ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF MASONRY
Arroyo Lodge No. 274 F. & A.M.
On the evening of December 18, 1883, fifteen Masonic Brothers met in Meherin’s Hall for the purpose of forming a Masonic Lodge. This build ing still exists, and is located at the southeast corner of Bridge and Branch Streets in Arroyo Grande.
At this preliminary meeting, the name of Arroyo Lodge was chosen, and the following officers were elected: John William Flint, Worshipful Master; Beder John Wood, Senior Warden; and Irwin J. Monroe, Junior Warden.
At a following meeting Shorts Hall was chosen as the Lodge’s regular meeting place. Shorts Hall was located on Branch Street where the flower shop and Dr. Pence’s office are now located. The rental cost of the hall was $100 per year.
The new officers petitioned the Grand Lodge for authorization to form a lodge in the City of Arroyo Grande.
The dispensation was granted, and the first official meeting of Arroyo Lodge was held on April 17, 1884. The stated meetings were held on the Tuesday on or before the full moon of the month.
Applications for the Degrees and Affiliations were handled by committees in Open Lodge. Dues were $6.00 a year, and later were raised to $9.00 a year in 1886. Meetings were often cancelled when Winter storms made roads impassable. Meetings were also cancelled during the Harvest Season.
On February 21, 1887 a committee was appointed to obtain two brazen pillars for the Lodge. The pillars were purchased for $62.25 on June 19, 1888. The pillars we use today are those same pillars we pur chased in 1888.
In 1888 the Secretary’s salary was $9.00 a year, and the Grand Lodge Per Capita Tax was $48.70.
The Ramona Chapter Order of Eastern Star was instituted in June 1888, and a joint installation of officers was held between the Star and the Arroyo Lodge.
On December 23, 1888 the Lodge voted to give the secretary $1.00 per meeting, which was still in effect when I fl”-‘-Umed the Secretary’s station in 1951. That year they paid our delegate to Grand Lodge $12.00. On January 8, 1895 the fees for the degrees were lowered from
$50.00 to $30.00.
During the 1890’s and early 1900’s the Lodge paid for medicine, doctor bills, and funeral expenses of its members.
During those days the Lodge would meet for a funeral service in the Lodge Room; open Lodge and repair to the deceased Brother’s home for the funeral service; then to the cemetary, and finally back to the Lodge Room to close the Lodge.
On October 7, 1902 the Most Worshipful Grand Master made his Official Visit to this area. It was a stated meeting, a very short one, after which a Third Degree was conferred.
On January 13, 1903 a committee was appointed to inquire about
moving to the 1.O.O.F. Hall on Bridge St. This stone building is still there. The committee reported that it would be better to buy Shorts Hall with the Knights of Pythias, and trustees were picked from each Lodge. On March 29, 1904 the trustees asked for and received a payment of $173.50.
On April 3, 1906 $130.00 was paid to the trustees. On January 5, 1909 a bill from Norwalk Lodge No. 315 for the funeral expenses of our late Brother Randolph Byers in the amount of $91.00 was received. On March 30, 1909 a payment of $137.00 was drawn as a final payment on the Hall. A resolution was drawn to express the gratitude of the Brothers for the efficient manner in which the Hall property was
handled by the trustees.
In the early 1900’s the By-Laws were changed so that committees of
investigation of candidates for the degrees and affiliation would be a secret committee appointed by the Worshipful Master.
At the January stated meeting, a committee was appointed to arrange
a special program for the celebration of the first twenty-five years of this Lodge … and for the installation of the 1910 officers, with a banquet
to preceed the ceremonies.
At the October stated meeting, the By-Laws were amended to read
“The Stated Meeting of this Lodge will be held on the first Tuesday of each month,” which was approved by Grand Lodge on November 3, 1914. On April 3, 1917, Brother Adriance, Inspector of the Forty-ninth District, read a communication relative to a get-together of the Masons in
On June 15, 1917, a committee was appointed to purchase altar
In October 1917 a special dispensation was asked from the Grand Master to receive and ballot without investigation a candidate who was
called into the Navy. Dispensation was granted, and on November 10, Brother Charles Maurice Denham received the Entered Apprentice Degree. On November 12 he passed to the Fellowcraft Degree, and later in Novem ber was raised to the sublime Degree of Master Mason. Brother Denham was raised by his father, a Past Master.
From 1918 to the completion of our temple, the installation of
officers was held in the 1.O.O.F. Hall.
On July 2, 1918 Brothers Raymond A. Sevier, Olin H. McCord, and
Peter Pera’s applications for the Degrees were read and accepted, and on December 17, 1918 Brother Raymond Sevier was raised a Master Mason. He is our oldest living Past Master.
I called Brother Ray for some information, and he informed me that
Brother Amos Whittemore, a Past Master of this Lodge, had demitted to Lompoc Lodge,. and was the Inspector of this district, and that Brother
Amos, an uncle of mine, would come to Oceano by S.P. Train, and
Brother Ray would meet the train and bring him to the meeting. j
At the April stated meeting (1919) the Worshipful Master authorized
the Deacon’s and Steward’s rods at the cost of $10.66. Rod Stands were )
purchased for $4.18.
The first mention about having a new building was on July 6, 1920. Officer’s jewels were cleaned and cords were replaced for $16.11 on May 3, 1921.
On the same date a warrant was drawn for $5.00 to pay for a new Master’s hat.
Brother Ray and two other Brethren went into the country and purchased three turkeys for the banquet to proceed the 1922 Installation of Officers. They took them to Ray’s house where they were killed and dressed. Then Brother Hock, a baker, roasted them.
March 1922 brought more discussion for a new Lodge hall. In Sep tember 1922 Proclamation by the Grand Master Burk requested a Public School Week be held that year during the week of September 18, 1922.
Quoting from a November 6, 1923 meeting, “Motion made and carried that the Masonic Lodge express their desire to entertain the idea of building a new hall, and that desire to be conveyed to the Hall trustees of both Lodges.”
On June 24, 1924 a joint picnic was held with the members of the Arroyo Lodge and the Ramona Chapter. Several of these were held during the early years of both bodies.
On March 3, 1925, committees of Arroyo Lodge and the Knights of Pythias were appointed to appraise the property of the combined Lodges. On April 7, 1925 the Masonic committee approached the Knights of Pythias offering to purchase their interest not to exceed $2500. On May 5, 1925 trustees of Arroyo Lodge made a proposal to the Knights to either accept $2,000. or buy out Arroyo Lodge’s share. They were given three weeks to approve or reject the proposal. On June 2, 1925 the Knights of Pythias refused to buy out Arroyo Lodge’s share because they did not have the funds, and a motion was made and carried that Arroyo Lodge buy out the Knight’s share for $2250. On August 4, 1925 Brother Hienrich made an oral report that the Masonic bodies had purchased one half of the Hall interest from the Knights of Pythias.
On January 5, 1926 the trustees were asked to contact a cpmpetent carpenter to inspect the building and have it braced if necessary. On February 2, 1926, and in 1927 and early 1928 there were many mentions of building a new hall. On May 3, 1927 an informal proposal for the purchase of Lodge property on Branch Street was received, and on May
3, 1922 a motion was made and carried that the trustees be authorized i
to sell the property at the best price available. Further reference to this l
subject indicates that Brother W. C. Poole offered to sell the Lodge a lot (name of the street not mentioned) for $650.
On May 1, 1928 a committee of three consisting of Brothers Wixon, Hienrich. and Poole (also known as the Building Committee) were authorized
to erect a Masonic building, the cost of which was not to exceed$10,600. On July 3, 1928 a motion was made and passed that $1,000 be transferred to the building account, and the trustees to negotiate loans and sign notes guaranteeing payment.
In September a resolution was read and passed to empower Brothers
- R. Hienrich, W. C. Poole, and their wives to pay all bills on the building. On September 6, 1928 it was recorded that R. L. Bird and his wife Iva M. Bird did convey lots number 7 and 8 of the Poole Tract February 4, 1928. A transcript of this is on page 127, third book of minutes.
The Secretary wrote to Brother Thomas Baker, Grand Lecturer, asking if it would be possible for the Grand Master to lay the corner stone and dedicate the new temple on October 24, 1928.
Brother Harry Truesdale was Worshipful Master in 1929, and on January 31, 1929 the officers for that year were installed by the Most Worshipful Gus A. Hutaff, Grand Master, aided by Worshipful Tom Baker as Master of Ceremonies. Prior to the installation ceremonies, the Temple was dedicated by the Most Worshipful Grand Master, and the Grand Lodge Officers.
At the May 1929 stated meeting, approval of Grand Lodge to change
the By-Laws to read, ” .. .” the stated meeting of each month will be on the third Tuesday at eight o’clock p.m.” The first stated meeting on the third Tuesday was held on June 18, 1929, and on that date a bill was presented from W. W. Mathews for $60, and was paid by the trustees.
The Worshipful Master asked the Brethren to meet on July 23 to cut the weeds on the lot, it could not be done as it rained that day.
On January 20, 1933 a motion was made and passed that the in debtedness with the San Luis Obispo Building and Loan be transferred to Brother Wixon. The secretary was asked to write the Ramona Chapter and thank them for the new curtains in the building.
On September 25, 1935 a meeting was called to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of this Lodge. Brother Harold Tannis was Master. Part of the ceremonies was the presentation of a fifty-year gold button from Grand Lodge to Brother A. W. Hawkins by Brother Adriance, representing Grand Lodge. On that same evening a gavel was presented to the Lodge by the Hespian Lodge. Brother Truesdale presented a Past Master’s apron to Brother Hawkins from the members of the Lodge.
In May 1936 there was a discussion on selling the lot on Branch Street, and on February 16, 1937 the lot was sold to Mr. and Mrs. Henry Agueda for $500.
On October 16, 1938 on motion by silent vote it was carried to sell non-interesting-bearing notes to the brothers to refinance the temple indebtedness.
On January 17, 1939 Brother W. J. Patton received the Entered Apprentice Degree. On January 24 he was passed to the Degree of Fellowcraft, and on January 31 he was raised to the sublime Degree of Master Mason.
On February 21, 1939 a committee was appointed to investigate the wfinancing th<> note.• of the T(•mph• Association lwld by Brother Wixson,
in the amount of $5197. Brother Wixson agreed to have a new note for
$5000 to be paid back at $30 a month including the interest and principal. Brother Chester Addison Wixson passed away on June 23, 1940, and full Masonic services were held at his graveside on June 25th. As noted earlier, Brother Wixson was one of the builders of the Temple.
November 18, 1941 was the first mention of Brother Chester H. Warlow as Grand Lecturer. He later became the Most Worshipful Grand Master of Masons in California. I am sure that there are many here tonight who will remember him.
On June 16, 1942 a resolution from the Grand Secretary was read
stating that the Temple Board would consist of the junior Past Master, the Worshipful Master as the chairman, the Senior Warden, the Junior Warden, the Secretary as Secretary, the Treasurer as Treasurer, and what their powers would be.
On July 21, 1942 a resolution was read asking Grand Lodge for
approval of Mrs. Emily Duncan’s admission to the Masonic Home, and on November 17, 1942 a letter was read from the Grand Secretary that the Board of Trustees of the Masonic Home had accepted Mrs. Duncan’s request.
On September 17, 1943 the Worshipful Master and several of the Brothers met to see if it would be possible for the Brothers to put up money for non-bearing interest notes (to be paid back at the death of the Brother) to raise enough money to pay off the Wixson Estate mortgage of
$1,700. Only seven volunteers of those present would do so. It was laid over for further discussion.
On September 21, 1943 a motion was made at the request of the Grand Master that the Lodges buy War Bonds. It was moved, seconded, and passed that this Lodge buy $280 worth of bonds.
On October 19, 1943 Brothers Lierly and Hienrich were appointed to consult with Mrs. Wixson and see what could be done about the mortgage. They had gone to the Recorder’s office and found that it could be paid off at $30 or more a month (this included the principal and interest), as had been learned in 1939.
On March 21, 1944 the Worshipful Master informed the Brothers that the Lodge still owed Brother Grizzle $404.50. Brother Grizzle had been one of the larger donors when the Temple was built, and had been paid back a little at a time over the years. It was moved, seconded, and passed that the Lodge pay Brother Grizzle the full amount of $404.50.
On June 19, 1945 the Worshipful Master, Brother Bosch, announced that a family barbecue would be held at Routzahn Park on Sunday, July 15th. We had several barbecues at the park before it became Lopez Lake. A letter was read from the Grand Secretary that there would be no communication of Grand Lodge this year due to the traffic conditions, however, Brother Bosch and I attended a one-day session on October 12th
in San Francisco.
At the meeting of the Grand Lodge, the minimum fees for the Degrees was raised to $50, and the Secretary read an amendment that our By-
Laws be raised to $50 to comply with Grand Lodge By-Laws. Our fees had been $35.
On Sunday July 13, 1947 several of the Brothers assembled at the Temple to have breakfast and to paint the outside woodwork. Some of the Brothers said they did not care how high they went as long as they could keep one foot on the ground. We met again the next weekend and finished the painting.
In 1948 our charter had been sent to the Grand Secretary, and on October 19, 1948 a photostatic copy and the charter were returned to us. Brother Guy Stewart, manager of the Bank of America in Arroyo Grande, said that he put the original in a vault at the bank for safe-keeping.
In the early 1950’s by order of the State Fire Marshal, the Temple had to have panic bars installed on some outside doors and a fire escape from the Lodge Room. The work was done by several of the Brothers who were handy with tools.
On May 16, 1950 Arroyo Lodge was transferred from the then 68th Masonic district to the 69th Masonic district, as explained by the Grand Lodge to equalize the two districts. The 68th district was composed of San Miguel, Paso Robles, Atascadero, San Luis Obispo, San Simeon, and Arroyo Grande. The 69th district, after the change, included Arroyo Grande, Santa Maria, Guadalupe, Lompoc, and Santa Ynez Valley. No record as yet as to when the districts were numbered as they are now.
On April 17, 1951 a letter was read from Mrs. Johanknecht, a daughter of the late Brother Wixson, that she would settle the estate for
$50 less than owed if paid within the month. It was moved, seconded, and carried that the necessary amount be transferred from the Lodge funds to the Temple Association Fund to settle the mortgage account. No figure was given.
On June 9, 1951 several of the Brothers from the Caledonia Lodge in Bakersfield traveled to our Lodge at the invitation of the Worshipful Master, formally a member of that Lodge, to confer a Third Degree, and Inspector Brother Watson told us after the Degree that there was some similarity in the work between the coast and Bakersfield. In September Brother Harry Sorensen was appointed to arrange for a bus and collect fees for a trip to Caledonia Lodge to confer a Third Degree at that Lodge. Twenty-seven of the local Brothers made the trip.
At the December 1951 meeting Brother Lierly had obtained all but one of the Past Masters and Charter Members pictures. Also on that date, the Secretary’s salary was raised to two dollars a meeting.
When the Temple was built, open flame gas heaters were put in the
north, east, and southwest corners of the Lodge and Banquet Rooms. Now we marvel that none of the lady’s long formals ever caught fire! On May 19, 1953, a Rheem low-speed gas heater was ordered for the Banquet Room, and on August 13 it was installed in the lower men’s room with the vents in the Banquet Room.
On November 17, 1953 a new four-drawer filing cabinet for the Lodge
and the Secretary was purchased at the cost of twenty-one dollars and fifty-one cents.
During the early months of 1956 many letters were exchanged between the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania and this Lodge in an attempt to get the widow of Brother Van, a member of a Lodge in that state, into the Masonic Home there. In April of that year we received notice that Mrs. Olive Van would be admitted to the home in Elizabethtown, PA, and in early May Mrs. Van was put on a plane for Pennsylvania.
On March 18, 1958 the Lodge, by motion, seconded and passed that all real property consisting of lots number 7 and 8 of the Poole Tract valued at $55,000 and all furniture, fixtures, and appliances valued at
$2,500 be transferred to the Masonic Temple Association. Also that
$2,500 of the Lodge funds be transferred to the Temple Association Funds.
In reading the minutes of yesteryear, I found where Worshipful Hugh
- Pope Jr. was raised to the sublime Degree of Master Mason on June 10, 1958 by the Past Masters of Arroyo Lodge. He served as Worshipful Master in 1964, and is now our present Worshipful Master.
On April 21, 1959 a resolution was read to raise the fees for the Degrees from $50 to $65, and by motion it was carried to become effective January 1, 1960.
On May 8, 1959 the Most Worshipful Grand Master, Phil N. Meyers made a visit to our Lodge, accompanied with his Grand Junior Deacon, the Worshipful Henry Drashner, the Inspector of this district; also five visiting Inspectors. The meeting was preceeded by a barbecue dinner.
On September 15, 1959 it was moved, seconded, and carried that the Temple Association purchase a new carpet for the Lodge Room, and also to purchase theatre chairs. The lowest of the three bids for the carpet was from a firm in San Luis Obispo for $1,800. Four of the Brothers went to the Los Angeles area and checked for used and new theatre chairs, and found the best buy was in Compton. The repainted and upholstered chairs cost $12.95 each.
On April 16, 1960 the first suggestion was made that a fire-proof vault should be built. It was to be placed in the northeast corner of our parking lot, and the Temple Association was to take charge of its building. On December 18, 1962 it was moved, seconded, and carried that a new four-drawer, full-suspension filing cabinet for use of the Lodge and
Secretary be purchased from Brittain’s Stationery for $68.
On April 16, 1963 the Secretary’s salary was raised to $30/month. September 17, 1963 was when there was the first mention of having Trestle Boards printed, and to obtain a bulk-rate mailing permit.
On April 25, 1965 there was the first-time mention of paving our
parking lot, and two bids were obtained: one from a Ferrini in San Luis Obispo for $2,135 and one from McGray in Santa Maria for $1,680; the lot size was 1400 sq. ft. A motion was carried that we accept the bid of McGray in Santa Maria.
During May and June, Brother Ernest Lynch and his helpers rebuilt
the Banquet Room tables and put formica tops on them.
On August 17, 1965 a resolution was read in two parts-first to raise the dues to twenty dollars a year and second to raise the fees for membership by initiation to seventy-five dollars. These resolutions wre voted on at the September meeting and ballot for the raising of dues resulted in nineteen in favor and four opposed. The ballot for the fees to be raised were unanimous (resolutions to become effective January 1, 1966 if approved by Grand Lodge). A letter was read from Grand Lodge at our stated meeting of October 1965 approving the resolutions.
Another letter of the same date stating that Worshipful Hugh 0. Pope Jr. had been appointed Inspector of the 506th Masonic district. Early in 1967 a carpet was laid in the Ante Room and stairway.
In March 1968 Brother Troxell asked for help to put a roof over the barbecue pit to enable the cooks to provide a barbecue dinner during a rainstorm.
On August 19, 1969 a motion was made, seconded, and carried that
the Secretary’s salary be raised from $30 to $50 a month. In February 1973 the Secretary’s salary was again raised to $75 a month.
At the August stated meeting a resolution was read to raise the dues from $20 to $25. The resolution was adopted at the September stated meeting, and at the November stated meeting a written ballot was taken; the results were 10 in favor and 30 against the resolution.
At the September stated meeting, two resolutions were read – one to raise the· dues, changing our By-Laws to read $22 a year; the second changing our By-Laws to read: The fee for the Degrees of Masonry from
$75 to $100. At the November meeting in 1975 the two resolutions were
adopted by a unanimous oral vote.
On March 16, 1976 the chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Temple Association informed the Lodge that the Association had the funds available to put a new rug in the Lodge Room and in the Preparation Room. It was moved, seconded, and carried that the Temple Association be allowed to purchase the rug. On June 16, 1976 a new rug was laid in the Lodge Room and Preparation Room.
Also, during the month of June, a new sink was installed in the
On January 20, 1979 the Most Worshipful Burton Meyer Jr., Past Grand Master, assisted by Brother Clarence Truesdale. as Master of Ceremonies, installed the officers for the year 1979.
On November 20, 1979 a resolution was adopted to raise the dues to
$24 a year, and at the December stated meeting the resolution was carried by a unanimous vote.
On January 20, 1981 the Chairman of the Masonic Temple Trustees
announced that arrangements had been made to paint the Temple in April, and asked permission to spend in excess of $1000 to defray the expense of the painting, and it was moved, seconded, and unanimously carried for the trustees to get the work done. On May 19, 1981 Brother Hinchman, who was in charge of the painting, thanked all the Brothers who helped with
the painting of the building, and that the paint cost a little less than $800. On October 20, 1981 Brother Hinchman asked for some help to paint the kitchen and the rest rooms. Also, on that date, a resolution was adopted to be voted on at the November stated meeting to raise the dues from $24 to $30. After some discussion, a written ballot was held, and the
count was 19 for and 13 against the resolution. The resolution lost, as there was not a 2/3 majority to carry.
On April 16, 1983 Brother Baldwin, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, asked the Lodge to grant the request that the trustees be allowed to spend approximately $5,000 to remove the leaking, original slate roofing, and install new asbestos-type shingles. It was moved, seconded, and unanimously carried to do so. At the stated meeting in October, Brother Baldwin announced the roof had been repaired, and that the next project was to repaint the Lodge Room. The Lodge Room was redecorated during the last week in February and the first week in March.
In closing, little did the original fifteen members ever envision what the Lodge would be today. From the fifteen charter members to two hundred and forty members today. We are sure the builders of 1928 would be pleased to see these Temple improvements.
I thank the Worshipful Hugh O. Pope Jr. for the privilege of research ing the records and compiling this report for our Centennial ceremony.
Fraternally submitted, Harry E. Davis, P.M.