History of Kennebec Lodge #5 in Hallowell, Maine
Kennebec Lodge 100th Anniversary Celebration in 1896
The first formal communication in the minutes of Kennebec Lodge related to the May 2nd, 1796 meeting at Norcross Tavern and Hall, which was located half way between Fort Western and the Hook which is now the southwest corner of the Hallowell Cemetery. The membership included notable figures such as Lemuel Toby, Nathaniel Dummer, Nicholas Winslow, Benjamin Stickney, Samuel Carr, John Stratton, H. S. Robinson, John Sheppard, Edmund Freeman and Samuel Howard. They elected Nat Dummer Worshipful Master, Lemuel Tobey Senior Warden and John Stratton Junior Warden. At a meeting on May 29th of that year, the group voted to adopt the By-Laws of Lincoln Lodge No. 3 in Wiscassett.
Subsequent meetings were held at No. 3 Kennebec Row, the location of Nathaniel Dummer’s law office until the first meeting house was constructed where Wingate’s Wharf is now located. St. John’s Day was observed there annually by vote of the Lodge.
The first Tyler elected, John Stickney, was paid three shillings each meeting. The Secretary was directed to produce the aprons, a small writing desk, drinking glasses and such furniture as needed for 12 shillings and sixpence. The dues were 1 shilling each year, the equivalent of one dollar.
January 1, 1800, the Lodge “as an expression of their sorrow and in testimony of their regard of the high worth and exalted virtue of our departed Most Worshipful Brother George Washington, voted the Master’s Chair be draped in black and that the members wear black crepe on the left upper arm constantly, and white gloves on all public days for three months.” A procession was joined on January 8th to the memory of “our Right Worshipful Brother George Washington”, and these proceedings were ordered to be published in the Kennebec Intelligencer the following day.
April 1, 1801, Amos Stoddard, who delivered the first St. John’s Day oration in 1797, and sixteen other members of the Lodge were deprived of membership for non-attendance at meetings.
July 1, 1801, “Voted in consideration of the necessitus circumstances of the widow of our deceased Brother Samuel Hussey that the Treasurer pay her $15.00 from the funds of the Lodge to enable her to perform her journey to Nantucket.
Many more acts of charity and good will were performed, which we are not at liberty to reveal. The Lodge assisted in the establishing of Temple Lodge #25 in 1817, of Hermon Lodge #32 in 1820, of Bethlehem Lodge #35 in 1862 and several others in the years since.
In 1820, as our state separated from Massachusetts, the Grand Lodge of Maine was formed with William King as the Grand Master. Albert M. Spear has the distinction of being the only member of Kennebec Lodge to serve as Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Maine. His tenure in that post lasted from 1922-1923.
An act of the Maine Legislature officially incorporated Kennebec Lodge on January 10, 1821.
Just ten years later, in July 1831, the membership went on to surrender the Lodge charter because “from the inference and combination of extraordinary circumstances, the period has arrived when it will no longer observe beneficent objects but its mere existence is made the occasion of angry excitement and unmerited Oblique.” In February 1845 the Lodge resumed its charter.
On April 19, 1865 the Lodge met to unite with other Masonic bodies in Augusta to pay proper respect to the memory of to the beloved Chief Magistrate, Abraham Lincoln, whose life was taken by an assassin. A procession was formed with local lodges, Trinity Commandry, military and civic bodies and military bands marching through Augusta to the Court House where eulogies were made.
Later that year, on September 18th, the Lodge Hall and regalia were cordially offered to Bethlehem Lodge and Trinity Commandry when they lost their facilities to “the great fire of the 17th inst.”
The minutes of December 15, 1869 provide an indication of the strength of the Lodge. At that point, the records show that in the seventy four years since the lodge was first instituted, 504 had been initiated, 478 had been crafted and 472 raised.
Wilson Hall, 17 Water Street, was built by Brother Charles Wilson in 1879 and held many social events, installations, celebrations, tc during the 1870’s and on until the 100th anniversary in 1896.
The longest period of tenancy for Kennebec lodge was in rooms rented from Kennebec Bank of Hallowell on Second Street North of Central Street. They moved in about 1817 and remained there until 1910 when they removed to the Hallowell Trust and Banking building on the corner of Water and Winthrop Streets. The Charter, which was issued by the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, was destroyed by fire in 1880 and a true copy was obtained from the Grand Lodge in 1881.
The pillars procured by the lodge were made by Mr. Allen Drew, a citizen of the city of Hallowell. Following is the presentation by Wor. Brother Austin D Knight offered ion May 11, 1881:
“Whereas this beautiful system of Masonary allegorically illustrated by symbols, lends the mind from Art in contemplating the complicated work of the operative workmen to adore the Great Creator; and Whereas the name of Hiram, the architect, comes down to us through the centuries, as one spoken of by the inspired writer as having, buy his cunning and curious workmanship beautified and adorned the Temple; Therefore, be it Resolved that Kennebec Lodge of A.F & A. Masons hereby tender to Allen Drew esq. their thanks for the artistic manner in which he wisely planned and skillfully executed the Masonic Pillars for the Lodge Room, bringing out latent and Biblical meaning to the lilywork, network and pomegranate to the equal delight and satisfaction of its members.”
