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Lodge History

Early Planning

On or before April 22, 1919, Brother Frank M. Torrence talked to Brother David F. Kapp, who was a cashier at the First National Bank (now Mellon Bank) on West College Avenue, relative to the John Stuart property on East College Avenue. The conversation drifted to Freemasonry and to the possible use of this property as a Masonic Temple. At that time it was necessary for petitioners to Freemasonry to join Old Fort Lodge #537, located in Centre Hall, or Bellefonte Lodge #268, located in Bellefonte. Apparently the above conversation was the necessary incentive for Brother Frank M. Torrence to begin the arduous task of securing a favorable petition to constitute a Masonic Lodge in State College, Pennsylvania.

Brother James B. Krouse, Right Worshipful Grand Master of Free and Accepted Masons in Pennsylvania lived in Williamsport, PA and was known by Brother Lloyd W. Stover, P.M., Old Fort Lodge #537. Brother Torrence wrote to Brother Stover (Millheim, PA) asking for a letter of introduction to Brother Krouse. Brother Stover replied favorably to this letter on April 24, 1919.

After another talk with Brother Kapp on April 25, 1919 regarding a Masonic Temple and a possible visit with Brother Krouse, R.W.G.M., Brother Torrence wrote Brother Krouse, R.W.G.M. on April 26, 1919 asking for an appointment for an interview. As there was no reply to this letter, Brother Torrence wrote Brother Krouse, R.W.G.M., again on May 20, i 9i 9 and reiterated his desire for an appointment. On May 22, 1919, a reply from Brother Krouse, R.W.G.M., was received, including a reply to Brother Torrence's letter of April 26, 1919 which apparently had been incorrectly addressed to some unknown name and consequently returned to the writer.

On May 26, 1919, Brother Torrence telephoned Brother Krouse, R.W.G.M. and arranged a meeting on May 27, 1919 in Williamsport, PA. Accompanying Brother Torrence to this meeting were Brothers Harold E. Shattuck, Ray I. Webber and Lloyd W. Stover, W.M. of Old Fort Lodge #537. This meeting discussed the possibility of forming a Masonic Lodge in State College, PA. Brother Krouse, R.W.G.M. was enthusiastic about a Masonic Lodge in State College, PA.

On June 3, 1919, the first planning meeting was held and from that time to the present, minutes have been kept for every meeting.

Brother W. Harrison Walker, D.D.G.M., and a member of Bellefonte Lodge #268, questioned Brother Torrence on June 9, i 919 at an Old Fort Lodge #537 meeting regarding rumors he had heard regarding an attempt to organize a Masonic Lodge in State College, PA. Eventually W. Harrison Walker, D.D.G.M., agreed to help sponsor a petition to the Grand Lodge for a Masonic Lodge in State College (see Appendix A).

Brothers D. F. Kapp, R.I. Webber, H. B. Shattuck, E. A. Fessenden, W. G. Murtorff and F. M. Torrence met in the First National Bank Boardroom on August 26, 1919. The meeting was called to consider the development of plans and reports of committees appointed at the June 3, 1919 meeting for the organization of a Masonic Lodge and for the erection of a Masonic Temple at State College, PA. Brother F. M. Torrence reported on behalf of the building committee and submitted plans for a new Masonic Building. Brother R. I. Webber reported that members of the Acacia Fraternity were interested in the project if quarters could be secured at reasonable rent in a proper building. They were, however, not interested in quarters in a business block. Brother F. M. Torrence reported that a pamphlet had been prepared by Brother W. S. Dye, Jr. to be sent to the State College Masonic brethren. Brother D. F. Kapp reported that the finance committee had been unable to present definite plans. It was properly moved and seconded that a meeting be called of all Masons in State College on August 29, 19i 9. The last item of business involved the recommendation that the entrance fee be made $25; $5 to be paid on signing the petition, $10 when the petition is approved by Grand Lodge, and $10 when the Lodge was organized.

The August 29, 1919 meeting of State College Masons was held at the Acacia Fraternity. Thirty-nine Masons attended this meeting. A list of those attending this meeting is shown in Appendix B. After the object of this meeting was stated, Brother F. M. Torrence, Chairman, briefly reviewed details concerning previous meetings regarding the establishment of a Masonic Lodge in State College, PA. This summary also included the results of a meeting with Brother James B. Krouse, R.W.G.M., in Williamsport, PA. Reference was also made to the June 3, 1919 and the August 26, 19i 9 meetings. F. M. Torrence, Chairman, then stated the facts regarding the building of a Masonic Temple in State College, PA. Brother D. F. Kapp then gave the projected financial plans for the building and site, saying it would probably cost $60,000 to $65,000. Part of the necessary funds to be secured by a bond issue and part by a non-voting stock issue. Brother D. F. Kapp also suggested that it might be possible to secure $15,000 to $20,000 in donations.

