Dormont-Whitehall Lodge #684’s history. Researched, written and presented by the Pennsylvania Grand Lodge on June 26, 2016.
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Dormont-Whitehall Lodge #684’s Centennial Book
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(The following is reprinted from Dormont-Whitehall Lodge #684’s 50 year anniversary celebration program.)
The history of Dormont Lodge No. 684 is replete in dedication, action and perfection of the work. Picture if you will, the nucleus that set out to organize a Masonic Club, learning that a place of meeting was essential to the warranting of a lodge.
With nothing but high hopes, these brethren struck out to raise funds, secure land and build a hall. There were dark clouds, but the sun did shine forth and they did build and there stands today, the four-storied building on West Liberty Ave., near Potomac Ave. It was not complete but used for the first meeting.
Then there was the fire that ravaged the building in December of 1938. Members promptly encumbered their homes that funds might be raised to restore the building and lodge rooms to their former elegance. It is debt free which is something to be proud of.
Later, under the guiding hands of George B. Turnbaugh and Ward L. Kline a plan was devised to finance the debt covered by the dedicated brethren. They organized the mortgage reduction fund, selling shares at $25.00. This was completely successful and lifted the encumbrances. More could be written about this undertaking.
Let it be noted that when this lodge was warranted, there were 258 warrant members. This is the largest number of warrant members ever recorded in the warranting of a new lodge in this state.
The grand master was present in July of 1925 when Hamilton Alderdice was raised by Philip A. Doeblin. He remarked later it was the most perfect work he had ever seen. This is related merely to indicate the degree of perfection, officers of Dormont Lodge strove for.
At the past masters’ night in 1961 the lodge decided to present aprons to all past masters. All living masters have received them.
In September of 1961, the first fellowship dinner was enjoyed-members paying for their dinners. These are held in a local church dining hall at 6 P.M. preceding the first stated meeting in the fall.
In the beginning, Masonic brethren in the newly settled Dormont area merely sought Masonic fellowship. And to gain this fellowship, it was felt that a masonic Club would suffice. Thus, it was not the original intent to cause a lodge to be lawfully warranted and duly constituted. But a little retrospection may be in order.
With the opening of the trolley tunnel in 1904, many Pittsburghers sought escape from the crowded conditions and the everlasting pall of smoke. At the turn of the century many immigrants came to Pittsburgh, and soon were crowding from the lesser attractive areas into the more attractive areas. Those who sought escape through the tunnel, settled in what became Dormont Borough where there was more sunshine and cleaner air.
In the early days there were no street lights, nor were there sidewalks. Finally, the citizens had boardwalks laid in order to have dry walking in wet weather. Residents carried lanterns at night to find the way and one can readily imagine some of the comments as they met on the walks. The situation was such as to generate neighborliness.
And so it came to pass that Mason met Mason and found there to be a goodly number of the brethren. There were so many that Dormont soon was to be known as a Masonic community. Most of them were far removed from their lodges, transportation was difficult and they hungered for fellowship. (Remember the humpty-dumpty four-wheel trolley)
Staunch supporters of the club project were Dr. Charles E. Fawcett, Percy H. Johnson, Frank Ryman, Oscar Croker, Walter Long and Walter Linhart. They had a number of meetings to lay plans for the formation of a Masonic Club. William D. Mcllroy, then D.D.G.M. for the district, learning of their plans, suggested they include the formation of a lodge, devise ways and means to provide a suitable building for both the lodge and club. The seed was sown. It germinated and grew beyond the fondest hopes of the original planners.
Mindful that one of the requisites provided the new lodge must have a proper place to meet, this dedicated group moved forward. The South Hills Masonic Hall Association was formed with Frank Ryman as president. An active campaign was inaugurated to raise funds for the purpose of securing a site and erection of a building. The association was capitalized at $60,000.00 with shares at $25.00 par value. Of course, only Masons could hold shares. Dormont Lodge and its members have always held a majority of the stock.
Dr. Charles E. Fawcett, Walter Linhart and Oscar Croker were named to raise funds. The first effort brought in $400.00. However, they were very active in getting members for what was then known as the South Hills Social Club. They were successful on both counts. The club was later reorganized as The Almas Club of Dormont.
Several sites were considered for the proposed new building. They were at West Liberty and Peermont; West Liberty and Dormont; Broadway and Potomac; Glenmore and Potomac and the present site, West Liberty near Potomac. John Anderson, though not a member of the Craft, was very sympathetic to the movement and made a generous offer on the site. Thus the selection was not at all difficult.
When the Post Office Department offered to rent a portion of the first floor, the project seemed assured, and a vigorous stock selling campaign was inaugurated. The whole effort was fraught with many discouragements, but the devoted brethren were courageous and determined to see it through and success finally crowned their efforts.
The South Hills Masonic Hall Association had been chartered September 12, 1914. A month later, October 10, to be exact, at a meeting of the directors, a committee was named to explore the procedure in forming a Masonic Lodge. Those named were Dr. Fawcett, president; Percy H. Johnston, secretary; J. C. Wiegman, L. A. Sneary, Frank Ryman, Oscar Croker, Walter Linhart, Elmer H. Johnson and David Stonecypher.
