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,
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
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
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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