History of Chehalis Masonic Lodge #28

Much of the following information was extracted from a 100th anniversary book of Lodge #28

In 1873 and 1874, when the Northern Pacific railroad put a line from Kalama to Tacoma, the village of Saundersville began.  The first school in Saundersville  was upstairs, above the courthouse in the northeast corner of North Street, west of the railroad tracks.  In 1876, the County Commissioners gave notice to the school board to find other quarters.  The board then built a one room school house between Prindle and Center Streets west of State Street.  On the 13th day of February, 1878, this school room became the first of many homes for the Chehalis Lodge No. 28, Free and Accepted Masons.

On that day, 13 Master Masons of Lewis County, Washington Territory met by previous appointment in the school house at Saundersville, there being no Lodge Hall in town.  These men drew up and signed a petition asking the Grand Master of Washington Territory for a dispensation authorizing them to work as a Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons.  On February 25, 1878, Grand Master Robert Crosby Hill issued that dispensation to Horatio J. Duffy and 12 others authorizing them to work as a Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons until the Grand Lodge met in June.  The 13 brethern who filed their demits with the Grand Secretary were: Michael Buchanan, Robert M. Berry, James T. Berry, William Champ, John D. Clinger, William G. Call, Horatio J. Duffy. Thomas Becock. William C. Long, William F. Miles, Salem Plant, John Shelton and John Stevens.

The Lodge, made up of these original 13 men, worked under dispensation until June, 1878.  On June 6th of that year, the Grand Lodge met in Olympia, examined and approved their work.  A charter was issued authorizing them to continue to work as Chehalis Lodge No. 28 with Horatio J. Duffy as Master; W.H. Long as Senior Warden and W.F. Miles as Junior Warden.

At that time this lodge was the only one between Vancouver and Olympia.

After six years, the lodge pursued their Masonic work in a room rented from Brother W.H. Long.  This second meeting hall was well furnished with a good desk containing their jewels, books, and records.  The membership had grown to forty-two Master Masons, one Fellowcraft and one Entered Apprentice.  Two members had passed away, John D. Clinger and John Urquhart.  There had been no suspensions, or expulsions or trials.  Peace and harmony prevailed until 1884.

On March 21, 1884, around midnight, a fire destroyed the Lodge room, furniture, jewels, records, and charter.  On April 11, 1884, as a result of this fire, a dispensation was issued by Levi Ankeny. Grand Master of Washington Territory, authorizing Chehalis Lodge to continue to work until the meeting of the Grand Lodge in June.

On May 8, 1884, Chehalis Lodge met in Tullis Hall at the usual hour and opened in the third degree in due form.  Aprons were provided by Mrs. John H. Long, Mrs. Alida Berry, and Mrs. Pearly O. Pulsifer.   Brother Pulsifer furbished the materials for and made a suitable and nicely finished altar.  Officers present were: John Shelton, W.M.,  John T. Newland, S.W., Eugene B. Moore, J.W.,  James T. Berry, Sec., Peasrly O. Pulsifer S.D.,  George A. Gregg, J.D.,  William F. Miles, S.S.,  Thomas M. Pearson, acting Treasurer, Robert M. Berry, acting Tyler.  Other members present at this meeting were:  John N. Koontz, (stepson of John R. Jackson who homesteaded Jackson Prairie in 1884), J.B. Long, Samuel Wehring and Salem Plant.

The business of replacing some of the lodge's possessions was the order of the evening.  Warrants were authorized for the purchase of record and receipt books and for the repair of the lodge seal.  A warrant fro $7.00 was approved to purchase 11 spittoons.  Lodge furniture and jewels  were purchased for $120.00 and Grand Lodge dues were paid through May 1, 1884.

Shortly after the fire,  W.H. Long erected a new and larger frame building on the site of the old one.  A Lodge room was provided but was leased to the Independent Order of Oddfellows.  The I.O.O.F. offered to share the Lodge room for $50.00 a year, but the offer was not accepted, the rental being considered too high.  A second offer of $30.00 per year with furnishings and free coal oil for lighting was accepted and the room was occupied in October 1884.

The Lodge was composed largely of farmers prior to this time.  They prided themselves on their integrity.  The brethren would not tolerate dishonesty and the avoidance of debts was almost unknown among them.  One member was tried and suspended because he had borrowed three hundred dollars from two brother members and had neglected to pay it back when the loan came due.

