A BRIEF HISTORY OF PASADENA LODGE #272, F. & A. M.
The City of Pasadena isn’t here by mere happenstance, it was a planned community. But like most plans that are made from afar, it didn’t quite work as envisioned. The Indiana Colony, headed by Dr. Elliot, wanted to buy some land and established a price of $5.00 an acre as their prescribed price. A Mason by the name of Judge Ben Eaton who owned the ‘Fair Oaks’ ranch aided the Indiana Colony in the purchase of property which later became Pasadena. Brother Eaton affiliated with Pasadena Lodge U.D. and became a Charter Member in 1884. He served the community as District Attorney and Tax Collector. This period of 1873-74 became a money panic period and many banks had to close. The final purchase of land was made from Dr. Griffin and Benjamin (Don Benito) Wilson who needed money to solve their financial problems. The land was subdivided and people soon began to arrive in Pasadena. The original population of 391 in 1880 grew to about 1200 in 1883. Among them were many Masons without a local lodge. On February 20, 1883, fourteen Masons met in Williams Hall, a social center in Pasadena, to take the preliminary steps toward establishing a Blue Lodge of Masons in Pasadena. Those attending were: Charles M. Skillen, J. B. Springer, Alfred Wakeley, Charles C. Brown, James Clarke, Clinton B. Ripley, R. Conkling, John F. Myrick, Wm. H. Wakeley, Harry Ridgeway, John J. Cammon, James Ripley, Isaac Heise, and Harvey Magee. These men were not only dedicated Masons, they were builders of the Community, in the true Masonic sense. We find their names associated with the founding of the library, banks, newspaper, water system, hospital, school system, and the incorporation and operation of the City of Pasadena. Following a number of meetings and under the guiding hands of the Los Angeles Lodge #42 and Pentalpha Lodge #202, Pasadena Lodge U.D. was granted a dispensation by the Grand Lodge of California on October 15, 1883. On October 16, 1884 they received their charter and became Pasadena Lodge #272.
The first officers of Pasadena Lodge U.D. were:
Clinton B. Ripley, Master
Harry Ridgeway, Senior Warden
Madison Rochefeller, Junior Warden
Alfred Wakeley, Treasurer
William Nosworthy, Secretary
James Clarke, Senior Deacon
John Myrick, Junior Deacon
G. Brown, Tiler
The bylaws of the Lodge were presented, adopted and signed by thirty-nine charter members. Although the organization meetings were held in Williams Hall, the first meetings of Pasadena Lodge U.D. were held in the Public Library in a room prepared for the purpose. It was not until the middle of 1884 that the Lodge moved to the Williams Hall, at the northwest corner of Fair Oaks and Colorado streets. Although Mr. Williams was not a Mason at the time he made a generous offer in the way of rental for his building. His application for the degrees was the first application read in Pasadena Lodge U.D. and he became the second candidate to be initiated. In 1892 the Lodge moved to the Stanton Building at Raymond and Colorado streets where it remained until it erected its own Temple at 73 N. Fair Oaks in 1904. Here it remained until the present Temple at 200 S. Euclid was built in 1926.
Three years after Pasadena Lodge U.D. was established there was a growing need to incorporate the town of Pasadena and to establish a city. Nearly all the members of the Lodge helped in some manner in the transition. Brothers Jabez Banbury, C. H. Conger, H. W. Magee, drafted the Article of Incorporation and Brother Banbury was one of the original trustees. The city was incorporated in 1886. The population in the area grew from 1,200 in 1883 to 4,882 in 1890. There were ranchers, businessmen and investors together with many wealthy property owners who just liked the climate. It soon became apparent to the Masons and their wives that Masonry as well as the city was growing with leaps and bounds in spite of the economic booms and busts and it was evident that additional lodges and affiliated bodies were needed. Their predictions were quite true and between 1884 and 1959 masonry virtually exploded in this area. Seven Blue Lodges received their charters, four Scottish Rite Bodies received their charters, all the York Rite Bodies of Pasadena were chartered, five chapters of the Eastern Star, five chapters of Job’s Daughters and three DeMolay bodies have made the Pasadena area a closely integrated Masonic community. At this same time other concordant bodies were also in operation such as the Beauceant, White Shrine and Amaranth.