The first meeting of this committee was held two days later at the home of Brother Sneary. Fifty-three names were proposed and acted upon by secret ballot. Brother Wiegman was appointed a committee of one to consult Brother McIlroy for directions and to inquire into the funds required to erect a lodge. A meeting was held in the home of Brother Sneary, November 2, at which Brother McIlroy detailed the procedure, laying stress on there being a proper place of meeting.
The building project was of prime importance to all concerned during the greater part of the year following, the brethren being convinced they must have a proper place of meeting. Work toward fulfillment of the dream of a lodge also moved ahead.
On October 15, 1915, Dr. C. E. Fawcett, J. Frederick Kuhlman, Oscar Croker and Walter Linhart met in Dr. Fawcett’s office. The object of this meeting was to begin positive action toward the formation of a lodge, and one of the first acts was to secure a warrant master. The names of Harry Milligan and Oliver B. Alcorn were presented. Milligan declined and Alcorn accepted.
At the next meeting, Percy H. Johnston, Frank Ryman, Walter Long and George Gray were added to the committee. This gave a real working force. Two meetings a week were held. Lists of names of brethern were gone over for the purpose of action.
When one considers the time and effort put forth to visit all those approved by the committee and do all things necessary to insure they would resign from their respective lodges to be available for the new lodge, it seems colossal. And some of these brethren were from jurisdictions other than Pennsylvania.
After many meetings and a great deal of work, the committee approved a total of 287 who agreed to sign the petition for a warrant. This was a boon to the committee and the lodge was assured. A general meeting was held in the Mt. Lebanon Baptist church on Alabama Avenue, when it was learned that only 261 had actually resigned from their lodges in time to be able to sign the petition.
The officers chosen for the new lodge were Oliver B. Alcorn, Worshipful Master; Charles E. Fawcett, Senior Warden; George Gray, Junior Warden; J. Frederick Kuhlman, Secretary and Oscar Croker, Treasurer. These officers as a committee, presented the petition for a warrant at the quarterly communication of the right worshipful grand lodge on June 7, 1916.
The fee for the warrant was provided by Guyasuta Lodge No. 513. On motion by Right Worshipful Grand Treasurer Hackenburg, seconded by Right Worshipful Past Grand Master Orlady, it was recommended that the petition be given favorable consideration and referred to the grand officers for action. The committee from Dormont having properly responded to the Grand Lodge committee, it was assured that the warrant would be granted. Therefore, June 23, 1916 was specified as the date for constitution.
Those who had worked so laboriously for the cause were highly elated and greatly satisfied with the culmination of their efforts. They certainly deserved to be. On the eventful day, June 23, 1916, some 258 of the 261 brethren who had signed the petition, were present. However, there were 136 visitors. A special communication of the Grand Lodge opened at 12:05 P.M. that date in Masonic Temple, Fifth, Lytton and Tennyson Aves., for the purpose of consecrating the members and constituting Lodge No. 684. A name had not been chosen.
It is to be noted that to this date, this is the largest number of warrant members in the constitution of a new lodge. It is also note-worthy that 75 lodges and 17 jurisdictions were represented. Just another of the characteristics that entered into the making of Lodge No. 684, a most unusual lodge. And this tenant has continued as Dormont Lodge continued to flourish through the years.
The minutes of Grand Secretary John A. Perry on the special communication of that date, read:
“The ceremony of consecration being concluded, these officers were installed in ancient form:”
Oliver B. Alcorn, Worshipful Master
Charles E. Fawcett, Senior Warden
George Gray, Junior Warden
Oscar Croker, Treasurer
- Frederick Kuhlman, Secretary
Lawrence T. Stevenson, Pursuivant
Percy H. Johnston, Senior Steward
Charles A. Stoner, Junior Steward
James L. Williams, Senior Deacon
Earl Younger, Junior Deacon
Thomas R. Williamson, Senior Master of Ceremonies
Harry E. Carson, Junior Master of Ceremonies
James M. Gray, Chaplain
Benjamin Poole, Tyler
“The grand marshall proclaimed Lodge No. 684 duly constituted and Grand Lodge closed in harmony at 2 o’clock and 50 minutes P.M.”
This then, is the general story of how Dormont Lodge No. 684 came into being. However, the name Dormont had not been decided upon at this time, the name by agreement having been left open for later consideration and decision. A suitable place for meeting now became of utmost importance. The new building which had been under construction was nearing completion but was not ready and the brethren were anxious that the lodge be at labor. So, the contractor was pushed but progress seemed too slow to suit the brethren.
Therefore, the first meeting was held July 21, 1916 in an unfinished hall. A paragraph here is needed to give a description of the situation under which this meeting was held.
The walls were not plastered and the floor was not laid. Windows were without sash and doors yet to be hung. So, you see the hall was wide open and there, was no furniture. But all this did not deter the brethren who were anxious to be at labor.
They hung canvas over the doors and windows in order to secure the hall. They rounded up nail kegs across which they placed planks for seats. Then they set up a large square box to serve as the altar. Three candles were properly placed and they were ready for the meeting.
Although the hall was very dimly lighted, 163 members were present and they had 36 visitors. That was the beginning, but the high interest augured well for the future of the lodge. And, 37 petitions for initiation and membership were presented.