The period from 1888 to 1892 was one of great trial to the Lodge.  It was a time of agitation over the liquor question and was also a period of rapid development in Chehalis.  This resulted in the virtual transfer of almost the entire business district from its center surrounding the railroad tracks and Main Street to a location a half mile to the north on Market Street.  The minutes of the Lodge are filled with trial for drunkenness and dissipation and there were numerous suspensions and expulsions.  The old timers did not look upon drunkenness as an unpardonable sin and the lodge's action was bitterly resented and much recrimination was indulged in during this period.

A newly formed land company offered a donation of a fifty foot frontage on Market Street to the Lodge.  The choice of the spot as left up to the lodge members.  This was a cause for even more dissention between members living in the old town and those in the new part.  The result was a free site being offered by the residents of the old town.  The situation was so unfortunate that the Lodge finally appointed a committee to reconcile the discord among the members.  By 1893, the committee reported a re-establishment of amicable relations and harmony among the members.

During this period of time, the Lodge lost two of it's charter members.  There was a special meeting on May 31, 1891, to pay last respects to Brother James T. Berry.  Berry had been Secretary of the Lodge since its formation.  W.H. Long, also a charter member and Treasurer from the beginning, died in February, 1892.

Prior to the death of W.H. Long and yet another move, the question of buying grounds for a Masonic Cemetery had been discussed.  The Lodge did not have excessive funds for this purpose.   Brother Long assumed the responsibility of financing and purchases of an eleven-acre tract just outside the city limits on Pacific Highway for the cemetery.   This cemetery is now owned by John Panesko an estate lawyer of Chehalis and is still known as the Chehalis Greenwood Masonic Cemetery & is located on the hill just north of the intersection of South Market Boulevard & Bishop Rd.  Under John's supervision/guidance this old rundown cemetery has been revived.  The roster of cemetery inhabitants can be found by clicking onto this LINK.

After Long's death, the lodge again found itself without a hall.  In May, 1892, the brethren made a three-year lease with the A.O.U.W. lodge on Market Street for a monthly rental of five dollars.   The Lodge also purchased two lots on upper Market Street for five hundred sixty dollars.  The Albers Apartments were later constructed on this site.

Hard times broke out in 1892 with quick and telling severity.  With the obligations incurred in connection with the purchase of the lots on Market Street, the assessments for planking the street which followed, and the cemetery debt, the Lodge found itself financially embarrassed.  It was during these hard times that Brother Long, the Patron Saint of the cemetery, died, adding to their grief.  The situation became acute enough that the standing reputation of the Lodge was about to become a serious question.  In November, 1895, a resolution was passed committing the Lodge to the payment of it's debts including those of the Masonic Cemetery.  The panic passed and the improving conditions found the Lodge restored to good financial condition.  A settlement was made with the Long estate, through which the Lodge took over the cemetery and the Market Street property for fifteen hundred eighty dollars and seventy five cents.  It took several years to settle all claims due to the panic.  In 1897, when N.B. Coffman was Master of the Lodge he was able to report a complete and satisfactory settlement and received a vote of thanks from the lodge for his services.

In 1895, the three-year lease with he A.O.U.W. was about to expire and the Lodge found itself in search of yet another new quarters.  The newly organized Woodmen of the World had overbid them for a joint occupancy with the A.O.U.W.   A new home was found in the Frank Burnett building on Boistfort Street, with an entrance through the stairway in the Burnett Block.  These quarters were used for eight years.

In 1903, the Lodge moved again.  Charles W. Long's  building on Chehalis Avenue had recently been vacated and offered a good location.  The Lodge took a twenty five year lease and an option to terminate after any five year period.  Brother Coffman was on the committee for obtaining the lease, fitting up the room and buying furniture.  When the rooms were opened on December  3, 1903, they were regarded as complete in equipment and as attractive in furnishings as any Lodge in the state.  The opening was a great event and was attended by the M.W. Grand Master. Charles D. Atkins and M.W. Grand Secretary, Thomas M. Reed. Judge H.S. Elliot acted as toastmaster.

Even during during the opening ceremonies of this newest hall, the question of a permanent Masonic home was being considered.  The first location owned was that on upper Market Street.  The panic of 1892 prevented plans for building at that place.  In 1915 the Lodge purchased a lot on lower  Chehalis Avenue for three thousand dollars.  The Masonic Temple Association was incorporated in 1916 and took over  the title to this property.  A committee was appointed to look into other possible building sites, but any further progress was interrupted by the First World War and the financial stringencies of 1920.  It wasn't  until 1931 that a suitable building site was found.

In 1931, an exchange was made of the Chehalis Avenue property for Lots 13 & 14 in Block E of the Main Street  Addition.  On February 10, 1932 the lodge gave the Masonic Temple Association instructions to proceed with the building of the present temple. 