The original bylaws of the Lodge called for the stated meeting to be held on the fourth Monday of each month. It also stipulated that if an applicant, elected to receive the degrees in the Lodge, did not come forward to be initiated within three months his fees would be forfeited unless the Lodge voted to give special dispensation. The fees for the degrees were fifty dollars for the three degrees and two dollars for affiliation. The dues were six dollars a year payable quarterly in advance. If any member was in arrears for his dues at the time of the election of officers he could not vote or be eligible to hold office. By 1885 the Lodge realized it could not operate on six dollars a year for dues, so an amendment was passed to raise the dues to nine dollars a year. At the same time to encourage more affiliates to join the Lodge affiliation fee was dropped. By 1886 the Lodge found these dues to be excessive and they were again reduced to six dollars a year. In September 1890 the bylaws were changed making the stated meeting the first Monday of each month and it remained there until December 1, 1991 when Pasadena Lodge #272 consolidated with Corona Lodge #324 and San Pasqual Lodge #452.
We note in the records that finances and fees were quite an issue even then in the Lodge but it was not until 1924 that they voted to raise the initiation fee to eighty dollars. Again in 1925 it was raised to one hundred and thirty dollars and the affiliation fee was placed at twenty five dollars. This was the beginning of the depression and these fees were again reduced in 1926 to eighty dollars for initiation and the affiliation fee was discontinued. This lasted for one year and in 1927 the initiation fees were raised to one hundred dollars but the depression won out and in 1932 the initiation fees were again reduced to seventy dollars. Dues did not change again until 1956 when they jumped to fifteen dollars a year. So you see the Masonic Lodge from the very beginning had to balance between membership and finances.
By the turn of the century Pasadena Lodge membership had risen to over two hundred and fifty members even with the addition of Corona Lodge #324 which was chartered in 1895. When we look at the names on the bylaws of the Lodge for the first twenty five years it reads like Who’s Who for the City of Pasadena. We note that Masons were an integral part of this area’s formation and operation including all parts of government, business and community activities. At our 25th anniversary in 1908, J. Herbert Hall was Master of the Lodge; during our 50th anniversary in 1933, Ralph T. Merriam was Master, during our 75th anniversary in 1958, Marvin R. Ives was Master and at the 100th anniversary in 1983, Gregory J, Gabriel was Master.
At the first meeting of Pasadena Lodge U.D. three applications for the degrees and one application for affiliation were read. These applications were accompanied with the fees of one hundred and fifty-two dollars which the first income of the Lodge. All other expenses up to this time having been covered by donations from the organizing members. At the second stated meeting on November 26, 1883, three men were elected to receive the degrees of Masonry and six Masons were elected to membership by affiliation. Several new applications were read at this meeting and the Lodge was off and running. A motion was passed to secure a loan for $200.00 to cover the initial expenses incurred in starting the Lodge. The first initiate to receive the Entered Apprentice Degree in Pasadena Lodge U.D. was Stanley D. Jewett on December 3, 1883. The Lodge was again convened on December 5th at which time Romayne Williams received his first degree and on December 10th Frank Green was initiated. So you see the Lodge wasted no time in getting the newly elected members started in Masonry. On March 17, 1884, Stanley K. Jewett was raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason (3rd degree) and became the first member to receive all three degrees in Pasadena Lodge U.D.
A proper lodge room was now being considered and after much discussion the Lodge approved at their stated meeting of March 24, 1884, a proposal from Brother Williams to furnish a space 24½ feet by 52 feet for the use of the Lodge for a rental of $200.00 per year for five years and an option of renewal for the next five years. They could also use the adjoining hall for the nominal cost of preparing it for use which included adding a water closet and putting on a finish coat of plaster. Many gifts were given to the Lodge to get it underway such as a Tiler’s sword from Brother N. W. Magee, a bible from Brother James Clarke and a hand crafted pedestal for the Lesser Lights but this could not be used until it was plumbed for gas as there was no electricity.
