FAIRFIELD LODGE U. D., DEC. 22, A. L. 5854 A. D., 1854

It was a chilly December evening, December 22nd, 1854, that a group of Fairfield's leading citizens assembled for the purpose of organizing a Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons.

They met under the authority of a dispensation from the Grand Lodge of the State of Illinois, authorizing them to work and open a Lodge of Ancient Craft Masonry.

That new lodge was to be named "Fairfield Lodge U. D.''Those brethren who were so empowered were: Bro. Thomas H. Lowery, W. M.; Bro. James M. Walden, S. W.; Bro. Eli Brock, J. W.; Bro. Hampton Weed, Treas.; Bro. Daniel Turney, Sec.; Bro. C. J. Kelley, Chaplain; and Bro. Benjamin Glisner, Tiler. How early Free Masonry came to life in Fairfield compared with the age of the city is evidenced by the fact that along about the same time the first public school was opened in Fairfield.

In fact, this first organization meeting for the Masonic Order in Fairfield, according to the best information available, was held in that first Fairfield school building, located then at what is now 101 East Delaware Street, directly across the street north from the present Masonic Temple.

The second meeting was held in Temperance Hall on January 26th, 1855, but careful checks by this writer fail to reveal the exact location of that building. A number of subsequent meetings were also held in this location.

At its very first meeting Fairfield Lodge had three visiting brethren as guests - Joseph Ball, James Knapp, and David Boer. And from the very start, the new lodge's membership began to grow, because at this first meeting Bro. James Knapp presented his demit from Benton Lodge to become a member of Fairfield Lodge.

Also at this initial meeting a committee consisting of Bros. Hampton Weed, James Walden, and Daniel Turney, was appointed to select proper room for future meetings and to procure the necessary Masonic working tools and jewelry.

The night of July 25th, 1856, was a memorable occasion in the life of his new Masonic Lodge. On that night C. E. Ridgway was raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason - the first time this degree was conferred by the Fairfield Lodge.

At the meeting on September 12th, 1856 it was announced by the Secretary that Grand Lodge was to convene on October 5th, that year, and so the group readily voted to send Bro. James Watson as a delegate to that gathering, with specific instructions to bring home the charter for the new Fairfield Lodge.

He did this and on October 10th, 1856 Fairfield Lodge became an officially chartered Lodge. It is that event in Fairfield Masonic History that we celebrate tonight.

Records show that John Moody, of Salem, was appointed by the Grand Master to duly institute Fairfield Lodge. On that occasion Thomas H. Lowery was to be installed as first Master under chartered Lodge, but for some reason he could not be present that night and the Deputy Grand Master ordered an election held instanter and James Watson was elected Master. Official records show that Bro. Watson was earlier that evening installed as Senior Warden, giving him in one evening two separate offices.

Other officers installed that evening were: Eli Brock, Junior Warden; Hampton Weed, Treasurer; Daniel Turney, Secretary; Bernard Baer, Senior Deacon; C. J. Ridgway, Junior Deacon.

Obviously realizing that Fairfield Lodge could not go far without the guidance of the Almighty, the membership voted on May 28th, 1856 to accept Ministers of the Gospel free of all initiation fee. That order stood on the books of Fairfield Lodge many years and many ministers have there been whose names have graced the membership records of this lodge.

Records show that the Lodge met in the East Room of the school building until January 26th, 1861 when the Lodge rented Temperance Hall for the price of $21 per year.

All through the Civil War Days the Lodge continued to meet in this building, and after nearly 18 years there, the need for still larger quarters was felt. By this time the Lodge was of sufficient financial strength to pay more rent and so in 1379 The Lodge moved to the second floor of the Adams and Pendleton building on Main street. Today this is the site of the Corner Candy Store. Some here tonight no doubt recall Masonic gatherings in that location. The annual rent there was $140.00.

But as the months and years came and went, Fairfield Lodge continued to prosper and grow and once again the need for larger quarters was evident. Many of the lodge's faithful members were oftimes heard to say, "Our lodge needs a home of its own".

And in December of 1921, the break that had long been hoped for came. The members of the Fairfield First Methodist Church were busy building a new church building and on December 19th, 1921 the Fairfield Masonic fraternity bought the old church building for $5000.

The new building lended itself perfectly to a Masonic Temple and on May 5th, 1926, after some remodeling, the new building was dedicated . . . and at long last the dream had come true . . . Fairfield Masonic Lodge had a home of its own.

Hon. Richard C. Davenport, Grand Master of the State of Illinois was present and after holding an "Occasional" Grand Lodge, was invited by the Master to dedicate the new Temple. A large number of Masons and their wives from surrounding counties was present.

On Saturday, September 24th, 1932 the Masonic Temple was re-dedicated and Richard Davenport, then Grand Secretary, was again present. The re-dedicational ceremonies were performed by Grand Master G. Haven Stephens and in his remarks he told Bro. Davenport that the re-dedication was not made necessary because of the way he did the job on the original dedication, but that it was in order because of the extensive remodeling to the building that had been done. This remodeling was made possible by generous bequests in the will of the late Bro. Abel C. Greene.

Today, Fairfield Lodge has three who have been members for more than 50 years. They are: Bro. Ira A. Brown, Bro. C. E. Raefele and Bro. Eldon P. Fleming. Bro. Fleming has served as secretary of Fairfield Chapter No. 179 R. A. M. for 52 consecutive years and a Mason for 56 years.

Now, at the end of the first century the Lodge has a membership of 500. During the past 100 years it has had the honor of having one D. D. G. M. and Grand Lecturer - R. W. Bro. Charles Franklin Vaughan, and one who has the distinction of being our only Scottish Rite 33rd Degree Mason - David L. Garrison. We have also two Knights of the York Cross of Honor, Brother C. FranK Vaughan and Brother Charles A. Fishel.

ONE HUNDRED YEARS; What changes man has wrought. From the candle to the kerosene lamp, and then to gas and electricity. From the horse and buggy to the automobile and the aero plane, the radio, and the television; and yet through it all the foundation of Ancient Craft Masonry is unchanged, and has demonstrated that moral, religious and Masonic principles are inseparable.

To those who shall stand in this place or wherever Fairfield Lodge No. 206 may be meeting in 2056 may they know that we have endeavored to build substantially and lastingly, rooting the foundation of this Lodge in those principles symbolized by the plumb line and square. And to those who shall then be spreading "Further Light in Masonry," may they truly say, "They builded well."

So to the past one hundred years we say, "Good-bye" and to the new one hundred years we say, "Good morning."

Taken from the program for the centennial re-dedication of the lodge 1956.


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