On Saturday, June 25. the cornerstone was laid for this new Masonic Temple by the Grand Lodge Officers in accordance with the ancient ceremonies.  The Lodge held its first meeting in the new building on October 26, 1932

From the archives we find that this recently completed lodge building represents an investment of $15,000.  It is a building of brick veneer, the front being a replica of Independence Hall at Philadelphia.  The main portion of the first floor is devoted to a commodious dining room with a small stage.  The lodge room occupies the bulk of the upper floor.   We are indebted  to brother James P. Porter a 32nd degree member of this flourishing lodge with this very interesting description of the lodge.

On March 28, 1936 William Millard of the Washington Supreme Court and Olympia Lodge No. 1 gave a lecture on personal service.  On October 14, 1942 Governor Arthur B. Langlie spoke on National Problems, also Grand Orator Harry Neal and Thomas Richards, Grand Lodge District Deputy along with several Past Masters from Lewis County Lodges.

According to the minutes of the December 27, 1943 there were at least fifteen members serving in the Armed Forces.  Several more followed later.

In 1943 W.M. Tremayne Flagg raised Haskell Johns in Chehalis Lodge No. 28 to Master Mason.  Later Bro Johns became Grand Master of Free and Accepted Masons of Washington.

On December 1, 1950 at a District 17 convention in Chehalis Lodge, there were 250 Masons present.  It was declared the largest number present at any district convention in the state at that time.

In the 1950's The Washington State Patrol Degree Team put on the 3rd degree at least three different times for the Chehalis Lodge #28.  About this same time a Canadian Degree Team from Victoria B.C. visited and put on the 3rd degree also.

The 75th year lodge anniversary was held in  1953 with W.M. Donald C. Plotz as Master, Arthur S. Cory S.W.,  Neil Kelly J.W., Philip E. Cameron Jr. S.D., James L. Clements J.D.,  W.B. Henry E. Vilwock Secretary, W.B. Albert P. Brown Treasurer,  Harry O. Cambridge Chaplin, and  William E. Ridener J.S.   There was also a Past Masters night and 21 of these Past Masters were present.  Those being; A. Earl Pollom, J.B. Killbourne, Harry H. Swofford, John W. Boone, Pontius Ishler, Arthur E. Conlee, C. Burwell Bantz, H. Summers Bennett, Donald C. Plotz, Arvo W. Kajia, Robert Flechtner, Edward Thompson, Loyal E. Dybvig, L. Roscoe Mitten, Kenneth E. Chase, Ted E. Bartlett. Lee J. Campbell, William Seidlitz, John A. Higgins, C.Loyal Rogers and A. Tremayne Flagg.

In 1953 or 54 the dining hall was repainted by the Masonic brothers & the OES ladies made the curtains.

June 5, 1957 Brother Arthur S. Cory presented the lodge with a gavel that he had obtained in Palistine from King Soloman's Quarry, supplemented by a talk on quarries.  If any brother has information on this gavel please CLICK HERE

Documentation shows that  October 23, 1957 was a presentation of six 50 year membership pins.  This included J.W. Alexander, Harry Swofford. Willie Hereford, William J. Adamson, Arthur S. Cory and William Seiditz.

Adequate parking became a problem, hence in 1958 a lot was purchased across the street from the temple.  The dwelling house was torn down and the lot paved.   A second adjoining lot was acquired with a dwelling which was rented out for a while but later sold and the funds were used to improve the temple.

The junior Achievement Program was initiated in this area in April of 1967.  Local High School Juniors were asked to write essays about themselves, telling of their participation in school leadership activities, and also their future plans.  These essays were screened by a lodge committee and judged by content as well as sentence construction and composition.  Emphasis was also placed on community service.  These awards were made in the form of scholarships and given to the representative schools to be given out at the recipients Senior graduation.  This program has continued each year since it's inception with the scholarships currently being $200 each.

There is a meeting honoring these Juniors in the area and awards made, a prominent speaker provides an interesting and worthwhile evening with refreshments afterwards.   Currently (2007) the High Schools participating in this program are Chehalis, Adna, Napavine, and Pe Ell represent the areas served by the Chehalis lodge.

In 1968 the lodge room was carpeted along with other improvements.  The Kitchen was remodeled in 1972 and wooden exterior parts of the building were painted as well.  The brickwork mortar was tuck pointed then also.

The Temple was further improved by gifts, and several memorials were presented.  One was a Reader Board in memory of Warren T. Lashbrook.   His wife Freda donated the dining room lights and those lights in the entrance area as well in 1973.