Some interesting expenses were noted in the minutes of the early Lodge meetings such as Fire insurance premium $7.50, insurance on furniture and jewels $3.50, Lodge rental before moving to the Williams Hall was $1.50 per night, oil for heating the lodge room $1.00 per night, Lodge seal $10.00, one hundred copies of the funeral dirge $3.50; in 1886 they purchased a carpet sweeper for $2.50 so the Tiler could keep the lodge room clean; and in 1887 they bought a painted canvas for the Middle Chamber lecture for $12.45, one dozen lamb skin aprons for $12.00 and an organ for the lodge room for $110.00. Times do change.
At the stated meeting in August, 1884 the Lodge voted to furnish a nurse for all the sick brethren and at the stated meeting in September the received their first bills for this service, one for $8.00 and one for $10.00. One of these bills was for a member from another Lodge and was referred to His Lodge but the other was paid for by donations of the Lodge members. The relief fund received its largest request on October of 1886 when they were billed for a funeral service for a deceased brother. The bill consisted of $45.00 for a coffin and case and $15.00 for the hearse. Because of the cost of furnishing aid to the sick and for funeral expenses for needy brethren it was adopted that the amount of $.25 per month should be set aside from the dues for the purpose of a welfare fund. This was the beginning of the Masonic Relief program.
At the stated meeting of September 22, 1884, the Lodge approved a petition to the Grand Lodge asking that Grand Lodge grant Pasadena Lodge U.D. a charter. The secretary was authorized to send this petition together with the necessary Lodge records to Grand Lodge as quickly as possible. Grand Lodge approved the petition and on October 27, 1884 Pasadena Lodge #272 was constituted. The constitutional ceremonies were presided over by Worshipful Charles W. Bush, Past Master of Pentalpha Lodge #202 who was acting on behalf of the Grand Master who was unable to attend. Worshipful Charles W. Bush then acted as the installing officer and officially installed the officers of Pasadena Lodge #272.
The January 1885 stated meeting was interesting as the Master informed the Lodge as to the amount of their indebtedness and stated that he had drawn up notes in the amount of $25 each to liquidate this indebtedness. He hoped the members would help him dispose of these notes to aid in making Pasadena Lodge solvent. It was also moved and duly passed that smoking would be prohibited in the Lodge room. Times haven’t changed since. The first degrees given after Pasadena Lodge received its charter were courtesy degrees given to Bro. Thomas Jefferson Compton of Abell Lodge #146 of Ukiah. Bro. Compton received his second degree on Jan 12, 1885 and his third degree on Jan 19th. The first degree conferred on one it ifs own members was on Albert Oliver Bristol on Feb. 2nd 1885 and the second on Feb. 16th and his third degree on March the 3rd. Bro. Frank Milo Green was the first member of Pasadena Lodge to pass to the Celestial Lodge above. His services were held June 7, 1884. The Lodge regularly opened in their Lodge room, then called off and the members proceeded to the home of the deceased thence to the cemetery where Masonic Services were conducted. After this the members returned to the Temple and adopted a resolution commending Bro. Green. A copy of the resolution was spread in the minutes, sent to the family of the deceased and published in the Pasadena Valley Union. Lodge was then closed.
By January of 1886 the Lodge decided that the secretary should be compensated for his labors and approved a salary of $30 per year for his services. One year later it was determined that the position of secretary had become so heavy and important to the Lodge that he was voted an honorarium in addition to his salary for the preceding year and his salary was raised to $8 per month.
It might be interesting to note that during these years the Odd Fellows, Knights of Columbus and the Masons all used the same hall. As the Masons had rented the hall from the owner, the other organizations all negotiated with the Masons.
The first Inspector or District Deputy as he was then called, was Bro. Woodbury. At his attendance at the June 1887 stated meeting he complimented the Lodge on the work it was doing and on the manner in which its books were kept. He also encouraged all sojourners who were carrying a dimit to become members of Pasadena Lodge, which he stated, was one of the ‘most prosperous in the State’.
