which with the cross lines of measurement and the figures, are in black enamel, raised upon a surface which is slightly frosted. The jewel is attached by a link of gold to the heading which bears the strong pin. This heading consists of a band of golden links simulating ribbon, terminated below by a solid gold plate of tasteful outline, the lower border engraved to resemble fringe, the other decorated with outline in black enamel. At the top is a lambrequin of solid gold, on which appears "Chas. C. Henry." From the lower border of this lambrequin is suspended an oval plate of gold. Upon its border are the words "Meridian Lodge, A. F. and A. M., chartered A. L. 5797," and in the centre is placed a large ornamental G., within which is seen an altar with Bible, square and compasses upon it, and the sun above shedding rays of light upon it, all the letters and lines being in black enamel.
There is a pennant above the lambrequin held in the centre by a hand, all gold, the words Lux E. Tenebris in black on the pennant. Upon the back of the jewel is the inscription, "From members of the Meridian Lodge to P. W. M. Chas. C. Henry, Natick, Mass., Nov. 27, 1887." It was designed and made by Bro. Gard of Worcester.
The Bast Master's apron is of white satin with blue silk border and with golden bands and heavy gold fringe. Upon the centre lower border is a Past Master's jewel in gold embroidery, and at each lower corner crossed sprays in same material, while upon the lapel appears the All-seeing Eye in a glory, all in gold embroidery, the letters M. L. in old English are upon two blue ribbons falling from under the lapel. Upon a golden plate upon the lining of the lapel is engraved the inscription, "Presented by the B. & A. R. R. Brethren, Nov. 28, 1887."
WASHINGTON'S BIRTHDAY, FEBRUARY 1888
From Liberal Freemason, Vol. XI, No. 12, March 1888, Page 374:
During the evening of February 22d, 1888, Meridian Lodge, in Natick, Mass., emphasized the anniversary of Washington's Birthday in a more than ordinarily interesting manner.
Worshipful Master Charles C. Henry, invited notice of the one hundred fifty sixth anniversary of the birth of that illustrious Craftsman, and read certain correspondence between him and the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, in illustration of his attachments to Freemasonry.
A committee had been appointed to procure a life-size crayon portrait of the first Worshipful Master of the Lodge, after its removal to Natick, and this story is so happily told by Worshipful Brother Henry in the Committee's Report, that we print it entire.
The work of the evening was on the third degree, and this not only attracted about three hundred brethren, but held their close attention throughout. This we may add was the best kind of praise for Worshipful Master Henry and his associates in office.
At the close, 275 brethren were seated at the tables in the banquet-hall, where refreshment was bountifully served under the care and management of Brother James Downs. It can be said, safely, that this was a history-making day in Meridian Lodge, and as such will be long remembered.
Here is the report, which is full of history, on the crayon portrait:
Brethren of Meridian Lodge, A. F. and A. M.: — At the last Regular Communication of the Lodge, held January 25th, it was voted on motion of Woishipful Brother D. H. L. Gleason, that the Worshipful Master procure a crayon portrait of our late Worshipful Brother Malachi Babcock, to be placed in the Lodge-room. I have attended to that duty, and you behold before you this evening the venerable and familiar countenance of our late Worshipful Brother. The record of his active and zealous work in Meridian Lodge was destroyed by fire in 1862, when the records of the Lodge were burned, and I thought it would not be inappropriate to include in this report a short record of his Masonic career, which is substantially as follows:
He received the symbolic degrees of Freemasonry in Middlesex Lodge, located at Framingham, Mass. From the records of that Lodge we find that he was entered June 5, 1827, crafted September 4, 1827, and raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason, March 28, 1828. He held various positions of trust and office in the Lodge until the year 1848, when he was elected to the position of Worshipful Master, which high office he occupied for two years. In 1851 a little band of Masonic brethren in this vicinity, being desirous of improving themselves in the mysteries of the "Royal Art," formed themselves into a Lodge of Instruction, and called upon Worshipful Brother Babcock (who lived at that time in the neighboring town of Sherborn, to preside over them, which he consented to do.
