Suffolk Masonic District History
Suffolk Masonic District History
On St. Johns Day, June 24, 1717, the members of the four lodges in the city of London met at the Goose and Gridiron Ale House in St. Pauls Church Yard. At that meeting, they organized the first speculative Grand Lodge, known as the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of England.
Freemasonry arrived in North America in 1730 when Colonel Daniel Coxe was appointed, by the Grand Lodge of England, Provincial Grand Master of the English Province, encompassing the colonies of New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. At the end of the Revolutionary War in 1787, when America had won its independence and gained recognition, the Provincial Grand Lodge of New York (established on September 5, 1781) renounced its allegiance to the Grand Lodge of England and became an independent body, known as the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of New York.
In 1867, District Deputy Grand Master R:.W:. John K. Oakley of Masonic District No. 4 (compromised all of Suffolk, King and Queens Counties), proposed to split the District territories. “The Fourth Masonic District, as now constituted, embraces a large territory and a great many lodge” (40 charted lodges and 9 under dispensation) “I would therefore, respectfully suggest that the county of Kings be constituted the Fourth Masonic District; and that the counties of Queens and Suffolk be constituted the 24th Masonic District.” In 1868-69, Kings County became District 4 and Suffolk and Queens District 24. On October 14, 1897, Grand Master M:.W:. A Sutherland designated Nassau and Suffolk two separate Masonic Districts.
Masonic light came to Long Island in Oyster Bay as Huntington Lodge No. 26 A.Y.M, with a warrant dated March 22, 1793. The Treaty of Hartford in 1650 established a boundary between Dutch and English claims at “Oysterbay”, by which the Dutch meant present day Cold Spring Harbor in the Town of Huntington. This Lodge was first represented in the Grand Lodge March 2, 1796, and continued to be represented at intervals for some years afterwards through Past Master Wright. It finally became embarrassed, and was several years in arrears to the Grand Lodge. The following record appears in the Grand Lodge Reports, December 2, 1818 : ” That the warrant of Huntington Lodge No. 26, together with the book of minutes, had been surrendered ; from which it appeared that that Lodge had not met since the 2d of August, 5806, and that, by information derived from the Worshipful
Ruluf Duryee, the late Master, the funds and property of the same were dispersed and lost.”
On April 7, 1796 Huntington Lodge No. 26 A.Y.M Master David Richard Floyd Jones read a petition from Port Jefferson requesting their assistance in forming a Lodge, with W:. Brother Moses Blachly, a Past Master of Huntington Lodge No. 26, to be the first Master. The request and assistance was enthusiastically given, and the new Lodge was named Suffolk Lodge.
The first meeting of Suffolk Lodge No. 60 was held in the Blydenburgh house at Smithtown, NY in 1797 where they met for five years after being warranted on March 7, 1797. The invitation for this first meeting was extended to all Freemasons from Manhattan to the east end forks by word of mouth or by letter delivered by walking or horseback as these were the only methods of communication at the time. That first meeting was attended by 21 Masonic members, some from Independent Royal Arch Lodge No. 2 from Manhattan, some from Huntington Lodge No 26, (which actually met in what was then Queens County) and one member in attendance, it was noted, hailed from as far as Ireland with other members who resided in Suffolk County. From 1801 to 1826 lodge meetings were held at different members’ homes located in Stony Brook, Coram, Setauket, Huntington and Smithtown.
Brothers from Huntington Lodge No. 26, living in the Hempstead vicinity, petitioned Grand Lodge to form Morton Lodge No. 63, in early 1797, because of the tedious journey to attend Lodge in Huntington was too difficult. Morton Lodge was named after the Brother of the District Deputy Grand Master R:. W:. Jacob Morton in 1797. The first meeting of the Lodge was held at the house of Arraham Bedell in the Town of Hempstead on June 24, 1797, ” being the festival of St. John ” according to the minute book, the Lodge convened under the direction of R. W. Jacor Morton, Deputy Grand Master, who installed the Lodge assisted by Huntington Lodge. The following is the petition:
” To the W. Master, Sen’r and Jun’r Wardens of Huntington
Lodge, No. 26. A. Y. M.