One of the items of business called for a preparation of by-laws. This was acted upon and Joseph G. Moorhead, Willard A. Lanning, James H. Phillips and John M. Greer were appointed a committee to pursue the task. It is of interest that 18 pages were required to record the minutes of the meeting.
The most important act at the August 18th meeting, looked toward the selection of a name for the lodge. Justus Mulert, Thomas R. Knowlson, Edwin G. Hays, Frank Ryman, Ross R. McCoy and William McKnight were instructed to select a name. It is well to pause here to follow the selection of a name even though it overlaps a number of meetings.
The committee reported at the November stated meeting, suggesting the name “Mount Calvary”. This was rejected very promptly and the committee was directed to continue its work. And so, at the February stated meeting, the committee submitted these names: Brotherhood, Fidelity, Kilwinning, Trinity and Unity. The master ordered balloting and out of the blue came the name “Dormont”. On motion “Dormont” was made first choice and “Kilwinning” second choice. The secretary was instructed to forward this action to the Grand Master for approval which seems to have been very prompt, establishing the name as “Dormont”.
And now, to get back to those early meetings. It was in them that the foundation of Dormont Lodge No. 684, F.&A.M. was so solidly laid. At the September meeting, proposed by-laws were presented. Robert R. Elder, Worshipful Master of Fort Pitt Lodge No. 634 presented an Altar Bible to the lodge.
The by-laws were adopted at the October meeting when 98 members and 160 visitors were present. They provided an initiation fee of $50.00, admission $15.00 and dues $8.00. At this meeting, James C. Weir, Worshipful Master of Homewood Lodge No. 635 presented a gavel to the lodge. At a work night later in the same month, a large number of the brethren from Guyasuta Lodge No. 513 were present. At the December stated meeting, 21 petitions were presented. Officers were elected and installed. The trustees reported $4,000.00 had been invested in South Hills Masonic Hall stock. Lodge paraphernalia had cost $653.13 and kitchen utensils $300.14. The balance in the treasury was $1,006.53.
During the first six months of the life of the lodge, six stated meetings were held and 20 extra meetings. The membership had increased to 302 by the initiation of 38 and the admission of six. World War I involved this country in April of 1917 when Dormont Lodge was still an infant, though a thriving one, less than a year old. The war had its effect and during 1917 only 44 were added to the roll, just one more than during the first six months. In 1918, only 18 were added. The influenza epidemic also took its toll.
However, in 1919, activity revived and 76 were initiated and admitted. And, 1920 saw 93 initiated and admitted. The number dropped back to 77 in 1921 with the membership at 586. The lodge then continued a solid growth until the depression days put pressure on the populace. And, during that period as few as three were initiated and admitted one year.
Display of the American flag and the singing of America became a part of the opening of the lodge, during the war. District Deputy Grand Master McIlroy presented the lodge with a service flag in honor of members in the service. Later a bronze tablet was placed in the lounge. At the start, members in the service were given a Grand Lodge certificate in a folder. As this was discovered to be rather inconvenient, metal discs were substituted.
Melvin John Bauer was the first to receive all the work by dispensation, in one night. The date was July 26, 1918.
It was in that year, the Grand Lodge adopted the $20.00 for the Home at Elizabethtown. The first request for admission to the Home was by Charles R. Dallas and his wife. That was September 19, 1919 and Brother Dallas died January 20, 1920.
The George Washington Memorial having received the blessing of the Right Worshipful Grand Master, the lodge was requested early in 1920 to seek funds for it. Of the membership, 143 responded with $1.00 and the lodge advanced the balance of the $343 promised. The Secretary was instructed to collect $1.00 each from those who had not given.
Louis F. Wentz was district deputy at the time. Things were looking up for the lodge. The hall had been decorated, portieres were hung and all was really inviting. At the stated meeting June 18, 1920, the brethren decided to splurge and enjoyed strawberries and ice cream. There is no record as to whose idea this was, but it has become traditional to have strawberries and ice cream at the June stated meeting. Some 118 members and 30 visitors attended the first festival.
There is an interesting entry in the minutes of 1921 which report: “Candidate for entered apprentice failed to appear. Entered apprentice lodge was closed and Master Mason lodge opened. Four were raised. Candidate for entered apprentice appeared and presented himself and a brother arose and objected”. No further record on this incident appears.
As the first five-year period of the lodge drew near an end, several items of importance and interest were on record. The brethren had responded liberally in the nation’s drive for funds during the war. The lodge had raised the dues one dollar per member for a five-year period to assist in the completion of the Allegheny Cottage at Elizabethtown.
The lodge had been closed by the flu epidemic so there were only 49 stated meetings and 173 extra meetings. By completion of this period, 300 had been initiated and nine admitted, making the total membership 586. The bank balance was $1,166.20. The trustees reported 607 shares of Masonic Hall stock, value $15,175 and $2,500 to be invested.
Harry J. Weimar, Past Master of Monongahela Lodge No. 269, presented the lodge with a gavel made from cedars of Lebanon. A new organ had been purchased, the piano having been procured earlier. Although the records are silent, there seems to have been an organ from the early days
Individual receipts had been entered in the minutes and this practice continued until March 16, 1923. After that period such entries were made in a cash book. At that time, the initiation fee was raised to $120.00 and there it remained for 30 years.