In 1852 there was a strong desire manifested by this little company of faithful Masons to organize a Lodge in Natick. A committee was appointed from among their number to request from Meridian Lodge then located at Newton Lower Falls permission to petition the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge for a dispensation to form a Lodge at Natick, of which committee Worshipful Bro. Babcock was chairman. General Charles Rice, then a prominent member of Meridian Lodge at the Falls, informed the committee that the interest in Freemasonrv in that village was at a very low ebb, and suggested that they take Meridian Lodge and have it transferred to Natick, where it was hoped it would have a wide scope for usefulness. The offer was gladly accepted by the Natick brethren, and the necessary dispensation from the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge secured. Rt. Rev. G. M. Randall, D. D., being at that time Most Worshipful Grand Master, granted the dispensation for its transfer and re-organization at Natick. In March, 1852, the first Communication was called in Natick, and Worshipful Brother Babcock was elected Worshipful Master, thus entitling him to the honor of first Worshipful Master of Meridian Lodge in this town. He held the position of Worshipful Master until the autumn of 1854, re-elected in 1855, and held it un til 1858 ; again in 1862 to 1863, and again from 1864 to 1865, which closed his active official connection with the Lodge. He retained, however, until his death the deepest interest in its welfare, and several years before his death, 1870, the brethren further honored him by making him an honorary member. He received the degrees of Capitular Masonry in Concord Royal Arch Chapter at Framingham in 1866, and assisted in instituting Parker Royal Arch Chapter in this place in 1868, of which he was created an honorary member in 1875. He was tne hrst Companion to receive the orders of Knight hood in Natick Commandery Knights Templar after its institution in 1871, and always took a lively interest in its affairs. As a mark of the high esteem in which he was held by his fraters, he was elected an honorary member of the Commandery in 1880. In the earlier part of the century, at the time of the great anti-Masonic agitation, when the craft suffered from the cowardice of those who abjured their faith in Freemasonry, he wavered not in his devotion to its great principles, but stood firm as a rock in his allegiance to the Craft, and in 1831 he was one of the first signers in this neighborhood of the famous declaration of the Freemasons of Boston and vicinity.
Worshipful Brother Babcock was born in Sherborn. Mass., December 17, 1802, died November 6, 1882, aged nearly eighty years.
He came of good old Puritan stock, his ances'tors being the first settlers of Sherborn. He was the last surviving member of a family of eight. He lived in Sherborn until 1858, then moved to Medfield. In 1864 he moved to Natick, where he resided at his death. His trade was that of blacksmith; he was also engaged in the manufacture of shoe-knives. At one time he was a member of the firm of Henry Partridge & Co., patentees of the well-known "Partridge fork." Ten years before his death he gave up business and lived in quiet retirement with his family. He represented the town of Sherborn in the General Court in the winter of 1854-5. In early life a Whig, he afterwards became a Republican of the staunchest type. In 1827 Worshipful Brother Babcock, then twenty-five years of age, was married to Miss Sally Kimball, of Sherborn. Ten children, who reached the age of maturity, blessed their union. For fifty-five years husband and wife traversed the journey of life together, when he was called hence. Mr. Babcock possessed many sterling qualities of mind and character. Integrity and unswerving honesty characterized all his dealings with his fellowmen. An earnest Christian man, he early allied himself to the church. Strong in his convictions he never feared to give a reason for the faith that was within him. In view of his upright life and his intimate connection with the history of Freemasonry in Natick, how fitting it is that his venerable form and features should be ever fresh in our memories to inspire us with that zealous purpose to promulgate and exemplify in our lives the great and good principles of our time-honored institution.
Chas. C. Henry, Committee,
Natick, February 29, 1888.
ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST DAY, JUNE 1888
From Liberal Freemason, Vol. XII, No. 4, July 1888, Page 124:
The brethren of Meridian Lodge A. F. and A. M., Wor. Chas. C. Henry, Master, having concluded to celebrate St. John the Baptist's Day in a becoming manner, carried their designs into execution on Monday, June 25th, in a complete and successful manner. It included a Special Meeting of the Lodge at 11 o'clock, a.m., a collation at 12, a procession made up of an escort of mounted Sir Knights, Natick Commandery K. T., E. Sir A. H. Bryant, E. C.; Parker R. A. C., E. James Downs, H. P., invited guests and infirm brethren in carriages; Meridian Lodge, Wor. Charles C. Henry, Master, the whole directed by D. H. Gleason, Chief Marshal, with Six Aids, mounted, and two Bands, both of which contributed spirited and appropriate music.
The procession moved at one o'clock over a short route to the Congregational Church, where devotional services were held and an oration delivered by R. W. Bro. Hon. Edwin Wright. On leaving church the second part of the route was marched over, to Concert Hall, where an elaborate dinner was served by Caterer Bro. William Tufts of Boston, to about 400 brethren, exclusive of the musicians. After ample time at table, Wor. Master Henry opened the Speech-making, to toasts previously prepared and a season of much pleasure followed. The Temple Quartette of Boston rendered the music, and gave some special pieces, all in their own superior manner, in the Church and in Concert Hall. The Bands also contributed in similar manner at the latter. A reception was given to the ladies in the evening. Lack of space prevents further mention of the ceremonies of the day, about which we shall say more in our August issue.
From Liberal Freemason, Vol. XII, No. 5, August 1888, Page 147:
In our July number we had a word to say about the oldtime celebration of St. John's Day in Natick by Meridian Lodge, and refer to that for an outline of the ceremonies, and shall now repeat so much only as seems necessary to explain the manner of conducting them. A special communication of Meridian Lodge was held at 11 o'clock a. m. on Monday, June 25, in Natick, for the purpose of celebrating St. John's Day.
At 12 o'clock a collation was served to the brethren in the regular banquet hall of the lodge, the lines were formed at 12.30, and the procession moved at 1 p. m., in the following order: —
Chief Marshal, D. H. L. Gleason.
