Willis Stewart Lodge No. 224, Free and Accepted Masons was chartered
August 27, 1851, by the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of the
Commonwealth of Kentucky. The Lodge was named for Past Grand Master
Willis Stewart, a prominent Mason, Businessman and Philanthropist of
his day. Willis Stewart was a Member and Past Master of Clark Lodge
No. 54, F. & A. M. and served as Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of
Kentucky in 1835-36.
Willis Stewart Lodge has endured a Civil War, two World Wars, Korea,
Vietnam and Desert Storm. Through each succeeding generation, Willis
Stewart Lodge has diffused the light of Freemasonry in our
community, building upon each new generation of Masons, to make our
world a bit better and happier.
The City of Louisville, located strategically on the Ohio River, was
a center of commerce in the 19th century. Many prominent businessmen
of their day were Masons, and many were members of Willis Stewart
Lodge No. 224. The Lodge was set to work as an English speaking
Lodge, later changing to German and then back to English. The
language changes were made without any contention among the
Brethren, demonstrating the close bonds of Brotherhood that still
characterizes Willis Stewart Lodge today.
One of the founders of the Masonic Widows and Orphans Home, now
known as the Masonic Homes of Kentucky-Louisville Facility, was a
Past Master of Willis Stewart Lodge, Brother C. Henry Finck. Brother
Finck enlisted the aid of many Louisville area Brethren to ensure a
place for the widows and orphans of Kentucky Masons.
Brother Jack L.L. Upton was Master of Willis Stewart Lodge in 1945.
Brother Upton was determined that Willis Stewart Lodge would achieve
the financial stability needed to grow and prosper in the
generations ahead. In 1947 The Secretary of Willis Stewart Lodge,
Past Master Frank Carnes, died after a long illness. Brother Jack
Upton, thirty years old, suddenly found himself thrust into the
Office of Secretary, the most critical Office to the success of any
Masonic Lodge. Brother Upton would serve forty-four years as
Secretary and guide the Lodge through many challenges.
The decade of the fifties would bring new life to Willis Stewart and
many other Masonic Lodges. Masonry experienced a resurgence, in
large part due to the soldiers returning from war, settling down to
raise families and becoming productive members of the community. New
homes, cars and modern appliances provided more leisure time with
many men seeking membership in civic and fraternal organizations.
Even the Korean War did not slow the growth in Masonic membership.
Willis Stewart Lodge would experience rapid growth and much success
during this period. But darker days were on the horizon.
The decade of the sixties, and the challenges that lay ahead, would
result in great losses in the numbers of Masons in Kentucky. The
Vietnam War would divide the Nation, tearing the fabric of America,
dividing families, pitting brother against brother, on the streets
instead of the battlefield. Young Men were no longer seeking
membership in clubs or organizations, but withdrawing into the
concept of self as the center of their world. America was bitter and
divided, not a favorable climate for the growth of any organization
centered on love of God and Country.
The seventies were a stabilizing period for the Lodge. Secretary
Jack Upton, and the Masters he served, led the Lodge through the
post-Vietnam era, positioning the Lodge for the brighter days ahead.
On December 9, 1991, Past Master and Secretary Jack Leon Larue
Upton, longest serving Secretary in the Lodge’s history, Past
District Deputy Grand Master, 33°, died. Brother Upton had set high
standards for Willis Stewart Lodge, standards that would provide the
inspiration for the Brethren to propel the Lodge to new heights of
even greater achievement.
Kenneth L. Meredith, Past Master and Assistant Secretary, assumed
the Office of Secretary at Brother Upton’s passing.
Throughout the decade of the 90’s and the beginning years of the
21st Century, Willis Stewart Lodge experienced steady progress, with
the relocation to the present meeting facility during the term of
Past Master Charles H. Blanford. Our successive Masters and the
Officers serving with each, have continued the traditions that have
made Willis Stewart Lodge No. 224, F. & A.M. one of the most
vibrant, and successful Lodges in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.