An Outline of the History of Mount Hermon Lodge, No. 179 A.F. & A.M.
Arnon L. Mehring, PM. and Harry B. Shaw, JD.
November 1932


Mount Hermon

The lodge derives its name from Mount Hermon in Syria. The summit of the mountain is 9,100 feet above sea level, thus making it the highest point in the country. Because of its elevation it is the most prominent landmark in the section and is visible on clear days from all parts of Palestine.

The name itself means a sacred place and was given to this mountain because a temple was built on its summit. The summit is a plateau marked by three knolls. These knolls are so situated as to form a triangle around the alter of the ancient temple, the easternmost being the largest of the three.

The above brief explanation demonstrates that the name “Mt. Hermon” is an appropriate one for a lodge of freemasons.


On May 26, 1882, Brothers George W. Nagle, Sr., Dr. W.O. Eversfield, Eugene Calvert, W. Y. Page, E. Magruder, R. Johnson, C. Willis and C. O. Carfroll assembled at the Bladensburg School to hear the reading of a dispensation from the Grand Lodge of Maryland giving them permission to organize a lodge of Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons. The petition to the Grand Lodge was signed by all of the above except Johnston and Willis and in addition by F. E. Baukhages, Chas. B. Ager, A. Foulk, E. F. Pumphrey and F. H. Smith.

The Grand Master, John S. Tyson, appointed George W. Nagle, W. O. Eversfield and Eugene Calvert as worshipful master, senior and junior wardens, respectively. At this first meeting those present elected F. E. Baukhages, Secretary, E. Magruder, Treasurer, C. G. Ager, Senior Deacon, C. O. Carroll, Junior Deacon and A. Foulk, Tyler.

A constitution and by-laws were adopted at the second meeting held under dispensation on June 1, 1882. The lodge continued to hold meetings all summer.

The Grand Lodge had a representative investigate the U. D. Lodge in the autumn of the same year, which investigation resulted in the Committees on Charters reporting that “it had found the minutes of Mt. Hermon Lodge, U. D., to be correctly and very neatly kept” and recommending that a charter be granted the Lodge. This recommendation was approved by the Grand Lodge, and a charter signed by John S. Tyson, Grand Master, and dated November 22, 1882, was received by Mt. Hermon Lodge at its meeting December 6, 1882.

Meeting Places

The first meeting place of the lodge was the old school in Bladensburg. A controversy arose after a time as to the amount of rent that the lodge was paying and on August 5, 1885, the lodge decided to find quarters elsewhere. Hyatts Hall, afterwards Dickey's old feed store recently torn down, was selected October 21, 1884 and on January 6, 1885 the lodge held its first meeting in Hyattsville. It is interesting to note at this point that our respected brother, William Pinkney Magruder, who is still active among us, was the last mason initiated by the lodge at the old Bladensburg meeting place.

Long before this happened Louis D. Wine and Geo. J. Johnson offered on May 1, 1883 to present the lodge with a free building site in Hyattsville. The offer was declined with thanks at the time, but when it was made again years later the lodge on June 16, 1891 accepted the lot on which the present temple stands. Brother Wine, chiefly responsible for the gift and a past master of Hiram Lodge No. 10 of Washington, D.C., was elected an honorary life member of this lodge October 1, 1895 in token of the lodge’s appreciation.

As soon as the lodge came into possession of the lot the members began to plan to build a temple upon it. The first building committee was appointed October 18, 1882 and the cornerstone of the new building was laid May 2, 1893, with ceremonies commensurate with the dignity of the craft.

There were present on this occasion eighteen grand lodge officers from Maryland and the District of Columbia, including Past Deputy Grand Master Wm. H. Clark, and Grand Lecturer Graham Dukehart of Maryland and Grand Master R. Cabell Williamson, Deputy Grand Master H. S. Merrill and Grand Secretary Wm. R. Singleton of the District of Columbia. Hiram Lodge No. 10 of Washington turned out with a full line of officers and 31 members. The 104 visiting brethren represented 26 lodges in seven states.