Aids: R. B. Wight, H. E. Felch, G. W. Best, F. W. Shattuck, W. L. Doane, J. H. Daly.
Knights Templars — Mounted.
American Band of Waltham, Mass.
Natick Commandery Knights Templars, Sir Alfred H. Bryant, Eminent Commander.
Parker Royal Arch Chapter, James Downs, Most Excellent High Priest.
Invited Guests in Carriages:
Brother His Excellency Oliver Ames, Governor of Massachusetts.
Brother His Honor J. Q. A. Brackett, Lieut.-Governor.
Representatives of the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons in Massachusetts.
R. W. Bro. Hon. Edwin Wright, Orator of the Day.
M. E. Alfred F. Chapman, Editor Liberal Freemason, and Past General Grand High Priest of the U. S. of A.
Natick Cadet Band.
Meridian Lodge A. F. and A. M., Charles C. Henry, Worshipful Master.
For the accommodation of the members of the lodge and visiting brethren Masonic Hall was opened at an early hour; Grand Army Hall was used for similar purposes by Natick Commandery and visiting Knights Templars. The guests were specially cared for as previously arranged, ourself being entertained by E. Comp. James Downs at his town residence, where a number of others were equally fortunate in their personal host.
The march was by Main, Pond, Forest, and West Central Streets to the Congregational Church, where the exercises throughout were attractive and interesting. These consisted of:
- Old Hundred, sung by the congregation;
- Introductory Prayer, by Bro. Rev. C. H. Walters;
- Singing, Lead Kindly Light by the Temple Quartette;
- Reading of Scripture Selections by Rev. Bro. Walters;
- Temple Quartette;
- Prayer, by Rev. Bro. W. W. Hayward;
- Response, by Quartette;
- Oration, by R. W. Bro. Edwin Wright;
- Concluding Prayer, by Rev. Bro. Walters;
- An Original Ode, composed for the occasion by Mrs. S. Ellen Whitcomb, and sung by the congregation;
- Benediction, by Rev. Bro.'. Hayward.
On leaving the church the march was by Main, North Main, Willow, Winnemay, Grove, Walnut, and Main Streets, to Concert Hall, where a banquet was served, as told in July. At the head table, which was set on the platform, the central seat was occupied by the Worshipful Master, Chas. C. Henry, who also acted as toast-master, and gracefully introduced the several speakers, who were seated at his right and left as convenience and propriety dictated, and who responded to toasts previously prepared.
The oration in the church discussed "Freemasonry," and under three divisions, or as "Whence, What, Why, or Wherefore." Of this it will suffice to say, the orator was justly applauded, and expressions of praise were freely given him after he had concluded. Following the banquet the first toast was, "The day we celebrate, — commemorative of the voice in tn wilderness which proclaimed Him who taught us to forgive our enemies and to love one another." The response to was by Hon. Chas. Q. Tirrell, who read a well-written paper but which we regretfully have to omit for lack of space, which must also apply to the other excellent speeches, save one relates to the history of the lodge. (Song, Quartette.)
The second toast was, "Massachusetts: our grand old Commonwealth, to whom we as faithful Masons render our cheerful allegiance." Responded to by Brother Governor Oliver Ames, in his familiar and fraternal manner. (Music, Band.)
Third toast: "Our State officers, who honor this occasion by their presence; we gladly welcome and always delight to honor them." Response by Brother John Q. A. Brackett, Lieut-Governor.
Fourth toast: "The Grand Lodge of Massachusetts — a city set upon a hill that cannot be hid." In response to this, Worshipful Brother Henry read a letter from M. W. Henry Endicott, Grand Master, eulogistic of the Grand Lodge, and its part in the work of Freemasonry. (Song, Temple Quartette.)
Fifth toast: "The memory of Washington, the Grand Master, who laid the corner-stone of the Temple of Liberty." Response by Brother E. S. Lodge, M. D.
Sixth toast: "The Orator of the Day, whose profound thoughts have been expressed in such rare eloquence, and to whom we have listened with delight." Response by R. W. Brother Wright, who complimented the lodge highly.
Seventh toast: "Editor of the Liberal Freemason, — our old-time friend and brother, M. E. Comp. Alfred F. Chapman, Past General Grand High Priest of U. S, of A." Bro. Chapman remarked of the titles attached to his name, that it seemed a pretty big place to fill; but if he could not fill it, he would rattle round in it a while. He spoke of Meridian Lodge in pleasant terms,—- of its long existence, of its good fortune in the services rendered to it by Wor. Bro. Malachi Babcock, whose noble record was given in the Liberal Freemason. He also expressed his indebtedness to Wor. Bro. Henry for valuable contributions to that magazine. Some facts about the Gen. Grand Chapter of the U. S. were given, and some pleasant incidents were related. He rejoiced with Meridian Lodge upon this day's celebration, and gave some amusing reminiscences of celebrations by lodges in the early days of the 19th century.