The growth of the South Hills area and the wonderful growth of Dormont Lodge, prompted some thinking that another lodge should be warranted and duly constituted. Charles R. Young, a member of Sunset Lodge No. 623, Washington, Pa., with this in mind, consulted with Percy H. Johnston and James L. Williams, both past masters of Dormont Lodge. They thought a new lodge would be beneficial to Freemasonry in the area and presented the plan to officers and past masters of Dormont Lodge.
All gave their approval and requested that Brother Young proceed with the initial plans. He conferred with Louis F. Wentz, District Deputy Grand Master who assured him of support and assistance. So, the first lodge to be born of Dormont Lodge was in its conception.
As a result of this, the lodge recommended favorable action by the Right Worshipful Grand Lodge on the petition for a warrant for a new lodge to be constituted in Dormont. Later the proper officers were authorized to draw the necessary funds to pay for the warrant. (The Grand Lodge, shortly before this action, had raised the fee from $200.00 to $300.00) There is no record of any members of Dormont Lodge No. 684 resigning to become warrant members of the new lodge.
John A. Brashear Lodge No. 743 came into being and in the course of the next couple of years was firmly established. The meeting night of this lodge was the night before the stated meeting of Dormont Lodge and the members of the former lodge felt this conflicted. It asked for the release of the second Friday of each month and the request was granted.
At an extra meeting June 10, 1925 with, 107 members and 120 visitors, the lodge was honored by an informal visit by Samuel M. Goodyear, Right Worshipful Grand Master. He was accompanied by William S. Snyder, Right Worshipful Junior Grand Warden; Charles E. Roberts, Right Worshipful Grand Treasurer and John A. Perry, Right Worshipful Grand Secretary.
Daylight Savings Time an outgrowth of World War I had caused considerable confusion. So, the Right Worshipful Grand Master revoked all conflicting edicts and made daylight Savings Time lawful in all communities in which it was current. It was stipulated however, that the time of the meeting be given in the notice to so indicate.
The tenth anniversary of the lodge was observed at a special meeting held June 22, 1926, with 287 members and 10 visitors present. The lodge was honored by the presence of William M. Hamilton, Right Worshipful Grand Master. He was accompanied by Benjamin Page, Right Worshipful Grand Junior Warden and Harold Obernauer, District Deputy Grand Master. The lodge was opened at 5:30 P.M. and closed at 6: 15 P.M. A banquet followed with Charles E. Fawcett, Past Master as toastmaster. Addresses were made by the grand officers with music by the Keystone Male Singers. Walter S. Lobinger, Worshipful Master was general chairman.
The first decade of the lodge ended with a membership of 745. This was the result of 50 stated meetings and 148 extra meetings. There were 12 admissions and 175 initiations during the second five year period. The bank balance was $286.70. The trustees reported $25,775.00 in stock and $25.00 in cash.
The lodge readily voted to send $100.00 for the Mississippi Flood relief. This was urged by the charity committee which had always been very active.
The hall was enlarged and the lounge refurnished. A meeting was held April 11, 1928 that the Masonic Brethren might view what had been done to the premises. The attendance was quite large with 210 members and 417 visitors. The latter represented 77 Pennsylvania lodges and 17 jurisdictions other than Pennsylvania. Masters of 27 lodges attended. Past Master James L. Buchanan sent a letter of regret, a classic presentation of Masonic progress.
The first reference of past masters’ night appears in the 1928 minutes. Then, all stations were filled by past masters who did all the work. This became an annual practice.
As the twenties ended and the thirties began, the first troubles for the lodge reared their ugly heads. While there was growth, it was not the kind of growth the lodge had been experiencing
The 15th year ended with a membership of 804. There were 128 initiations and two admissions in the 50 stated meetings and 107 extra meetings. The report of the trustees showed a small gain over that of 1926, hardly worth recording.
The lodge next entered upon its period of grievance-the darkest in its history. The depression really began to have its effect. This was followed by the flood and the fire, the later causing great damage to the hall.
One of the benefits of the depression was the organization of the Masonic Employment Association which was to be helpful to many. George Lang was the first representative from Dormont Lodge to the association. It is still serving its purpose today.
Having lost the post office as a tenant, the Hall Association was having some financial difficulties. The edict from the Right Worshipful Grand Master, regarding meeting in the same building with certain other organizations, shed little happiness on the situation.
The lodge itself was having problems. Expenses were trimmed sharply. Compensation to the Secretary was reduced 75 percent and he was a year behind in pay. Unpaid rent mounted and grand lodge dues were paid in partial payments. However, the brethren were undaunted by these obstacles.
On March 17, 1936, the three rivers went on a rampage, flooding Pittsburgh and the surrounding communities. Utilities were knocked out everywhere. But Dormont Lodge was undaunted. The stated meeting was held on March 20 as usual. Candles and flashlights furnished the illumination. There were 32 members and three visitors present.
The twentieth anniversary was observed in June 1936. Because of all the trials of the lodge in the period including this year, there was no special expense. However, the lodge did have a grand visitation by Acting Right Worshipful Grand Master John A. Lathwood. There were 167 members and 191 visitors present.
District Deputy Grand Master Norval R. Daugherty visited the extra meeting for the raising of William McKenzie Taylor. The event brought 227 visitors.