The 100th Anniversary of Kennebec Lodge was held Saint John’s Day, June 24, 1896. According to the record: “the day was very pleasant. The City was beautifully decorated with buntings and flags emblematical of Masonry and particularly the Masonic Hall and the houses and shops of Masons. A procession was formed with Hallowell Police in the lead, followed by the Augusta Cadet Band, Trinity Commandry, Kennebec Lodge No. 5, Augusta Lodge No. 141, Monmouth Lodge No. 110, Dirigo Lodge No. 104, Morning Star Loge No. 41, Bethlehem Lodge No. 35, Hermon Lodge No. 32, Temple Lodge No. 25, Pittlsfield Band, Litchfield Band, Maine Commandery No. 1, followed by 12 carrages with numerous Masonic and political dignitaries.”
The anniversary procession marched to one reception after another and ended with a banquet and dance at Wilder’s Field and a Grand Ball at Wilson Hall. On record are lists of Hallowell homes and businesses who “threw out their colors” with descriptions and names of those who participated.
In 1910, Kennebec Lodge moved to its new home, at the corner of Water and Winthrop streets, above a bank. Net expenses were $2,729 to furnish the new facility, which was shared by the Lodge, Chapter, and Council. The Lodge remained there until 1970.
The “Low 12” bell was donated by Wor. Brother Lloyd O Powers and Brother John McKelvey in March 1915.
The Lodge banquet hall was given to the Red Cross in April 1918 for the making of surgical dressings.
There was no Stated Communication in October 1918 as the Board of Health ordered all churches and lodges closed during the epidemic of the Spanish influenza.
A reception was held in 1919 for Veterans of World War 1.
Lodge membership peaked at 209 in 1964.
The present day Temple was purchased in 1969 and the Trustees of the Charity Fund incorporated that year. The building, which was formerly a one room schoolhouse, was renovated to include a lodge hall and anteroom upstairs and a dining facility below.
The burden of the renovation fell on the shoulders of: Harry W. Varney, Kenneth J. Duncan, Wilton E. Dyer, Jr., Jonathan Dyer, Daniel J. Foley, Frank C. Wilson, Howard W. Varney, Merlin L Rollins, Thomas M. Lasselle, Cleveland D. Morrison, Gerald E. Allen, Herbert H. Brown, Richard A. Godbout, Hollis A. McGlauflin, Edward B. Austin, Jr. who all gave generously of their time and money. Brother Clarence E. Rollins loaned $5,000 without interest. The first meeting was held December 10, 1969 with Meron Rollins Master; Clarence Be Callahan was installed WM on December 16 and the first work was January 14, 1970 in the E.A. Degree of Robert G. Stubbs and Wendell R. Davidison. This being the first Temple owned by Kennebec Lodge in its 175 years of existence.
The three brass candlesticks were given in memory of Wor Brother Norman Gray by his family in December 1970.
Display case with lodge memorabilia
On June 19, 1971 the lodge held a festive 175 Anniversary celebration and the Temple was dedicated in ample form. Grand Master Roger I. White, D.G.M. Charles R. Glasmire and 12 other Grand Lodge officers presided over the dedication. Thomas M. Lasselle was W.M. and chairman of the Anniversary Committee, assisted by Ken Duncan, Frank Wilson, Merle Rollins, Dan Foley, and Arnold Selwood. Roast Turkey was served in the Hall-Dale auditorium. Entertainment included a magic show by Dana Perkins, who with his father, Richard, provided music for dancing along with Al Corey and his orchestra. About 300 attended the festivities.
The large picture of Wor Brother George Washington hanging in the anteroom was a gift from Congressman Charles Nelson. Brother Martin Hughes framed and hung it at no cost to the lodge in 1932.
The Square and Compass on the stairway wall was part of a floral design on the front of the Masonic Temple in 1896. The welcome sign in the stairway was used over the entrance to the tent erected on Hinckley’s Plains on the Southwest corner of what is now the Hallowell Cemetery for the 100th anniversary banquet in 1896. The safe served the three Masonic bodies from 1910 to 1970.
Kennebec Lodge Officers 2013
At least five Kennebec Lodge Officers have served as Grand Lodge Officers: Peleg Sprage was Deputy Grand Master 1828-1830; Amos Nourse was Senior Grand Warden 1830-1831; Frances Day was Junior Grand Warden in 1861; Albert M. Spear was Grand Master in 1921; Merlin L. Rollins was District Deputy Grand Master in 1977 and 1978; and Hadley O. Hawes was Grand Chaplin for the Grand Order of Eastern Star in 1896.
Although much has changed in the two centuries since the charter of Kennebec Lodge, the organization remains an active part of the Hallowell community. Over the last decade, the Lodge has attracted a steady stream of new members. Monthly meetings continue to be held the second Wednesday of each month, with the exception of January and February when the Lodge goes dark to save on fuel costs.
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