Eighth toast: "Meridian Lodge, chartered by Paul Revere, December, 1797 — may her sun of glory never set." Response by Wor. D. H. L. Gleason, as follows: —
Worshipful Master and Brethren, — The sentiment to which I am called to respond opens up a wide field, covering as it does the past ninety-one years. And, were I so disposed, what a mass of statistics I could force upon you. In place of that, I will briefly review the history of Meridian Lodge, trusting it will meet with your approval.
From the date of the granting of her charter in 1797 to the present time, her record has been out of the ordinary channels. It was the last official act of that grand patriot and citizen, as well as Grand Master, Paul Revere. The meeting was in the evening, in Concert Hall, a building used by the Grand Lodge, standing at the corner of Hanover and Court Streets, Boston. The charter was granted on the application of Brother Hull and others, but I am sorry to say their names or number are not on record. The institution of the lodge was in Watertown, under the direction of Most Worshipful Grand Master Josiah Bartlett, and we find in a newspaper of that time the following graphic description of that interesting ceremony. It is headed "Masonic Installation at Watertown," and properly begins with poetry, as follows: —
"Behold, an acorn from a tender root
Puts forth a weak and unregarded shoot;
But Nature's faithful process once begun,
It gives new strength with each revolving Sun;
Till its firm stem the raging storm defies,
And its bold branches wave amidst the skies."
Then follows a most interesting description of the services and festivities: —
"On Wednesday, Meridian Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons was installed in ample form at Watertown. The Rev. Mr. Eliot introduced the solemnities in prayer. Vocal and instrumental music followed (the former original compositions of Mr. Samuel Babcock). The Rev. Mr. Bently of Salem then pronounced an ingenious, learned and historical discourse, in which the Robinsons of Europe were exposed in all their imperfections, and the Craft ably, boldly and candidly vindicated. The Rev. Brother Harris, Grand Chaplain, performed the consecrating duties, and the Rt. Wor. Grand Master Josiah Bartlett and Wor. Brother Hull each delivered pertinent and adapted charges."
You will pardon me for calling your especial attention to what follows, as you all know it's an old saying that "history repeats itself." And, in the matter of entertaining her guests, Meridian Lodge is never niggardly. The Fraternity then repaired to one of the best entertainments ever furnished to so large an assemblage, which did infinite honor to Brother Welles, the provider. After dinner many patriotic toasts were given, and the lodge closed at an early hour. It is evident the Craft were amply able to furnish a literary entertainment fully equal to the gastronomic one that had preceded it, and that, too, without the august presence of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge, who had — as all good Masons do now — gone home early. The record continues : —
"Among the toasts after the Grand Lodge had retired was the following, which for point is rarely equalled: "May we never have a war without a Washington, a Shay without a Lincoln, or a Morse without a Bentley." After dinner Brother Williamson, Brother Jackson, and several assisting brethren gave a number of Masonic airs and patriotic songs of Adams and Liberty, Hail Columbia, etc., in the most finished style of melody. The following are the toasts given by the Wor. Master of Meridian Lodge: The President of e United States; Brother Washington, the ornament of Masonry and of men; Most Worshipful Josiah Bartlett, may his exertions in the cause of Masonry be crowned with a never-fading laurel; May the fragrance of a good report, like a sprig of acacia, bloom over the head of every departed Brother; May the light of very good Mason be kindled in life, enlighten his death, and blaze through eternity; The American fair, may their virtue never want defenders while Masonry exists; May the virtue of Freemasonry in America ever be a positive contradiction to the principles of Illumination."
Surely we have a right to be proud of our Masonic ancestors. They were patriotic and moral, and the toast to the ladies shows that they were also a gallant band, setting an example which we have conscientiously tried to follow.
The lodge was transferred from Watertown to that part of Needham now known as Wellesley Hills. The meetings were held in the building now known as the Elm Park House, then transferred to Newton Lower Falls, and the house is now standing and some of e emblems, particularly the "All-Seeing Eye," now remain in the room that was once used for lodge purposes. This building was moved from Boston, the motive power being oxen, and fitted up by Gen. Charles Rice, a Brother of Meridian Lodge, and the father of the wife of Brother John M. Seaward. The dates of these changes are unknown, but are not material for this short sketch.
In 1851, there were gathered together in Natick a choice band of Brothers, who opened a school of instruction under the direction of Brother — better known as Father — Malachi Babcock and Charles Herring. After getting matters well in hand, they thought best to establish a lodge here. Middlesex Lodge of Framingham was asked to endorse their request to the Grand Lodge for a charter. This endorsement being refused, they returned home in some disgust, but after considerable eloquence had been expended, it occurred to them that Newton Lower Falls was as near as Framingham, and if one would not give permission the other might. To the Falls they went, met Brother Rice, who suggested that they move Meridian Lodge to Natick, and agreed to do all the necessary work and pay the bills. Of course it was joyfully acceded to, and in March, 1852, the affair was consummated.