The original coal stoker was eventually replaced by a natural gas furnace.  In 1976 after rewiring, electric heat was installed in some areas.

An elevator fund was was established March 4, 1976 by Myrtle Moir in memory of her husband B. Harry G. Moir.   As of 1978 the fund had grown to well over $2,500.00.  Gifts were accepted for this fund at all times.

The officers of the Order of Eastern Star No. 3 installed microphones at the main stations during 1977, -- a big help for those with impaired hearing.

The years nearing 1987 for Pe Ell Lodge #157 F. & A.M. were bleak in that membership had declined, mostly by death, & filling the chairs even with re-runs was hard, the lodge was near collapse.  It therefore affiliated with Chehalis lodge #28 on October 10, 1987 A.D. with all it's assets being transferred to the Chehalis lodge. 

After the old Pe Ell temple was sold, some of the monies were used to do a much needed re-roofing job to the Chehalis temple.  The balance was invested in CDs by the Temple Board, which slowly was consumed for normal operations of the temple, running out in 2005 since there was little income to the lodge during that time.

2003 saw the lodge with a 125th anniversary.  W.B. Harry Estep was Master this year.

Midsummer of 2006 saw Chehalis Lodge No. 28 take the ball & run with it promoting a Child-Hood Identification Program, (CHIP).  In this endeavor, we teamed up with the Lewis County Sheriff's Reserve & Centralia Police Dept. (who were already doing a program near ours) This is a program whereby data taken from children (even older adults with Alzheimer's etc.) can be given to law enforcement is the child or person becomes missing.  The program involves taking a dental bite, finger prints, DNA saliva swab, & a DVD of the person answering pertinent questions that if put out on an Amber Alert could result in speedy recovery of that person.  We keep no data, as it is all given to the parent when we complete the collection.

This program is free to those who it is performed on, (however donations are gladly accepted).  Funds were donated by community businesses for the acquisition of the 3 special small DVD cameras & other equipment needed.  In the first 18 months we have done near 3500 children in Lewis County alone.  We have perfected it at a reasonable cost.  Chehalis Lodge is the fore-runner in Washington State for this program with V.W.B. Ian Ricker being the spark plug of this worthy undertaking.

Late winter/early spring of 2007 the lodge building's east wall was weakened by heavy rain & then freezing weather & about 1/3 of it separated from the sheathing & fell to the ground.  It took a few months to get it repaired.  The repair cost was covered by our building's insurance.

May 23, 2007 the lodge presented longevity award pins honoring 10 of our members ranging from 25 to 60 years of service.

During the summer of 2007, the dining & kitchen areas were repainted, new curtains & spotlights for the stage by members & spouses.   The building is now open for renting out for meetings, weddings etc.

2007 also saw Chehalis Lodge No. 28 moving into the computer age with a website established by W.B. LeeRoy Wisner & also with W.B. James Wisner as Secretary maintaining the records on a lap-top computer and being able to communicate with Grand Lodge electronically.

In 2008 the lodge celebrated it's 130th anniversary by having a dinner, inviting the local newspaper which wrote a article about the lodge's history.

2009 saw the front of the building's wood, window frames & entrance repainted.  Also the new treasurer W.B. LeeRoy Wisner carry on & improving the recording the treasurers reports on computer to simplify the mandatory yearly audit.   The Kitchen table was remodeled by W. B. James Wisner & the top was recovered with a Formica covering that was donated by V.W.B. Charlie Shafer.    JC Tibbits did extensive remodeling of the upstairs restroom & made it into a unisex facility to the delight of the ladies.  A section of the basement was cleaned out to make room for a spare / overflow  refrigerator.  The Past Masters photo gallery's individual photos were scanned for the purpose of creating a ongoing website page, & was also updated with another large accumulated wall photo carrying on the tradition of honoring our Past Masters. 

2013 saw the old front door lock replaced with a keypad type lock.

2015 some of the members cut the concrete step out at the front entrance door making a ramp, & remodeling of the entry way into the dining area to provide a ramp to facilitate those who are wheelchair bound.

Feb. of 2016 saw one of the three furnaces repaired.   September a new roof installed on the lodge building.

2017 saw volunteers doing tuck-pointing of the brick, starting on the south end of the building.

2018 the lodge of sorrow was opened as our new Master passed away early in his term due to medical issue.


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Originated 10-28-2007, Revised 03-14-2019







The cornerstone for the present building was laid by the Grand Lodge Officers on June 8, 1932 A.D.???