” Whereas it tends greatly to the advancement of Masonry that Lodges be regularly constituted in such manner that members may attend with convenience, we, your Brethren, humbly request that you coincide with ns in opinion that a Lodge may be constituted in Hempstead, as we are
confident it would tend to the welfare of the Craft by adding many respectable characters to our Order. Your consent being necessary previous to our applying for a warrant, we, with Masonic candour and with zeal for the advancement of Masonry, come forward and solicit your
” Your Brethren by Mystic Ties,
” May 4, 1797.”
David R. Floyd Jones. Richard Beadle.
Jacob S. Jackson. Wm. Mott.
Henry O. Seaman. Abraham Bedell.
Thomas Carman. Whitehead Cromwell.
The following is endorsed on the petition :
“ We, the Master and Wardens of Huntington Lodge, No. 20. having maturely considered the Petition of our Brethren—Do in behalf, of our Lodge signify the consent of our Lodge by our signature given under our hands this 4th day of May, 5797.”
Being Regular Lodge.
Witness the Seal of our Lodge.
Rulef Durea, W. M.
Coles Wortman, S. W.
Isaac V’s Nostrand, J. W.
At the communication held January 6, 1800, the records from Morton Lodge stated : ” The Worshipful Master made a motion that this Lodge dress in mourning for the space of six months, commemorative of the death of our illustrious and worthy brother General George Washington.” An invitation to meet in memorial services with Huntington Lodge was accepted.
By 1806, meetings in Huntington Lodge No. 26 had ended, and the original warrant was forfeited on March 4, 1818
Hampton Lodge No. 111 was established on July 26, 1804. Five of its early officers were masters of vessels tied up at the wharf in Sag Harbor and were most likely working for the burgeoning Long Island whaling industry. The local Masons were honored with special attention and schools were dismissed and places of business were closed to attend Masonic parades. By 1819 the lodge was disbanded after anti-Masonic sentiment started brewing in New York State.
In the minutes of Suffolk Lodge No. 60 on Sept. 8, 1819, the Lodge number had been changed from No. 60 to No. 57. The Lodge has in its possession a Tyler’s jewel which was obtained after the change and on which is engrave the No. 57-1; the other officers’ jewels were obtained earlier in the century and they are engraved “Suffolk Lodge No. 60, 1797.”
The Morgan Episode of 1826 caused most Masonic Lodges to suspend operation until the 1850’s. In 1856, Suffolk Lodge No. 60 resumed activities in Port Jefferson with the number 401. Meetings were held in the rooms of Suwassett Lodge No. 422 Independent Order of Odd Fellows. For fifty years, Masons met in Port Jefferson in Suffolk Lodge No. 401, until Grand Lodge final granted the Lodge’s appeals to restore the number 60, and the first meeting was held July 25, 1876.
Masonic light was brought to Greenport on June 19, 1855 when Peconic Lodge No. 349 received its charter. This light illuminated every Wednesday evening over the Young & Wiggins store on Main Street until 1889, later moving to the G.H. Corwin and Co. Drug Store. Peconic Lodge No. 349 has the unique distinction of being the oldest Lodge in continuous existence in Suffolk County, where it still meets to this day in Greenport.
Wamponamon Lodge No. 437 was re-instituted from Hampton Lodge No. 111, the only civic society in Sag Harbor in the mid-nineteenth century. The name of the lodge was suggested by a man from East Hampton named Nathaniel Dominy. Men in East Hampton who were interested in Masonry attended lodge meetings of Wamponamon Lodge held eventually in the former summer home of Mrs. Russell Sage, now the present Whaling
Museum in Sag Harbor.
The year 1860 marked the creation of two Masonic Lodges in Suffolk County: South Side Lodge No. 493 in Patchogue and Jephtha Lodge No. 494 in Huntington.
South Side Lodge No. 493 first met in the Havens building at the northeast comer of Havens Avenue and West Main Street. Early records and paraphernalia of the Lodge were destroyed by fire on February 22, 1862; the earliest retained records are from March 21, 1862. South Side Lodge No. 493 continued to meet in various locations in the village of Patchogue including Odd Fellows rooms, the Mills Building and Fraternity Hall.