On the evening of institution Brother Malachi Babcock was installed Worshipful Master, and Brother Rice again comes to the front. He presented the "Three Great Lights," which I am happy to say are now in use on our altar, and are the only original articles of furniture that have been saved from the two fires by which we have been tried. In this connection I will say, that the original Gavel used in Meridian Lodge in Watertown is now owned by Pequossette Lodge of that place; and we hope sometime, and that not distant, it will again be deposited in our archives.
One great fact stands out in bold relief in this somewhat remarkable history. Through all the changes and vicissitudes of Meridian Lodge, she never surrendered her charter; and it is a matter of record that she never wavered in her allegiance and support to the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge.
Wor. Master, I have confined my remarks to the time prior to the locating of the lodge in this place. Her history since is familiar to most of us. Early in her career she set her standard high, and has been constantly advancing in good works both ritualistic and charitable, until it seems as if we had almost reached the zenith. From a membership that is not recorded, but must have been small, we have grown to the number of 256 members. One little item ot itself will show how great has been the change.
We find it recorded, that in entertaining the Rt. Wor. District Deputy Grand Master on the occasion of an official visit, the sum of thirty-seven and one-half cents was expended. In contrast to this, I will say, that in 1837, on a similar occasion, the expense was about hundred and fifteen dollars. And at the regular Communication in May, 1888, there was present seventeen visiting Past Masters, about four hundred brethren, ninety being members of Meridian Lodge, the remainder representing sixty-eight different lodges from the six New England States and three from the British Provinces. At the banquet three hundred and twenty brethren were entertained, and the expense was over one hundred dollars. That charge of thirty-seven and a-half cents for entertainment, I fear, passed through the hands of the finance committee without careful scrutiny. We all know the expense for keeping the Deputy over night could not have been over twenty-five cents, and the horrible suspicion forces itself upon me that the twelve and a-half cents in excess of that sum was spent for two glasses of New England rum. In the absence of a bill, you will understand this is mere conjecture.
Wor. Master, the sentiment to which you called me to respond comes to me as the voice of prayer. Its sentiments are deeply imbedded in my heart; it courses through every drop of blood in my veins.
Brethren, we are proud of Meridian Lodge, — of her past struggles and achievements, of her present standing. Proud of the long line of bright, earnest workers with whom we have been associated. Proud of this gathering, and the fraternal spirit that has drawn us together. We are proud of her and no words can more fitly express our sentiments than those of the toast, "May her sun of glory never set!"
Ninth toast: "Our Worshipful Past Masters, whose services in the cause of Freemasonry we hold in appreciative remembrance." Response by Wor. Bro. George J. Townsend, M. D. It is about thirty years since Dr. Townsend was admitted to the lodge, and he spoke of the Masters during that time, their special qualifications and their services; beginning with the venerable Malachi Babcock, recently deceased, he included George L. Sleeper, James H. Parker, Henry C. Burnham, William H. Wright, D. H. L. Gleason, George J. Townsend, Silas H. Bent, Henry G. Wood, and the present Worshipful Master Henry, and of these he said, "The exceptional success of Meridian Lodge is a monument to their labors and devotion."
Other speakers were upon the list, but as it was arranged to give the ladies a reception at 7.45 p. m., this part of the exercises were closed with selections by the band. A little later the spacious rooms were crowded with Masons and their fair guests, who joined in social converse, listened to music by Knowlton & Allen's orchestra, and were entertained at table as the brethren had been earlier in the day.
The Natick Citizen in reporting the events of the day has well said, "Thus ended an eventful day, long to be remembered by the citizens of this town for the brilliant pageant, and the Masonic Fraternity for their greatly enjoyed reunion, for the instruction received, and for the success witm which were carried out all the arrangements for this rare celebration of St. John's Day."
SPECIAL VISIT TO WATERTOWN, FEBRUARY 1889
From Liberal Freemason, Vol. XII, No. 11, February 1889, Page 351:
Meridian and Pequossette Lodges.— Meridian Lodge, Freemasons, of Natick, sent a delegation of seventeen, including Worshipful Master Giliigan, Past Masters Henry and Bent and officers and members of the Lodge to visit Pequossette Lodge, of Watertown, Thursday evening, February 14th. The visitors carried with them an exquisitely written testimonial, the handiwork of their recent Secretary, Mr. Rockwood, which expressed in eloquent language the fraternal greetings of Meridian to Pequossette Lodge and warm thanks for a gravel recently presented.
History relates that Meridian Lodge was instituted in Watertown in 1797, that it migrated to Needham and afterwards to Natick, surviving the fierce contest of the anti-Masonic times. At present it is a flourishing lodge, having nearly three hundred members, occupying commodious quarters in Natick and being one of the finest working lodges of the State. Its original charter and many other valuable effects were lost by a fire which destroyed the lodge-room. Several years ago on the death of an old member of Pequossette Lodge, Joseph Crafts, an ancient gavel which he had preserved as being the original gavel used by the Master of old Meridian Lodge, was given with other relics to Pequossette Lodge, and held by them in high esteem. It seemed, however, more appropriately to belong to Meridian Lodge and by unanimous vote was presented to them last fall, the Lodge sending its officers and a large delegation to Natick for that purpose. It was gratefully received, will be highly cherished, and as a result, Meridian Lodge sent the testimonial to Watertown Thursday evening.