The observance of the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Constitution, was the high point during the year of 1937. Rev. Hugh Thomson Kerr delivered an address on “Freemasonry and the Constitution” to 87 members and 205 visitors.
The year of 1938 did not show any great activity, other than that the balance of salary for the Secretary for 1937 was paid. This was done at the December 23rd meeting. However, there was a eulogy by District Deputy Grand Master Harold Obernauer on the late District Deputy Grand Master Norval R. Daugherty.
Tragedy struck on December 28, 1938. Early that morning fire was discovered. Before the flames could be brought under control, considerable damage was done to the hall building.
The lodge room was especially hard hit. Equipment and paraphernalia were all but destroyed. As a result there could be no thought of holding any meetings at all pending complete renovation.
Carnegie Lodge came to the rescue and through its generosity, meetings proceeded without interruption. Use of the facility was granted without fee or reward of any kind and Dormont Lodge voted an appreciation.
Directors of the Hall Association, pledging personal credit, were able to secure funds needed for the rehabilitation of the hall. Thus through strong determination and extended effort, the hall and lodge room were restored. Hence the stated meeting of April 21, 1939 was held in the renewed lodge room. There were 92 members and 59 visitors present.
During the period of dislocation, the annual memorial services were held in January in the Carnegie lodge room. Also, during that period, Past Master James M. Gray was granted the privilege of conferring all three degrees on his son Paul Martin Gray.
The ten-year period just past was rather void of activity because of general conditions. There were 100 stated meetings and 86 extra meetings with 97 initiated and 12 admitted during the period. There were only three initiated in 1939. The membership dropped to a low of 659 in 1939.
The holdings in hall stock had been increased by about $1,000 bringing it up to 1212 shares. The value put on this was $30,300.00, but the Hall Association was heavily in debt and the lodge was not current in its obligations.
Still, interest was very much alive for when the lodge celebrated its 25th anniversary, several months late at a special meeting on October 22, 1941, 169 members and 137 visitors were present. The meeting was visited by Right Worshipful Deputy Grand Master John A. Lathwood.
The economy of the nation which had fluctuated-mostly downward, in spite of all the innovations of the federal government, was stabilized by the war which began on December 7, 1941. This event marked the turning point in the financial affairs of the lodge.
The next year seems to have been built around the war. There was Eastern War Time and the institution of the flag ceremony. The Grand Lodge formed the Masonic Military and Naval Service Committee upon which Dormont Lodge named a similar committee. It was required to keep track of those who entered the service of their country and inform the lodge of their well-being.
Then came the air raid instructions and drills. This fell upon the shoulders of the Worshipful Master. It was about this time that the lodge received a bequest of $436.92 from the estate of George Jordan Churchill. Also, the lodge was presented with an electric clock.
Walter S. Lobinger was the first member of the lodge to receive a 50-year button. The ceremony occurred at the stated meeting held on August 20, 1943. At the December meeting of that year, J. Frederick Kuhlman who had served as secretary of the lodge since its constitution, resigned, after 27 years of service, having missed only six meetings. Past Master Frederick W. Hecker was elected successor.
Noting that the period of bleakness was beginning to wane, the lodge decided to establish a sound fiscal policy. Past Masters George B. Turnbaugh and Ward L. Kline undertook the task. To them go the credit for having planned and pushed to success, the liquidation of the $36,000.00 mortgage on the hall and for putting the lodge in shape financially. They advocated sound investments for the future and these plans have been followed.
And as the year 1945 approached, the affairs of Dormont Lodge were coming into their own. Thus, some real steps forward were made as the war neared an end.
In September of 1945, the lodge decided that unpaid rent be paid as soon as funds became available. As a result, the lodge started to pay off in February of 1946 and by May of that year was current.
The 30th anniversary, observed in June, was held in a spirit of great relief and one of advancement. Past Master David H. Stewart of St. James Lodge No. 457 gave an address. Joseph F. Moore and Edward W. Stevenson, Sr. spoke on the activities that led to the formation of the lodge. There were 142 members and 76 visitors present.
The beginning of a new era marked the end of the 30th year of the life of the lodge. The five year period just ended showed that 238 members had been initiated and there were 36 admissions. The membership stood at 849.
Financially the lodge was becoming solid. The trustees reported holding $35,150.00 in Hall stock. The Hall was no longer in any danger. Other holdings were $370.00 in F Bonds; $8,000.00 in G Bonds and $3000.00 in C Bonds.
The records show that 43 members of the lodge saw service in World War II. “Old Timers’ Night”, June 20, 1947 was attended by 180 members. Of the living past masters, 21 of the 23 were present. Twenty-seven of the living 127 warrant members also were there.
Further evidence of the renewal in Dormont Lodge is disclosed by the attendance during 1948. The low of that year was 120 at the stated meeting in February and the high was 177 at the June stated meeting. The average for the 10 stated meetings was 136.
At the May meeting 12 brethren were raised. The lodge had entered 103 that year.
The custom of sending the immediate past master to the Grand Lodge was altered in 1948. Instead, it was decided to send the Senior Warden. This action has since been followed.
The South Hills area continued to expand and the population grew. Therefore, it was to be expected that still another lodge would come into being very soon. This expectation however, was much underrated. Dormont Lodge was bulging at the seams in membership.