The members assembled at the old hall at three P. M. and proceeded to the railroad station where they met a special train from Washington bearing the visitors from that place accompanied by Schroeder’s band. They were also joined by the Cadet Corps and Drum Corps from the Maryland Agriculture College and all paraded to the site of the new building where printed programs were distributed. Grand Lecturer Dukehart gave an address of welcome and Grand Master Williamson laid the corner stone using the same gavel used by Past Master Geo. Washington at the cornerstone laying of the U. S. Capitol. The solid silver pitcher in which the oil was carried formerly belonged to Capt. Randall Holden of Rhode Island, who died in 1796. An address by Past Master Richard P. Evans of this lodge. The opening prayer and benediction were pronounced by Grand Chaplain C. B. Smith of the District of Columbia.

There were many difficulties to be overcome however, by this group of only forty men, and the building was finally completed by the third building committee headed by Jackson H. Ralston. The lodge moved into the new temple March 3, 1896.

On December 6, 1921 a building committee was appointed to plan the construction of a new temple. It was first decided to build on the present site of the Arcade theater. However, this decision was later changed and the old temple was rebuilt, being completed late in 1925. The first meeting in the rebuilt temple was held January 1, 1926 and was followed by a reception and dance.


The first officers of the lodge were named in the previous section on organization. For the first few years the lodge held elections twice a year on the meetings closest to the festivals of St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist, but during the early years never had a full line of junior officers. On October 6, 1885 a motion was passed to increase the tenure of officers to one year.

The first chaplain, Rev. Jno. B. Williams, was elected July 15, 1884. R. P. Evans became the first trustee on June 17, 1884. The present Board of Trustees consists of Past Masters S. M. McMillan, Joseph S. Haas and T. H. Welsh. The lodge never had any stewards until August 6, 1895 when M. F. Hobbs was invested Senior Steward. It then managed to get along with only one until February 8, 1896 when R. G. Lamb was invested as the first Junior Steward. The Board of Managers was created December 3, 1895 and Chas. W. Leannarda, Geo. Tise and Wm. P. Magruder became its first members February 18, 1896.

Elections in the early days were almost always closely contested. for example, in 1896 it took four ballots to elect a master; three, four, two, one and thirteen to elect the senior and junior wardens, secretary, treasurer and board of managers, respectively. Until 1902, when S. M. McMillan became master, no one had been elected to the stations of junior warden, senior warden and master in succession, although R. P. Evans had occupied all three offices at different times. During the last 20 years, however, succession in office has come to be nearly a tradition in Mt. Hermon Lodge.

Representatives to the Grand Lodge were elected by the lodge until April 15, 1984, when a motion was passed authorizing the master and wardens to appoint them. The following members of Mt. Hermon Lodge have served as officers of the Grand Lodge of Maryland: Richard P. Evans, Worshipful Junior Grand Deacon, 1893; Joseph S. Haas, Worshipful Senior Grand Steward, 1921; Harry B. Major, Dr. S. M. McMillian and Joseph S. Haas, Grand Inspectors.

The first committee to instruct candidates was appointed April 1, 1884. From the present viewpoint, it is rather amusing to observe that two of the three members of this committee had only received the third degree themselves at the previous meeting. The present school of instruction was organized in 1919, by Past Master McMillan. After a time it became apparent to the members of this school that they were not wholly in step with the Grand Lodge, whereupon the lodge authorized brothers McMillan, Creese and Mehring to attend the Grand Lodge school of instruction in Baltimore at the lodge’s expense until they knew the work exactly as it should be. From this time Mt. Hermon Lodge has had a statewide reputation for the excellence of its work.

The list of tylers of the lodge follows: A. Foulk 1892, C. O. Carroll 1882-1886, John T. Fawcett 1887-1888, R. B. Wright 1891-1892, R. F. Anderson 1893, Frank H. Gasch 1894-1895 and 1896-1903, Geo. M. Raub 1896, Geo. W. Whalley 1904-1921, O. C. Fuller 1922-1927, Samuel McR. Meakin 1928, Ira E. Widmeyer 1929-1930, and Milton M. Clark 1931-1932.