Among the charter members of our lodge were Brothers Walter S. Hutchins, F.W. (Ted) Bainbridge, Walter White, Sr. and Frank Polhamis, all of whom were members of a small Episcopal church in the Uptown area. Brothers Hutchins and Polhamis were in the insurance business, Brother Bainbridge was an officer of the Commonwealth Edison Company, and Brother White was a department head at Marshal Field & Co. These brethren were in contact in their daily lives and with many other members of the Fraternity and thus were able to recruit in a relatively short period a sufficient number of applicants to petition for a charter. They did so and Paul Revere Lodge No. 998 was granted a charter on October 25, 1916. Paul Revere Lodge in its early years was known as the "Silk Stocking Lodge," being so dubbed because the officers wore white ties and tails at all the lodge meetings and other functions. When this custom was discontinued is not of record.
For our first two years we rented a hall at Broadway and Wilson Avenues for our meetings. In May of that year the members voted to participate in joint ownership of what was called "Templar Hall." The original building, which is now part of Paul Revere Masonic Temple, was a residence and consisted of that part facing Ashland Avenue and which is now the pool room, the lounge and foyer on the second floor. We know this structure was built before 1885 and probably sometime after 1880. In 1898, an organization known as the Ravenswood Club was organized. Their by-laws and other references tell us the residence was purchased by them in 1899. Thereafter the structure was known as the Ravenswood Club House. In 1902, they added the annex which extends eastward to the alley. This annex included four bowling alleys in the basement, a reception hall and billiard room on the first floor, and an assembly hall on the second floor. The Ravenswood Club was still in existence in 1913 but the records do not disclose how much longer. It seems logical to assume that on or about the time the organization was disbanded corresponds to the purchase of the property by Illinois Commandery No. 72. Another early tenant was the Ravenswood Women's Club which made its home here for almost thirty years.
On April 1, 1920 Illinois Commandery #72, Grand Templars of Illinois, invited Paul Revere Lodge to join them in the ownership of what is now Paul Revere Masonic Temple. A resolution was adopted on April 15, 1920 to accept the invitation and a committee was duly appointed to make final arrangements. The agreement was consummated November 18, 1920. The Commandery paid $35,000 for the property and Paul Revere Lodge assumed one half that cost. Immediately thereafter the Lodge moved into the Temple.
After six years the Commandery, having decided the building was no longer suitable for their needs, offered to sell their interest to Paul Revere Lodge. On June 17, 1926, a committee was appointed to investigate the purchase or sale of our half-interest.
The Chicago Real Estate Board appraised the property shortly thereafter at $69,400. This valuation undoubtedly reflects two things. First, the fact that the Wilson Avenue business district was expanding and the belief that eventually the property would be rezoned for commercial use. Second, evidence leaves no doubt that the building was in need of extensive repairs. The Templars actually had been meeting in the Humboldt Park Commandery Temple for about two years prior to their offer to sell.
In March 1927, after much wrangling, reportedly quite acrimonious at times, the two bodies finally reached an agreement and Paul Revere Lodge took sole possession. Acacia Mutual Life Insurance Company required an architectural examination of the building before granting a mortgage. The prestigious firm of Holabird and Root was engaged to conduct such an examination. They reported that both the first and second floors were much overstressed and recommended running a steel beam under each floor from the alley to the Ashland side of the building. This involved considerable financing including a $30,000 first mortgage. In addition to reinforcing both floors, a second meeting room was created from space that had been the Commandery's armory. The building was redecorated and refurbished throughout.
At the time, these financial obligations did not appear to offer any serious threat. The lodge membership had grown to nearly 700 and the future looked rosy. The Uptown business district was steadily advancing westward and the value of the Lodge property was naturally expected to increase.
But, as they say, things are not always as they seem. The Fall of 1929 brought the economic devastation of the Great Depression. Large numbers of demits and suspensions followed and by 1932 the Lodge membership had fallen below 400. The tenant organizations were also in trouble and as a result the Lodge defaulted on payments to both Acacia Mutual and Illinois Commandery. We were barely able to meet the most basic operating expenses. All maintenance that could be was deferred and the building slowly slipped into disrepair. Much credit is due those brethren who carried the burden during those difficult years when the lodge was operating under the most precarious of conditions. Year after year, groups of dedicated brethren donned their work clothes and saved the lodge hundreds of dollars in cleaning, painting, and repair 2expenses. In addition to the obvious monetary benefit, the lodge gained invaluably from the strengthened fraternal ties resulting from those shared experiences.
With the advent of World War II economic conditions pick up rapidly and this was soon felt by the Fraternity in an increase in new petitions and improved collections in dues. In 1949, the Temple management board brought rentals to our tenants in line with our costs. For the first time, the Temple was paying its own way and covering the costs of gradually catching up on the years of deferred maintenance.
In 1954, Illinois Commandery offered to cancel the indebtedness upon a final token payment of $1,000. This generous offer was accepted and by 1956 the lodge was in a position to wipe out all indebtedness to Acacia Mutual and the mortgage was formally and ceremoniously burned. For the first time our Temple was clear of all encumbrance.
There have been three mergers in our history. The first was with Legion Lodge No. 1037 on December 20, 1967 followed by Edgewater Lodge No. 901 on November 15, 1969. Finally Casimir Pulaski Lodge No. 1167 merged with us on September 15, 1993.
Visitors sometimes ask about the choice of Paul Revere as our namesake. In answer to an inquiry, Worshipful Brother Walter S. Hutchins, one of the lodge's charter members, stated that there was no particular significance in the selection of the name Paul Revere but it might not be out of place at this point to note that Brother Hutchins was a native of New England. Regardless of the motivations of our "founding fathers," we have finally considered Brother Revere's high regard for the Fraternity a sterling example. He and his patriotic exploits are a frequent topic of conversation at our refreshments.
Copyright ©2007 Paul Revere Lodge No. 998