Huntington was masonically dark until late 1859, when a meeting took place at the house of Francis Olmstead in Northport between William H. King, Jesse Carll, David Carll, John H. Jarvis, Phineas E. Sills and C.A. Floyd for the purpose of establishing a Lodge in the Village of Huntington. Named after a character in the Old Testament who served as one of the Judges in Israel for a period of six years (Judges 12:7) between the conquest of Canaan and the first king, Jephtha Lodge No. 494 was chartered on January 25, 1860. Jephtha Lodge convened for the first time on Saturday January 28, 1860 over the store of J. Fleet at the corner of New and Main St. Huntington Village, where they met for five years. Charter Oak Lodge No. 249 of New York City, donated the necessary regalia for the Officers. By 1865, the Lodge moved to a room over O. S. Sammis on the NW corner of Main St. and New York Ave. In 1869, the lodge purchased a plot of land for $1000 on New York Avenue, for the future construction of a Temple; in the interim the property was leased for $50 per year.
On November 24, 1866, twenty men met in Riverhead and agreed to contribute $260, “for the purpose of starting and furnishing Ocean Lodge of this place with necessary equipment for carrying on the work of the same”. Only 18 of these men contributed a total of $230 and became members of the newly renamed Riverhead Lodge No. 645. On March 2, 1867, at the first meeting was held in a small wooden building located in the back of a store of Jacob Meyer on what is now known as the Benjamin Place. Bare and unpainted walls, hard chairs, uncarpeted floor and a plain altar comprised the setting surrounding the start of Riverhead Lodge No. 645. On December 19, 1871, the Lodge moved to new quarters in the recently completed Odd Fellows Hall on the comer of Main Street and Griffing Avenue.
Meridian Lodge No. 691 obtained a warrant on June 3, 1869. The charter was issued on July 22, 1869, with 10 Charter members, of which eight were from South Side Lodge No. 493 and one each from Jephtha Lodge No. 494 and Delta Lodge No. 451 of New York City. Meridian Lodge No. 691 first met over a pickle factory on Grant Avenue, later moving to the corner of Main Street and Union Avenue in Islip sometime in 1884.
In 1867, approximately twenty Master Masons residing in the village of Northport and Commack, most of whom hailed from Jephtha Lodge No. 494 of Huntington, started preliminary work to form a Lodge in Northport. The Brothers first organized a Masonic Club, drawing up By Laws, setting a $25 initiation fee with $3 annual dues and selected a slate of officers for a proposed Lodge. The consent of Jephtha Lodge No. 494 was reluctantly given after the careful persuasion of Senior Warden William H. Sammis. By March 5, 1869, Alcyone Lodge No. 695 held its first meeting in Northport. On November 16, 1875 Alcyone Lodge No. 695 held its first communication in its present Lodge room, making it the longest period any Suffolk lodge has met at one location.
In 1887, a group of 22 men living in the area of Babylon, petitioned Grand Lodge to form a new lodge, six years before the founding of Babylon Village. Babylon Lodge No. 793 first met in the third floor of the Willetts Building, located on the southeast comer of Main Street and Fire Island Ave. in 1887. In 1890 Babylon Lodge No. 793 leased the upper floor of a proposed new building to be erected on the north side of Main Street. The first meeting in the new Lodge Room was held on April 1, 1891.
On May 2, 1893, Riverhead Lodge No. 645 moved its home to newer rooms on the third floor of the new Suffolk County National Bank Building on Main Street, where it met until 1957.
The cornerstone of Peconic Lodge No. 349’s new Masonic Temple was laid on November 23, 1901. On April 11, 1903 the Masonic Temple was dedicated to the memory of Bro. Johnston for his unselfish gift of $10,000 for the new Temple.
In 1902 members of the Masonic Fraternity residing in Sayville and its vicinity applied to South Side Lodge No. 493 of Patchogue and Meridian Lodge No. 691 of lslip for consent to organize a Masonic Lodge in Sayville and to Grand Lodge for dispensation. The first meeting Connetquot Lodge No. 838 met in the Odd Fellows Hall on May 31, 1902. Connetquot Lodge takes its name from the tribe of Indians that roamed over the territory within the jurisdictional boundaries of this lodge.
On December 18, 1902, twenty-seven members of the Wamponamon Lodge No. 437 from East Hampton, petitioned the lodge for a dispensation to establish a new lodge. The dispensation was approved on January 15, 1903 and Star of the East Lodge No. 843 first met at the Odd Fellows Hall in East Hampton on March 20, 1903, where it would meet for almost twenty years; the charter was received June 11, 1903.