As 1949 rolled around, there was action before the mid-year, for the constituting of two new lodges. The first of these was the William D. McIlroy Lodge and the second, Bethel Lodge. Some forty members resigned from Dormont Lodge for the purpose.
Dormont Lodge took action favorably on both. It voted $300.00 for the purchase of a warrant for the William D. McIlroy Lodge. When Bethel Lodge came up for consideration, Dormont Lodge voted $100.00 toward the purchase of a warrant and $400.00 to assist in the establishment of the lodge.
At the November stated meeting of this year, Worshipful Master John W. Thomas who had left a sick bed to preside, was felled by a heart attack at the close of the lodge and died in the arms of his brethren. The brethren reassembled in the lodge room where the speaker of the evening, Rev. Frederick Kempster of Lee Center Lodge No. 146 of Illinois, conducted a prayer service.
The thirty-fifth anniversary of the lodge was observed June 15, 1951. Two of the original members spoke in detail on the various phases of the history of the lodge. The flag ceremony had been reinstated that year.
The close of this five-year period showed 341 entered and 32 admitted, bringing the total membership up to 1080. This was accomplished even though the lodge had supplied a nucleus for two new lodges. The trustees reported 1531 shares in Hall stock of a par value of $38,275.00, $370 in F Bonds and $33,000.00 in G Bonds. The lodge was healthy again.
It was in the previous September meeting that the lodge was notified of the printing of booklets summarizing the principles and teachings of Freemasonry. A communication from Right Worshipful Grand Master William Yeager, instructed the lodge in their usage.
Booklet No.1, “On The Threshold” is given to the petitioner after he has been approved and before he receives the first degree. Booklet No.2, “The Entered Apprentice” is given to the candidate after he has received the first degree. Booklet No.3 “The Fellowcraft” is given to the candidate after receiving that degree and Booklet No.4, “The Master Mason” is given after he is raised.
Henry Klinzing having joined the ranks of Past District Grand Masters, Dormont Lodge was again honored by the appointment of Edward E. Johnson, P.M. as his successor. He was formally presented to the lodge as such at a special meeting by Right Worshipful Grand Master Albert T. Eyler, February 29, 1952. He also took this opportunity to thank Brother Klinzing for his long and faithful service.
The year of 1952 proved to be very active and the finances continued on the healthy side. The report of the trustees at the stated December meeting showed $38,800.00 holdings in Masonic Hall stock; $33,000.00 in Series G, Government Bonds; $1,000.00 in Series K Bonds; $370.00 in F Bonds and $711.34 in cash.
The Right Worshipful Grand Master, accompanied by officers of the grand lodge, made an informal visit to Dormont Lodge at the January 1953 stated meeting. He took the occasion to present 50 year buttons. He then gave an interesting address on “The Lodge and the Church”.
The report at the February stated meeting showed that the lodge had actually gained 16 in total membership in 1952. The membership at the end of 1951 was 1,080 and at the end of 1952, 1,096. Thirty-four were initiated and 17 had died.
The end of 1953 showed continued growth in the finances of the lodge. The trustees reported at the December stated meeting, the holding of 1611 shares in the South Hills Masonic Hall Association stock, value $40,275.00. They also reported $33,000.00 in G Bonds; $7,000.00 in K Bonds; $370.00 in F Bonds and cash on hand, $236.34.
An effort was made at the February 1954 stated meeting to have a three-stop automatic elevator installed in the building at the expense of Dormont Lodge. There were two presentations to authorize such action, but considerable discussion, failed to gain favorable action. And so, after 50 years, the building still lacks an elevator.
The year of 1954 continued along with stated and extra meetings, but with nothing of special importance to report. The year’s end however, showed the lodge continued to absorb outstanding shares in the South Hills Masonic Hall Association. At the year’s end it held 1625 shares valued at $40,625.00. As will be seen in the January 1955 stated meeting, the lodge voted $2,500.00 to the trustees for investment and the tyler’s compensation was increased, thus indicating that the lodge was affluent.
A decree from the Right Worshipful Grand Master was read at the February 1955 stated meeting requiring memory work on the part of officers. He decreed that although the ancient charges are not a part of the esoteric work, the charge at the opening and closing of a lodge must be recited from memory at all stated meetings. He also decreed that at the initiation, passing and raising the charges, must be recited from memory, during the conferring of each degree
The lodge was granted permission by the Grand Lodge at the May stated meeting to make the lodge room available for a chapter of the Order of DeMolay to hold sessions. At the same meeting the lodge was advised that a receipted dues card be issued each year to each of the life members.
The Grand Lodge notified the lodge at the September 1955 meeting of an increase in dues from $2.00 to $4.00 and an increase in initiation fee from $40.00 to $60.00. As a result the lodge raised the total initiation fee to $160.00 and the annual dues for the lodge to $8.00 as apart from the Grand Lodge dues. Action on this was taken at the October stated meeting.
As the year ended the trustees reported that the lodge continued to flourish financially. It increased its holdings in South Hills Masonic Hall stock to 1636 shares at the value of $40,900.00. The holdings in G Bonds stood at $33,000.00 while the K Bonds increased to $16,000.00.
Action was had at the January 1956 meeting, empowering the Worshipful Master to organize plans for a banquet celebrating the 40th anniversary of the lodge in June of that year. The banquet was to be for all members and the entire cost to be paid by the lodge.
