Jackson Lodge No. 17, F. & A.M.

    David G. Shea, P.M.    Stephen D. Vining, P.M. 
 Worshipful Master Secretary
 (517) 315-8813 (517) 914-8400

Jackson Lodge No. 17 History

157 W. Cortland Street, Jackson
1907 to 1988

2527 Helena Ave., Jackson
1988 to

    The first Lodge in Jackson County and from which Jackson Lodge No. 17 was later organized had its beginning in the summer of 1838 in the Village of Brooklyn under the dispensation of the Grand Master of the State of New York. Their meetings were held over Tiffany's Store, their first Worshipful Master being William Jones.

    A few years later, this Lodge moved to the new stone tavern at Napoleon built by Col. Bolton, but moved back again to Brooklyn in 1843 in better quarters over a new store built by A.P. Cook.

    On June 5, 1845, the Grand Lodge of Michigan granted a charter to St. John's Lodge No. 3 in the village of Jackson and soon after the original St. John's Lodge in Brooklyn disbanded, being absorbed by the Jackson Lodge.

    St. John's No. 3 began operation in a hall in the Merriman Block on the north side of Michigan Avenue, but in the summer of 1847, by a vote of the membership, its charter was surrendered. A few weeks after the surrender of the charter of No. 3, some of the members applied for and received a dispensation for a new Lodge, Paul B. Ring being the first Worshipful Master. At the next session of Grand Lodge on January 14, 1848, a charter was granted under the title of Jackson Lodge No. 17, F. & A.M.

    On January 15, 1852, Fidus Livermore and others obtained a charter for a second Jackson Lodge under the title of Michigan Lodge No. 50, F. & A.M. Both Lodges at this date occupied rooms in a building at the southeast corner of Michigan Avenue and Mechanic Street.

    In 1853, Jackson No. 17 and all Masonic bodies moved to new quarters at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Jackson Street. These rooms were later (1881) used as composing rooms by the Daily Patriot. In 1870, all of the bodies moved to the Keystone Block at the corner of Liberty and Otsego Streets, the location of the old Post Office. In December of 1877, due to rapid increase in membership, all bodies moved to a commodious suite of rooms in the Bennett Block, or the location of the L. H. Fields store at the southwest corner of Michigan Avenue and Jackson Street. In 1881, the membership of Jackson Lodge No. 17 was 210 and Michigan No. 50 was 192.

    As the time passed, it became more apparent that the quarters above Field's store were not adapted to the present day requirements and a campaign was started which in 1907 culminated in the laying of the corner stone of the Masonic Temple on Cortland Street. This corner stone was laid on April 25, 1907, at 4:00 p.m. under the direction of Brother Charles E. Sweet, Most Worshipful Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of the State of Michigan. In the ceremonies and parade accompanying the laying of the corner stone, there were nine Commandry Units represented. In addition to the two Blue Lodges of Jackson No. 17 and Michigan No. 50. Also, the Jackson Guard, Withington Guard, Boo's Band and a platoon of Police were present.

    During the year following the laying of the corner stone and until the interior of the Lodge was completed, great activity consisted of fairs, minstrel shows was carried on in the new auditorium to provide funds for the Temple construction.

    The Building Committee for the new Temple consisted of Chas. E. Ulrickson, Fred H. Helmer, Andrew J. Weatherwax, Alva H. Travner and Thomas H. Williams. In addition to these brothers who were also on the first Board of Trustees of the Temple Association, the Board consisted of Wesley Sears, President; Sam W. Winchester; William A. Brewer; Anthony J. Patch; Dean S. Fleming; Robert A. Smith and Peter B. Loomis. The Architect for the building was Claire Allen and the contract cost of the construction was $47,998.00 .

    On the evening of March 6, 1908, the first gavel was struck in the new Temple in a joint meeting of Jackson Lodge No. 17 and Michigan Lodge #50. Due to the fact that Jackson Lodge No. 17 was the older of the two Lodges, Charles K. White, then Worshipful Master of No. 17 opened the first meeting and Ben Williams, then Worshipful Master of Michigan No. 50, closed the meeting.

    Since that date Jackson Lodge No. 17 has experienced periods of prosperity and depression. During the war years of World War I and immediately after, the membership of the Lodge increased rapidly and during the depression years that followed, the membership could hardly hold its own. History repeated itself with an increase during the war years of World War II to the current day continual decrease. The membership of Jackson No. 17 was 1,017 and Michigan No. 50 was 697 in the year 1942. The membership of Jackson Lodge No. 17 at the start of 1985 was 385 active members of which 123 were Life Members. The membership of current day is far less with many brothers having Life Membership status.

    Once again, on May 28, 1988 after 81 years the Jackson Masonic Bodies moved again to its current location. The new Masonic Center was dedicated on this date at 4:00 p.m. in ceremonies by Kenneth Bolton, Grand Master of the State of Michigan and the Officers of the Grand Lodge. In attendance were the two Blue Lodges and the other Temple appending bodies. At the time of the dedication, David R. Rood was Worshipful Master of Jackson Lodge No. 17; George G. Kass was Worshipful Master of Michigan Lodge No. 50 and Ronald B. Smith was President of the Jackson Masonic Temple Association.

    In late 1999 the membership of Jackson Lodge No. 17 grew once again with Liberty Lodge No. 209 surrendering its Charter and consolidating with Jackson Lodge No. 17.

    On October 24, 2008  the membership of Jackson Lodge No. 17 grew one more time with Coolidge Lodge No. 532 of Michigan Center surrendering its Charter and consolidating with Jackson Lodge No. 17.

On June 3,2009 at the Annual Grand Lodge Communication in Grand Rapids a vote was taken and it was approved to move the Charter of Jackson Lodge No. 17 to the former Coolidge Lodge No. 532 Temple located in Michigan Center. The first meeting which was a Regular Communication took place  on Thursday, June 11, 2009. The first degree to take place in the new location was at the Annual Strawberry Festival on Thursday, June 18, 2009 and was an Entered Apprentice Degree done by the Region No. 4 Regional Grand Lecturer Stephen D. Vining P.M. with the assistance of several of the Lodge Past Masters.

rev. 2009, 2003, 1985, 1942 Membership Yearbook.