After years of deliberation and fund raising, Jephtha Lodge No. 494 laid the cornerstone for its own temple on August 25, 1904 on New York Avenue in Huntington, where the Lodge still meets to this day. The cornerstone encases a metal box containing artifacts from that time.
In 1905 W:.Edwin Baily, three time Past Master of the South Side Lodge No. 439, offered to give a three story building, then valued at $30,000, to the Lodge for $15,000 to be paid off as a mortgage. In 1906 the Masonic Cornerstone was laid and the Temple dedicated, where the Lodge met until a fire destroyed the building in 1974.
On January 30, 1910, Suffolk Lodge No. 60 purchased the Presbyterian Church (built in 1854) for $3,500.00. They met at the new location April 4, 1912 for the first time, where the Brothers of Port Jefferson meet to this day.
Babylon Lodge No. 793 purchased Halcyon Hall on Deer Park Avenue in March 1910 for $6000, where they met until 1951.
Old Town Lodge No. 908 started a new Masonic Community in Southampton in 1913 when they ventured away from Wamponamon Lodge No. 437, the second lodge to break away from Sag Harbor in eleven years. Seventeen members met under dispensation until 1914 when a charter was granted by the Grand Lodge. The Lodge first rented the present building from the Odd Fellows Lodge and subsequently bought half, then all of it, from the fraternal organization.
On January 31, 1916, Alcyone Lodge No. 695 purchased the temple and the adjoining buildings, where it would meet until the 1930’s.
In 1916 Meridian Lodge No. 691 purchased and built a new temple on the corner of Willow Avenue and Main Street, financed through the sale of $25 bonds to the membership.
Connetquot Lodge No. 838 moved from their original Odd Fellows Hall in 1918 to the Old Methodist Church Building on North Main Street in Sayville, a donation from Brother Charles R. Brown, where the brothers meet to this day.
Amityville Lodge No. 977 was instituted in 1921. The Temple was completely constructed by the brethren of this lodge, who volunteered their time and labors. The job was exemplary as proven by the fact that only a few minor changes were required.
By 1922, Star of the East Lodge No.843 – which had been meeting at Oddfellows Hall – was looking for a building of their own. Providence intervened with the building of a new school on Newtown Lane. When the existing school building was auctioned in 1922, the Masons made the winning bid of $325 for the new section at the rear of the old building. This was moved on to a building site on the corner of Fifthian Land and Main Street and
modified to accommodate the lodge’s purposes. A modern Lodge Room was constructed on the second floor, the first floor was converted into a large ballroom, and a kitchen was installed in the rear of the building. Later a basement was built under the entire building where four bowling alleys were installed.
Bay Shore Lodge No. 1043 was founded in 1924 and met in downtown Bay Shore above a store.
Freemasonry came to Westhampton in 1907 when a petition to Grand Lodge was completed and officers elected. The brothers were then persuaded to abandon the idea. In the summer of 1924, a group of Brothers started a Square Club to raise the funds and promote the idea of starting a Blue Lodge, later meeting as the Westhampton Square Club in the Mechanics Hall on February 26, 1925.
The name Potunk Lodge No. 1071, meaning “a place where the foot sinks”, “a boggy place”, was selected over the name of Ketchabonac and Westhampton. The Lodge met at Mechanics Hall, owned by the members of The Ancient order of Mechanics, one block east of Six Corners for several years before purchasing the building.
The Great Depression afflicted hardships on Alcyone Lodge No. 695, forcing the brothers to foreclose the Northport building. Through the outstanding efforts of a few of their members, they eventually reacquired the temple in 1946 and fulfilled all financial obligations by 1953, acquiring the deed.
A new Masonic Lodge would not be formed in Suffolk for over twenty nine years. Smithtown Lodge No. 1127 started as the Smithtown Square Club in 1939, meeting at the Smithtown Diner near the theater and later moved to Veterans’ Hall in St. James. After many years of denial, Suffolk Lodge No. 60 gave its assent to the formation of a lodge in Smithtown with the grudging comment, “It won’t be the last time we hear about them!” Smithtown Lodge No. 1127 was chartered on May 4, 1949. The brethren purchased land next to the Smithtown Presbyterian Church, constructing a one story building and began holding meetings there in 1953. The second story was completed in 1957 and the lodge has continued its operation there since.