The testimonial was presented by Worshipful Master Gilligan, was received on behalf of Pequossette Lodge by Worshipful Master Sawyer, and a vote of thanks extended to Meridian Lodge. The third degree was worked on three candidates and a collation served. At the close of the evening Past Master Davis, of Poquossette Lodge presented to Meridian Lodge a curious glass decanter bearing the Masonic emblems, which he vouched for as having originally been the property of old Meridian Lodge. A Watertown lady has the companion decanter and glasses belonging to the set. Pequossette Lodge was instituted in 1857 and has one hundred and thirty members.
GRAND MASTER VISIT, APRIL 1912
From New England Craftsman, Vol. VII, No. 8, May 1912, Page 280:
The brethren of Meridian lodge, Natick, Mass., were much gratified by receiving a fraternal visit from Grand Master Everett C. Benton at a special communication of the lodge, Friday, April 19th, in recognition of Patriot's Day. Wor. Master William B. Pratt gave the Grand Master a cordial welcome. The Grand Master addressed the brethren in a pleasant speech and presented to the lodge a gavel made from a cedar from Mt. Lebanon. Wor. Brothers James H. Gilligan and Francis C. Perry assisted in the work. Wor. Charles C. Henry one of the best known and popular Masons of the state is Secretary of the Lodge.
175TH ANNIVERSARY, APRIL 1973
175th Anniversary Program
Meridian Lodge celebrated its 175th anniversary on April 14, 1973, in an event held at Natick High School. Wor. Robert Faulkner was presiding Master, and M. W. Donald W. Vose, Grand Master of Masons in Massachusetts, was received along with a suite of distinguished Masons, to commemorate the event.
PICTURES FROM THE ANNIVERSARY EVENT
M. W. Donald W. Vose and Wor. Robert Faulkner
Presentation of Joseph Warren Medal to R. W. Arnold H. Baker
Presentation of Anniversary Pin to Bro. Frank Skinner, oldest living member of Meridian Lodge
The Meridians Chorus
M. W. Donald Warren Vose, Grand Master
MERIDIAN LODGE HISTORICAL PRESENTATION
From Proceedings, Page 1973-83:
Narrator. (Wor. Stanley Deane)
As part of our anniversary celebration we arc about to review some of the highlights of our history. We hope we can do it interestingly enough so that you see, or think you see, some of the people or some of the events taking place.
First, let’s go back in time to the year 1733. This was the year that the first lodge, under written authority, was formed in America. Known as St. John’s Lodge, it was formed in the Bunch of Grapes Tavern on King St. in Boston on July 30, 1733.
Many men, famous in American early history, were Masons. Ben Franklin was Provincial Grand Master of Pennsylvania in 1734. George Washington was Master of his Lodge in Alexandria, Virginia. Paul Revere was Grand Master of Masons in Massachusetts in 1795-6-7, and as his last, but we hope not least, official act signed the charter of Meridian Lodge on December 11, 1797.
During the Revolution, nearly all of the officers in Washington’s army were Masons. One of these men was General William Hull.
General William Hull. (Portrayed by Rt. Wor. Arnold H. Baker)
I was born in Derby, Connecticut on June 24, 1753. I was graduated from Yale in 1772. I studied for the ministry for a year, but gave that up to attend Litchfield Law School. 1 was admitted to the bar in 1775 but before I could start a law practice along came the war and 1 joined Washington's Army as a Captain.
During the war a number of us were made Masons in Military Lodges which were springing up everywhere. Wanting something of our own in Masonry, General John Patterson, Col. Ben Tupper and I formed a traveling lodge in 1779. We called it Washington Lodge and 1 was Junior Warden at the time.
After the war I opened a law office in Newton and in 1781 1 married Sarah Fuller whose father was a Judge at that time.
Although I was a member of several honorary military organizations, a legislator, and a “Judge of Common Pleas”, 1 missed the friends and brothers who had been so close as soldiers and Masons during the war. It was this feeling which prompted us to petition the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts for a charter in Watertown. On December 11, 1797 as his last official act as Grand Master, Paul Revere signed our charter and Meridian Lodge was born. I had the distinguished honor of being elected its first Worshipful Master.
In 1805 General Hull was appointed by then President Thomas Jefferson as the first Governor of the Territory of Michigan. He moved there with his family and thereby had to leave Meridian Lodge. Peter Lyons succeeded him as Wor. Master.
Worshipful Peter Lyons. (Portrayed by Wor. Ralph A. Hall)
All of us in Meridian Lodge missed General Hull as a friend and leader. I was honored to be selected to carry on after him as Worshipful Master.On June 10, 1811, permission was granted by the Grand Lodge for us to relocate farther west to Needham. This place was later to become Wellesley Hills. Brother David Smith graciously donated his tavern on the Boston-Worcester Road as our meeting place. We spent many happy years there until the building was sold and made into a hotel in about 1843. We then moved to the Wales Tavern at Newton Lower Falls and finally to a large dwelling house owned by one of our prominent members, Brother General Charles Rice. General Rice was to later influence us to hold together when discord all but ruined us.