The first Grand Lodge activity in Pasadena occurred on July 4th, 1887 when the Grand Lodge convened for the purpose of laying the cornerstone of the Pasadena Public Library. Brother Hiram Nathan Rucker was Grand Master and conducted the ceremonies.
New Lodge quarters were considered in April 1888 but rentals were too high and the present Lodge facilities were offered at the same price with the agreement that the Lodge install needed ventilation at their own expense. A full time janitor was hired in July 1889 for a huge sum of $75 per year. Previously the Tiler was expected to do the work.
The Lodge met in Williams Hall until Aug. 1, 1891 at which time Pasadena Lodge, the Commandery and the Chapter moved to the Stanton Building and jointly shared the expenses. It might be noted that during the occupation of Williams Hall no electric lights were available. All lighting including the Lesser Lights at the Altar were gas lights. When the Lodge moved into the Stanton Building in the Arcade in 1892 they had electric lights for the first time.
By the turn of the century, Masonry was very active in Pasadena. There were two Blue Lodges, Pasadena and Corona, the York Rite Bodies, Scottish Rite Bodies and many other Masonic affiliates were already very active.
At that time Masons in this area realized that larger quarters were needed and in 1904 their new Temple was completed on N. Fair Oaks Ave. and all the Masonic Bodies moved in.
Masonry grew rapidly in spite of World War One and the many transitions from war production to world trade and new prosperity was upon them. It again became evident that their Temple was totally inadequate and after careful study it was decided that a site at 200 S. Euclid Avenue should be purchased and a new Temple erected. At this same time the Scottish Rite Bodies erected their own temple at 150 N. Madison Avenue. This separation did not represent a cleavage; to the contrary, it represented an opportunity for each branch of the Craft to grow in harmony and service. In 1926 when they moved into the new temple Worshipful Charles H. Kelley graced the east of Pasadena Lodge and at the same time was serving the City of Pasadena as Chief of the Police Department.
During these formative years of the Lodge and the City of Pasadena many of the Members were active in both civic and fraternal affairs.
John Joslyn – P.M., 33rd degree Mason, City Prosecutor
William A. Allen – P.M., City Administrator
Charles H. Kelley – P.M., Chief of Police Dept. of Pasadena
Lawrence C. Lamb – P.M. of Mt. Wilson Lodge, Inspector, 33rd degree Mason, Ch. of the Inspector General’s Advisory Conference, Pres. Bd. of Education
Ralph T. Merriam – P.M., Grand Sr. Warden, 33rd degree Mason
William Heidner – P.M., Charter Master of Mt. Wilson Lodge, Grand Marshal, KCCH, Chief of Fire Dept., Pasadena
Plus many, many others too numerous to mention but just as active and vital to Masonry and the city.
In 1977 the Masons in Pasadena celebrated a memorable occasion. When the original Temple on N. Fair Oaks was built in 1904 a Grand Lodge cornerstone dedication ceremony took place. Many historic items were placed in the casket. When the new Temple on S. Euclid was built in 1926 a cornerstone dedication ceremony took place but the cornerstone of the original Temple was not removed or opened as it was part of the structure. In 1977 the old Temple was demolished and the cornerstone was removed and relocated in front of the present Temple. An additional stone was placed on its top and a rededication of Masonry in Pasadena took pace. The Most Worshipful Kermit A. Jacobson, Grand Master of Masons in California and Hawaii at that time and Past Master of Carmelita Lodge, presided over the Grand Lodge ceremonies.
We are proud of all the accomplishments of the Masonic family in this area. We look forward to the next 100 years as being as exciting and challenging as the past 125. May we all prosper and grow.
Since the 100th anniversary in 1983 the following Lodges have become part of Pasadena Lodge #272 through consolidation;
Corona #324, San Pasqual #452, America #475, Carmelita #599, Lamanda Park #627 & Arabic #763.