A special meeting of the lodge was held for the purpose of receiving Grand Lodge officers prior to the 40th anniversary banquet. The meeting was closed that the brethren might attend the dinner at the Gateway Plaza. The Right Worshipful Grand Master was unable to be present and was represented by the Right Worshipful Deputy Grand Master Sanford M. Chilcote and other officers. There were 519 members and guests at the banquet. Brother Park H. Martin spoke on “The Pittsburgh Renaissance, A New American Skyline”. Past Master William B. Stricker was toastmaster.
The membership at the end of 1956 was 1,190. The report shows that during the year 5 were admitted, 37 initiated, 19 had died, 1 resigned and 6 were suspended. The financial status revealed that $25,726.90 had been received and after paying all obligations, $9,504.03 remained in the treasury.
The trustees report indicated steady financial growth. The lodge held 1,648 shares in the South Hills Masonic Hall Association; $33,000.00 in G Bonds; $16,000.00 in K Bonds and had $5,102.90 on deposit with the Mt. Lebanon Federal Savings and Loan Association. At the end of 1957, the trustees reported the financial status to be 1,666 shares in the South Hills Masonic Hall Association valued at $41,650.00; $33,000.00 in G Bonds; $16,000.00 in K Bonds; $5,000 in U.S. Treasury 4% Certificates; $5,257.14 in the Mt. Lebanon Federal Savings and Loan Association and $614.32 in cash.
Membership in the lodge reached an even 1,200 by the end of 1957. During the year 6 were admitted, 44 initiated, 25 were deceased, 3 resigned and 12 were suspended.
Rev. Louis B. Holzer, assistant minister of the Mt. Lebanon Baptist Church conducted a special service of dedication of the new altar Bible at the January 1958 stated meeting. This followed the memorial address by Rev. Holzer who is a member of Independence Lodge No. 80, Milwaukee, Wisc.
Action was taken at the February stated meeting providing that a Bible be presented by the lodge to each newly raised brother. The lodge also voted an initial purchase of 50 Bibles for this purpose.
The worshipful master announced the deaths of eight of the brethren at the September stated meeting. Among them was Past Master Charles Emerson Fawcett, warrant member and one of the originators of this lodge.
By the end of 1958, the lodge had a dollar value of $107,652.99. During the year, many of the government bonds had matured and had to be reinvested. So, the accounting shows that the holdings were G Bonds $25,000.00; K Bonds $16,000.00; H Bonds $10,500.00; Treasury 4% Bonds $5,000.00; 3% % bonds $3,000.00 and 1,681 shares of South Hills Masonic Lodge Association stock valued at $42,025.00.
The membership dropped from 1,200 of 1957 to 1,192 by the end of 1958. Deaths numbering 25 helped to account for this. There were 3 admitted and 24 initiated during the year. Three had resigned and 7 were suspended.
The minutes record that action was taken at the March meeting, authorizing the Worshipful Master to appoint a committee to purchase a new altar for the lodge room.
The share holdings in the Hall Association reached 1,702 with a value of $42,550.00 by the end of 1959. The trustees reported other holdings to be G Bonds $21,000.00, K Bonds $16,000.00, H Bonds $15,500.00, Treasury 4% $5,000.00, Treasury 3% % $3,000.00 and $5,607.28 in the Mt. Lebanon Federal Savings and Loan Association.
The membership dropped from 1,192 to 1,179 by the end of the year. There were 30 deaths during the year, 6 resigned and 8 were suspended. Two were admitted and 29 initiated.
A committee appointed at the October meeting, 1959, to investigate the need of a second DeMolay chapter in the South Hills, recommended it at the April 1960 stated meeting. But the Worshipful Master announced that no action could be taken by this lodge until a report has been received from the District Deputy Grand Master. Therefore the committee report was received and the committee dismissed from further service.
The District Deputy Grand Master advised the lodge at the May 1960 stated meeting that he approved of the transfer of Templar Chapter, Order of DeMolay to the Brentwood-Whitehall area and that Dormont Lodge with Monongahela Lodge No. 269 and Pleasant Hills Lodge No. 759 act as co-sponsors. Whereupon this lodge voted $500.00 for the setting up of this chapter.
Only one more share was added to the holdings in the Hall Association stock making the total 1,703 at a value of $42,575.00. The lodge held G Bonds $12,500.00; H Bonds $18,500.00; K Bonds $16,000.00; Treasury 4% $5,000.00; Treasury 3% % $3,000.00; Mt. Lebanon Federal Savings and Loan Association $7,839.50 and West End Federal Savings and Loan Association $8,510.00.
The membership dropped to 1,171 by the end of the year. There were 28 deaths, 28 initiated, one admitted, 6 resigned and 8 suspended.
The giving of aprons to all Past Masters was begun at the June 1961 stated meeting which was Past Masters’ night. All living Past Masters were given aprons and the practice has been continued.
To stimulate attendance at the opening of fall stated meetings, the master initiated the fellowship dinner in September. It accomplished its purpose. There were 198 at the dinner and 225 attended the stated meeting. The November stated meeting was devoted to a farewell for Edward E. Johnson who had completed his service as District Deputy Grand Master. Three District Deputy Grand Masters from other districts attended. Brother Johnson is a member of Dormont Lodge.