In 1851 a small group of Masonic Brethren in Natick formed themselves into a Lodge of Instruction and called upon Worshipful Brother Malachi Babcock of Sherborn to preside over them.
Worshipful Malachi Babcock. (Portrayed by Wor. Burnham G. Gage)
During the winter of 1852 I was appointed chairman of a committee to request from Middlesex Lodge of Framingham permission to petition the Grand Lodge for dispensation to organize a Lodge at Natick. The request was refused by Middlesex Lodge, who deemed it inadvisable to have a Lodge so near their location. We were quite disheartened for some time until it occurred to us that Meridian Lodge in Needham was nearer than Framingham and therefore held legal jurisdiction over that territory. We consulted with the brethren of Meridian Lodge and at the suggestion of General Charles Rice it was finally decided to relocate Meridian Lodge in Natick. We located in the Walter Morse building on West Central Street. I was elected to be the first Worshipful Master to serve in Natick.
On July 20th, 1862 the Morse building caught fire and nearly all of the property of the Lodge including the original records and charter were destroyed. Worshipful Alvin Fuller was Master at that time. A duplicate charter was provided and a new hall was furnished at a cost of $1,842.27. In January, 1874 the great Natick fire again burned us out and with us nearly all of the center section of the town. The heart of our town and Meridian Lodge destroyed in ashes, 37 buildings destroyed. The burning of the spire of the Congregational church was a magnificent sight, though sad. Just before the bell fell it gave three mournful strokes as in solemn farewell.
Worshipful Robert F. Faulkner.
Again we pick ourselves up from the ashes of the past and on July 16th, 1875 a Special Communication was held for the purpose of dedicating the new Masonic apartments. Rev. Brother Horatio Alger presented to Past Master William H. Wright a Past Master’s jewel at the first meeting. This was our beginning in the building where we are today.
Our membership in 1872 was 178 brothers.
In March, 1880, with $1,000 of the proceeds of a Fair and concert our Charity Fund was established.
Our 100th Anniversary was celebrated in 1897-98 by several special events including a huge parade and band concert preceding a banquet similar to this one we are attending tonight.
World War I and II took their toll of our faithful brethren and shortly after the Second War we celebrated 150 years of brotherhood together.
At that time our town had grown to about 9,000 people and our membership to over 300.
In the late 1940’s and into the 1950’s our town grew by leaps and bounds. By 1960 it had tripled in size to nearly 30,000 people.
Meridian Lodge has kept pace with the growth of Natick, and has tripled its membership.
We began our 175th anniversary year with a church service at the Congregational church on December 10th, 1972. Many of our brothers and townspeople were in attendance. Also in December the Kilted Craft visited Meridian Lodge and exemplified the First Degree. In February we visited Montgomery Lodge, also a Paul Revere Lodge, where we exemplified the Fellowcraft Degree. Also in February we celebrated Past Masters' Night with the Past Masters working the Degree. We were entertained by the Natick Assembly of Rainbow with their version of Godspell. Our March meeting brought the John Eliot Chapter of DeMolay, who exemplified their Degree.
Tonight climaxes our anniversary celebration with a Banquet and in the auditorium, music and appropriate speeches, followed by dancing. In attendance is the Most Worshipful Grand Master, Donald W. Vose and his distinguished suite.
INSTALLATION, SEPTEMBER 1989
From TROWEL, Spring 1990, Page 27:
Potentate Installs Meridian Lodge Master and Officers in Natick
From Bro. George L. ChiIds, TROWEL rep. of Meridian Lodge, Natick, in the Natick 23rd District, comes a fine report relative to the installation of Wor. Ronald F. Wood as Master on Sept. 23, by the Potentate of Aleppo Temple, Ancient Arabic Order, Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, in the person of R. W. Salvatore P. Russo.
Bro. Childs states that the "Members of Meridian Lodge will long remember the installation of its officers for 1989-90. The Master, Wor. J. Herbert Babst, opened the Lodge and had the installing suite presented into the Lodge. The suite consisted of R. W. Salvatore P. Russo, Past Master and Secretary of Saint John's Lodge, Boston; a Grand Representative of the Grand Lodge of the Dominican Republic near the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts as Installing Master; Wor. Eugene A. Capobianco, Past Master of Hiram Lodge, Boston, as Installing Marshal; Wor. Gerald R. Lever as Installing Chaplain; Wor. Thomas Robertson as Installing Organist; and Bro. John Grund as Soloist.
Wor. Bro. Wood was escorted to the East to be installed as Master, whereupon R. W. Bro. Russo, displaying all the evidence of the stature of the man, immediately proceeded to recite the duties required of a Master, the ancient charges and regulations, and requested Bro. Wood's assent to them prior to his investiture as Master. Bro. Wood appeared to be awed by the solemnity of the ancient ritual.
