The Beginning of Wilmette Park Lodge #931

Renneckars Drug Store

During the summer of 1907 a paper was left in the drug store of C. E. Renneckar for the signature of Master Masons residing in Wilmette who were desirous of having a Masonic lodge in the village. As result, a small group of Master Masons gathered together with Charles A. Coxe at his home on January 9, 1908, to determine if it was advisable to organize a Masonic lodge or club in Wilmette.

All present agreed that there were enough Master Masons to form a local lodge and thus, the first real step was taken toward forming Wilmette Lodge 931, A.F. and A.M. Shortly after the first meeting held in the Coxe home, a Masonic club was organized for the purpose of securing a dispensation as a lodge from the Grand lodge.

The Charles Coxe Home

The Jones Building

This club met periodically in the Jones building but was unsuccessful in securing the required recommendation from three neighboring lodges. The club was reorganized and through the efforts of George Hess, waivers for a new lodge were secured from Evans Lodge No. 524; A. O. Fay lodge in Highland Park and Des Plaines lodge in Des Plaines. Then on September 22, 1910, this small group of Masons, now enlarged, petitioned the Grand Lodge of Masons of the State of Illinois for dispensation as a lodge, with a result that Wilmette lodge, A.F. and A.M. was instituted, October 28, 1910. The Master of the lodge was Mr. Hess.

Ninety-seven names appeared on the petition for dispensation and 64 new members were added while the lodge was under dispensation. On the petition for charter, which was granted October 11, 1911, there were 142 names. A rapid growth of the lodge ensued.

The lodge first convened in the Jones building on Wilmette avenue at Green Bay road but later moved to the third floor of the Brown building at 1159 Wilmette avenue, where they found a meeting place for several years. Then early in September, 1926, the move was made to the Wilmette Masonic Temple at 1010 Central avenue. The thought of a temple, a true home for Masonic activities, had been uppermost in the minds of Masons in the village since the inception of the lodge.

The Brown Building

Early Photo of Lodge

Since the time the lodge was built, Freemasonry grew tremendously. Many lodges were formed. However, the 70s were a difficult time. Declining membership due to increased participation in health clubs, sporting activities, travel, longer work hours and many other activities occupied the primary interests of modern man. Hence, lodges did not have the membership to actively operate so many lodges. Lodges started to consolidate.

Six lodges have consolidated to form Wilmette Park Lodge #931 from 1965 until 1979. Two lodges, Golden Rule Lodge #726, under dispensation (U.D.) from the Grand Lodge of Illinois in 1875, and Equity Lodge #878 (U.D. 1905) merged in 1960 to form United Lodge #726 (U.D. 1960). In 1969, they merged with Park Lodge #843 (U.D. 1894). In the meantime, Winnetka Lodge #1078 (U.D. 1922) merged with Wilmette Lodge #931 (U.D. 1922) in 1965. In 1976, Park Lodge #843 merged with Wilmette Lodge #931 to form Wilmette Park Lodge #931. In 1979, North Evanston Lodge #1060 (U.D. 1922) merged with Wilmette Park Lodge #931.

The Consolidations into Wilmette Park Lodge 931

Many thanks to the Wilmette Historical Museum, Brothers John Tompary, Ed Rund, Ed Coussens and Jack Coussens for providing information and photos for this article.