Dongan Patent No. 1134 has the distinction of being the youngest Lodge in the Suffolk Masonic District and the third chartered in the Town of Brookhaven in 155 years. Named after Thomas Dongan, the first Governor of New York colony, in commemoration of his recognition of the land-rights of English settlers and his refusal to import European feudalism. Chartered in 1951, the brothers first met in the Veterans of Foreign Wars Hall in Medford for several years before moving to South Side Lodge No. 493 in Patchogue, until a fire at the lodge in 1974 forced them to look for other accommodations.
In 1951, Mr. Erastus Munson gave 100 feet of frontage on Montauk Highway to Babylon Lodge No. 793, and by 1958 the cornerstone for the new Temple was laid. In 1961 Miss. Julia Livingston bequeathed $50,000 to the lodge; with these funds the Lodge owned the Temple free and clear of all debts.
In 1957, Riverhead Lodge No. 645 moved from their Suffolk County National Bank Building location on Main Street after sixty four years to their present location on Roanoke Avenue. The first communication of the new lodge building was held on September 3, 1957, made possible by a gift from Brother Henry W. Donald and his wife.
Bay Shore Lodge No. 1043 erected a Temple at Union and Lanier Lane in the 1950’s remaining at this location for over fifty years.
Potunk Lodge No. 1071 obtained land in January 1966, and after many delays, the zoning laws were changed in 1968. The foundation for the Temple was laid on October 5th, 1968 and with assistance from the brothers, the first communication in the new building was held on January 2, 1969 where they meet to this day.
The Lodge of Antiquity No. 11 is the newest Lodge in the Suffolk Masonic District, but is one of the oldest in New York State. Tracing its history back to Saint John’s No. 1 with a charter bearing the date December 7, 1757, by the provincial Grand Master of Modem Masons in the Province of New York. The period of confusion in New York Masonry in 1851 caused a split in the Lodge and the craft was later reunited. A new charter was issued on December 7, 1857 to The Lodge of Antiquity No. 11.
The Lodge of Antiquity No. 11 meetings were held in New York City until 1968 when the Grand Master allowed them to meet in the Methodist Church in Brentwood. In 1974 Antiquity Lodge purchased the 100+ year old building, where they meet to this day. Since the move to Brentwood, Ocean Lodge No. 156, Howard and Prince of Orange Lodge No. 16, Concord Lodge No. 50, Montgomery Lodge No. 68, and Bay Shore Lodge No. 1043 have consolidated with The Lodge of Antiquity No. 11.
The Patchogue Masonic Temple was destroyed in a devastating fire on November 7, 1974, forcing both South Side Lodge No. 493 and Dongan Patent No. 1137 to relocate. South Side Lodge met at Connetquot Lodge No.838 until 1975 when their final Temple was dedicated. Dongan Patent No. 1137 moved to St. Marks in Medford, later relocating to Suffolk Lodge No. 60 Lodge in Port Jefferson.
The Star of the East Lodge No. 838 met in their building for over 55 years until a fire consumed the rear third of the building in 1978. The East Hampton Lodge later met in a portable building on Three Mile Harbor Road. When that building was sold, the lodge moved their meetings to the top floor of the Whaling Museum in Sag Harbor for several years, which was also the meeting site for Wamponamon Lodge No. 437.
Dongan Patent No. 1137 moved from Suffolk Lodge No.60 in Port Jefferson to Smithtown Lodge No. 1127 in the early 2000’s, where they meet to this day.
South Side Lodge No. 493 forfeited their charter in 2004.
Bay Shore Lodge No. 1043 and Meridian Lodge No. 691 sold their buildings in the early 2000’s and both moved to The Lodge of Antiquity in Brentwood. Bay Shore Lodge No. 1043 eventually merged with The Lodge of Antiquity No. 11, while Meridian Lodge No. 691 continues to maintain its charter and holds its meetings in Brentwood.
Peconic Lodge No. 349 sold their building in 2005 and are presently meeting at the Mechanics Hall on Main Street, Greenport.