R.W. Bro. Russo exhibited excellent knowledge of the work and was a credit to his position.
At the completion of the installation, Wor. Capobianco was directed to make the official proclamation that all the officers had been duly installed. Wor. Robert Faulkner was requested to recite the Paul Revere Charge, an oration that was done to perfection, as only he can do it.
With the completion of the work of the evening, all members, their families and guests, were invited to Saint Ann's Church in Wayland for a buffet dinner and dancing to the music of a band that offered Western-style music.
SPECIAL MEETING, NOVEMBER 1989
From TROWEL, Spring 1990, Page 27:
Grand Master Ames Raises Son in Meridian Lodge
Before a capacity audience of members and guests of Meridian Lodge, Natick, Grand Master Albert T. Ames Raised his son, Richard David Ames on Nov. 28. Wor. Ronald F. Wood, Master, received the Grand Master and his suite and the work of the evening commenced immediately.
At the completion of the degree, M. W. Frank Battaglia, Past Grand Master of Delaware, rendered an excellent charge and presented the candidate with a Masonic Bible.
The Grand Master and his guests and officers and members of the Lodge concluded the eventful evening at a dinner held in the Natick Research and Development Command. The Grand Master had the distinction of Raising two sons during his three years; a year ago his son Kenneth in Meridian Lodge.
Grand Master Ames; his son, Richard; and M. W. Frank Battaglia.
200TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION, MAY 1998
From TROWEL, Winter 1998, Page 16:
Meridian Lodge Celebrates 200th Year
On May 2, 1998, Meridian Lodge of Natick celebrated 200 years of Masonry. One of the oldest in the country, Meridian Lodge was chartered in 1797 by Paul Revere, who was Grand Master of Masons in Massachusetts from 1795 to 1797.
M. W. Arthur E. Johnson, Grand Master, participated in the rededication ceremonies. A distinctive bronze plaque was placed on the outside of the Masonic building. The building constructed on the site of the great downtown Natick fire of 1874. The 1874 fire was not the first to destroy their records and memorabilia. In 1862 fire destroyed their Lodge in the Walter Morse Building on East Central Street. The original gavel, which is passed down from Master to Master, is still being used in the Lodge.
Rebuilding their history has been a long, and not always successful endeavor, says Wor. Edwin C. Sloper, the present Master of the Lodge. The Lodge was originally chartered in Watertown and moved several times before settling in Natick.
The first Master of Meridian Lodge was Wor. William Hull, who served from 1797 to 1798 and the first Master of Meridian Lodge in Natick was Wor. Malachi Babcock, who served from 1851 to 1853. Over the years Meridian Lodge has had thirteen members appointed or elected to serve the Grand Lodge, including a Senior Grand Warden, a Junior Grand Warden, several District Deputy Grand Masters, a Grand Marshal, a Grand Pursuivant, a Grand Steward and most notably M. W. Albert T. Ames as Grand Master in 1987 to 1989.
GRAND LODGE OFFICERS
- Albert T. Ames, DDGM, District 23 (Natick), 1976, 1977; Grand Marshal 1978-1980; Senior Grand Warden 1981; Grand Master 1987-1989
- Arnold H. Baker, DDGM, District 23 (Natick), 1960, 1961; N
- W. Jack Bennett, DDGM, District 23 (Natick), 1996, 1997; N
- Burns L. Fish, DDGM, District 23 (Natick), 1944, 1945, 1946; Memorial
- Charles C. Henry, District 21 (Framingham), 1896, 1897; Memorial
- James Downs, DDGM, District 21 (Framingham), 1906, 1907; Memorial
- Irving L. Luchans, Grand Chaplain 2006-2018
- William S. McRobert, DDGM, District 23 (Natick), 1928, 1929; N
- Marshall L. Perrin, DDGM, District 23 (Milford), 1912-1913; Memorial
- Robert S. Phillips, DDGM, Natick 23, 1984, 1985; N
- Edwin C. Sloper, DDGM, District 23 (Natick), 2000, 2001
- George J. Townsend, DDGM, District 4 (Cambridge), 1878, 1879, 1880; SN
- Alfred B. Underwood, DDGM, District 23 (Milford), 1924, 1925; Memorial
- Danny C. Vogel, DDGM, District 15 (North), 2019, 2020
- Henry Gage Wood, DDGM, District 21 (Framingham), 1885, 1886, 1887, 1888; Junior Grand Warden 1889
- Malachi Babcock, Memorial
- Seth Dewing, Memorial
- Lyman Howard, Memorial
- Albert A. Kendall, Memorial
- Walter N. Mason, Memorial
- John Nichols, Memorial
- James H. Parker, Memorial
- Willis Rice, Memorial
- George B. Whitney, Memorial
- William H. Wright, Memorial
The curator for this page is Brother Geoff Turi. Please direct informational updates and questions to him.