By the end of 1961, the membership dropped to 1,159. Six were admitted during the year, 25 initiated, 7 resigned, 14 were suspended and there were 22 deaths.
The securities of the lodge at the end of 1961 amounted to $121,871.12. The distribution of the funds were about the same as at the end of 1960.
The new district Deputy Grand Master Ralph D. Horsman honored the lodge with a visit at the February, 1962 stated meeting.
Several District Deputy Grand Masters were present at the June stated meeting. Past Grand Master Albert T. Eyler was the speaker of the evening, giving some interesting views on Masonry.
The second fellowship dinner was held in September with an excellent attendance. Rev. K. W. McCracken, pastor of the Second Presbyterian church in Carlysle, spoke on “Your Place in the Lodge”. Rev. McCracken is a member of Dormont Lodge
Several decisions by the right worshipful grand master were read at the November stated meeting. First of these provided that lodges may sponsor dinners and entertainments not held in lodge rooms, to which ladies and families may be invited. However, no lodge funds may be used for such guests. Lodge funds may be used for members provided the event has the approval of the district deputy grand master.
Another provided that a member seeking change of his name, must provide the lodge with a court decree and records setting forth the reason. In this event a majority vote is necessary to change the lodge records.
Still another forbids any member from taking any part in the work, either ritualistic or otherwise of the Order of Rainbow Girls or the Order of Job’s Daughters. Neither are they to accept the degree known as the Grand Cross of Color.
The District Deputy Grand Master was instructed not to permit the installation of any elected lodge officer not qualified and competent to perform the duties of the office to which he had been elected.
The Dead Sea Scrolls was the discussion by Rev. W. C. Trevor at the February 1963 stated meeting. This was a very enlightening presentation. The evening was also marked by an official visitation by District Deputy Grand Master Ralph Horsman.
Other subjects presented at stated meetings during the year, were: “Masonry and the Law”, “The Bible in Masonry” and Post Office and Pittsburgh Railways night.
Ladies’ Night was inaugurated at the November meeting. The ladies assembled in the Dormont Presbyterian Church where they were joined by the men when the lodge adjourned. An entertainment followed.
There were several father and son memberships during the year.
By the end of 1963, the securities of the lodge had increased to $125,472.82 which included among other items, the following: H Bonds $39,500.00, K Bonds $16,000.00, Treasury 4% $5,000.00, Treasury 314 % $3,000.00, 1,707 shares of South Hills Masonic Hall stock $42,675.00.
The membership declined again by the end of 1963 to 1,129. Two were admitted, 22 initiated, 2 suspended, 3 resigned and there were 30 deaths during the year.
A decision was read at the 1964 April meeting from the right worshipful grand master, permitting members of lodges to attend meetings and functions of the Order of Rainbow Girls and Job’s Daughters whether closed or open.
Erwin D. Conley who during the previous year, had been named chairman of the fiftieth anniversary celebration, resigned at the May stated meeting. The worshipful master appointed Frederick W. Heckler and James D. Ferguson as co-chairmen. So, the program development continued on under their joint direction.
William H. Bedford who had served on the sick committee for a number of years, died July 1, 1964. He had served diligently, religiously making calls on all who had been reported sick and the shut-ins.
A resolution on the passing of Brother Bedford, setting forth the dedication of this member to other members of the lodge, was prepared and presented to his widow.
Robert L. Bosserman who had been installed junior warden at the December 1963 stated meeting, died January 18, 1964, it was announced at the February meeting, Brother Bosserman had worked hard in the lodge and would have been worshipful master during the 50th anniversary celebration.
A special election was held at the March meeting to select a Junior Warden to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Brother Bosserman. Donald W. Fox was elected.
Benjamin Poole, a warrant member who had worked the floor and was the original tyler, died in the Masonic Homes at Elizabethtown. He had been accepted by the Homes less than a year before.
The by-laws were brought up to date at the May meeting. There had been no revision since 1957. The gift of 12 shares of stock from the estate of Past Master Arthur L. Miller was noted.
Former Past Masters were taken to dinner by the Master and officers before the June 1965 stated meeting. During the meeting, the Master announced Past Masters were to be given plastic envelopes to preserve their aprons between meetings.
John V. Rumble resigned as Junior Warden. He moved to North Carolina. James C. Bauman was appointed acting Junior Warden.
A decision was made to send money not spent for flowers in the event of death to the Masonic Homes in Elizabethtown.
The new South Hills School of instruction was started in 1965. This will make it more convenient for the members of the committee on instruction.
The jewel of Past Master Arthur L. Miller was presented for the archives by Benjamin Barker who was handling the affairs.
Harry A. Batchelor was appointed to the sick committee to carry on the work of Brother Bedford. Ivor C. Thomas was later appointed to this committee.
The death of two Past Masters occurred during this year, that of Edward A. Haas, Past Master and former Secretary and Henry Klinzing, Past Master and former District Deputy Grand Master.
The securities of the lodge dropped back to $127,681.65 by the end of 1965. The record shows that one share of stock in the South Hills Masonic Hall Association had been added.
The membership by the end of the year, declined to 1,117. There were 30 deaths during the year, 18 initiated, 1 restored to membership, 4 admitted, 1 suspended and 4 resignations.