MATT LODGE #694
|Charlie Yarbrough, WM||Harrison Jennings, SD|
|A.T. Moore, SW||J. E. Heard, JD|
|Jerry Byers, JW||W. J. Bottoms, SS|
|Ira Wallis, Treas.||L. P. Bannister, JS|
|Ford Phillips, Sec.||C. W. Yarbrough, Tyler|
|Broughton Bottoms, Chap.|
At this first meeting a committee was appointed to procure the regalia for the Lodge. The committee was composed of Brothers Jerry Byers, Truel Moore, Powell Bannister, and Ira Wallis. The first meeting was also the occasion of the first reading of the first petitions for the degrees of Masonry that were received by the new Lodge. The petition of Waymon Cox was read. The investigating committee was Brothers Edwin Heard, Broughton Bottoms, and Loy Grogan. The petition of Gurney Whitmire was also read. The investigating committee was Brothers James Magnus, Roe Shoemake, and Powell Bannister.
At the second meeting of the newly-formed Lodge, the Entered Apprentice Degree was conferred on Waymon Cox.The Fellowcraft Degree was conferred at a called meeting on June 17, 1949. The first Master Mason Degree conferred by Matt Lodge was on Brother Cox on July 17, 1949. The minutes record that the Degree was conferred by a Brother Smith from Lafayette Lodge, assisted by some Brethren from Mt. Zion Lodge. These were the first recorded Degrees, and all were conferred on Brother Cox. Brothers Ben Franklin Smith and Julius Albert Bailey were raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason by Matt Lodge while under dispensation.
At the meeting on April 28, 1949, the “hat was passed” and $5.03 was received for Mrs. Jerry Byers for making the first Lodge aprons. These aprons have provided many years of service. In January of 1950, the Lodge had a motion and a second to accept some chairs from Lafayette Lodge, Cumming, Georgia. Also, the first Masonic Bible was donated by Brother J.L. Wehunt.
Worshipful Masters are known to be adept at appointing committees, so at the May 13, 1949, meeting, a committee was appointed to formulate the bylaws for the Lodge. This committee consist of Brothers L.P. Bannister, M.E. Jennings, and Jerry Byers. The bylaws were first read in open Lodge on March 24, 1950 (after the Charter had been received). The second reading and adoption of the bylaws was on May 28, 1950.
May 28, 1949, was the date of the first Friday night meeting of the Lodge. Apparently the first few meetings were held on Thursday nights. In later years the meeting nights would be changed to the second and fourth Saturday of each month and subsequently to the second and fourth Monday night of each month. Only one meeting is held in December. That is for the election and installation of officers for the following year.
As early as June, 1949, a committee was appointed to secure a building site for the Lodge Hall. The committee consisted of Brothers W.J. Bottoms, Jerry Byers, and Wallace Tatum. By November 11, 1949, a building lot approximately one acre in size had been purchased from Roy E. Moore for $100. This lot was at the intersection of what later became Georgia Highway 369 and John Burruss Road. A freewill offering taken at the November 11 meeting for construction of the building amounted to $535.
Of course the Lodge members did not buy a building site nor begin construction before receiving its charter from the Grand Lodge. On October 14, 1949, a resolution was passed by the members of Matt Lodge to send a formal request to the Grand Lodge of Georgia, F&AM for a charter. The sum of $70 accompanied the request. The committee appointed to make the formal request consisted of Brothers H.T. Pirkle, Powell Bannister, and Ford Phillips. The Charter was granted for Matt Lodge #694, F&AM on October 26,1949, and was signed by Grand Master ”Slick” Moulton. The charter was presented at the cornerstone ceremony on December 9, 1949, by Grand Master J. Everett Thrift.
Having secured a charter and a building site, the Lodge began construction of Matt Lodge in November of 1949. Brothers Ira Wallis, I.L. Wallis, Jr., and Oneal Wallis did most of the work on the building, laying the blocks and adding the roof. The walls were of cinder blocks, and the outside of the building was not painted until 1980. The building had four windows on each the north side and the south side, near the top of the walls. The floor was of bare concrete. The ceiling was of tongue and groove “1x4” boards, which the lodge members helped to install. All the podiums and the holy altar were built by Brother Jerry Byers. Brother Conrad Cox donated $400 or $500 to the construction fund, with other members also making donations as they were able.
At the November 25, 1949, meeting, plans were made for the cornerstone ceremony. This would indicate that the construction had come along rather quickly. As previously stated the cornerstone ceremony and dedication was held on December 9, 1949, with Grand Master J. Everett Thrift presiding.
There have been several changes to the building during the years of its existence. Most of the windows had to be blocked up due to vandalism and theft. The outside of the building was first painted white in 1980 and later painted blue (“blue lodge”). Carpet was added to the bare concrete floor. Ceiling tile was added to the tongue and groove overhead. A dining room was added beginning in March of 1985, with the members doing most of the work. Before the dining room was built, sawhorses and plywood set up in the main lodge room served as the temporary dining area. The method of heating the building has progressed from coal heaters to LP gas space heaters to central heat and air conditioning. A fire door was added to the Lodge room in 1994, for safety and insurance reasons. Insulation has been added in the attic. The lighting was changed from incandescent to fluorescent.
There have also been changes in the annual dues. In January of 1950 the dues were set at $5 per year. This was sufficient until 1972, when the dues were raised to $10 per year. In November of 1980, the Lodge voted to raise the dues to $20 per year (Grand Lodge dues were increasing constantly). In the early 1990’s, the annual dues were raised to $30. This amount is still less than that charged by some of the big city Lodges.
The minutes of the March 9, 1951, meeting record that the Lodge voted to allow the Odd-Fellows to use the building for their meetings for a fee of $5 per month. It is not known how long this arrangement lasted.
The expenses of the Lodge have increased considerably. The electric bill in 1950 was only $2 per month. The Grand Lodge dues have risen considerably. Costs for heating, cooling, and telephone service have risen.
Though Matt Lodge is not big, though the facilities are not the newest, though the Lodge is young by comparison, its members are fond of the spiritual heritage that was left to us by the founders and early members. Never a meeting is held without hearing the name of God (the Father, Son, Holy Spirit, and Grand Architect of the Universe) loving referred to and called upon, with the reverence that is due from the creature to his Creator. "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity."