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 building 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 purchased 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 filled 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 cemetery, 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.  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 precede 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 this district.

On June 15, 1917, a committee was appointed to purchase altar lights.

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 I.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.

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 to  sell  the  property  at  the  best price available.  Further reference to this 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 financing the note of the Temple Association held 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  preceded  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 kitchen.

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 researching the  records and  compiling  this report  for our Centennial ceremony.

Fraternally submitted, Harry E. Davis, P.M.