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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.

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