Various questions were then raised, particularly regarding District Deputy Grand Master W. Harrison Walker's opinion of (1) stock issue or bond issue to fund the projected Masonic Temple; he favored the stock issue; (2) absence of Brother W. Harrison Walker at the current meeting; he found it impossible to attend but that he had been told of all plans; (3) opinion of Brother W. H. Walker regarding a place of meeting; he said it would be possible to use the present IOOF Hall with certain modifications; and (4) Brother W. H. Walker had asked if the committee would secure 50 charter members who would put in $300 each; the answer was no. He then asked if it would be possible to secure 50 who would pay $100 each. Again, the answer was no. Brother W. H. Walker then asked "How much?" The answer was that nobody knew what the possible initial donation/payment would produce. One final question asked by Brother W. H. Walker involved the possibility of being able to equip a Lodge; the answer was yes. Blank forms prepared by Brother W. H. Walker, D.D.G.M., for projected charter members to sign were passed for signature after being read to the Masons present.

At the same meeting questions were raised concerning (1) the necessity of members withdrawing from lodges before signing the charter petition; (2) assurance that a warrant will be issued: the answer was no. ; (3) is there sufficient population in State College to support a Masonic Lodge; the answer was "yes and no"; (4) approval of the August 25, 1919 recommendation on charter membership fee; (5) the advisability of having a representative go to Philadelphia for the September 3, 1919 Quarterly Communication and brief the current R.W.G.M. and the R.W.D.G.M. who would be elected R.W.G.M. in December. Brother F. M. Torrence was authorized to go and to procure all possible information.

Other items of minor interest were discussed before it was moved, seconded and approved that the former committee of Brothers Kapp, Shattuck, Webber, Fessenden, Kinsloe, Torrence, Holler, Gilliland and Murtorff be made a permanent committee to further the project. The permanent committee was instructed to go ahead with the project as rapidly as possible. In the process of attaining charter members, there should be no attempt to over-urge Masons who had strong personal connections to their home lodges to resign and become a charter member in the projected State College Masonic Lodge.

A letter was addressed to Brother W. Harrison Walker, D.D.G.M., on September 19, 1919 forwarding floor plans and information relative to the proposed use of the IOOF Hall for Lodge meetings. Also, interested Masons in State College signed an agreement as follows;

"We the undersigned, hereby signify our desire for the establishment of a lodge of Free and Accepted Masons in State College, PA, and covenant with each other to become charter member of such a lodge if it is organized. We further agree to pay $5 upon signing this agreement, $10 upon signing the petition, and $10 when charter is granted."

Masons from the following Lodges and Jurisdictions have signed this agreement:

  • Bellefonte Lodge #268: 8
  • Old Fort Lodge #537: 20
  • PA Jurisdiction: 12
  • Missouri Jurisdiction: 2
  • Iowa Jurisdiction: 1
  • Vermont Jurisdiction: 1
  • Maryland Jurisdiction: 1
  • Michigan Jurisdiction: 2
  • Ohio Jurisdiction: 1
  • Kentucky Jurisdiction: 1
  • New York Jurisdiction: 1
  • New Jersey Jurisdiction: 1
  • Indiana Jurisdiction: 2
  • Total: 50

Paraphernalia and equipment can be secured, choosing judiciously between 1st and 2nd grade, from William Lehmberg, Philadelphia, PA. Providing everything is bought there, the total cost will be $517. This sum, together with $200 for a warrant would be $717. Counting on the above listed 50 charter members would give the proposed lodge $1,250. Rent will be about $100 per year and possibly as low as $80 per year.

The permanent committee, previously appointed, recommends that the initiation fee be $70, $20 of which will go to the Grand Lodge, and that dues be $6 or $7, $2 of which will be Grand Lodge dues. It should be possible to have at least $200 per year from dues. It is anticipated that there is abundant material in State College for petitions for initiation and membership. The degree of work at Old Fort and Bellefonte gave adequate evidence to this statement. The proposition of a Temple in State College will not be considered further at this time; nor until such time as seems wise and prudent. Efforts are to be concentrated as to the establishment of a Blue Lodge.

On October 12, 1919, another meeting of all Masons in State College was held at the Acacia Fraternity. Forty-two masons were in attendance as per Appendix C.

The following items were addressed at this meeting:

  1. Brother F. M. Torrence, Chairman, made a report on his visit to Philadelphia. The Right Worshipful Grand Master and all Grand Officers were very favorable to the establishment of a lodge in State College. Brother W. Harrison Walker, D.D.G.M., had inspected the IOOF hall and approved its use after certain modifications are made.
  2. Brother George T. Jackson made a report of his meeting with the Board of Directors of the IOOF Hall Association. Because of changes to be made to the room, the rent would be $125 for the first year and $1 00/year thereafter. The total rent covers use of the Lodge Room and the Club Room. Special meetings could be taken care of without extra cost to the lodge. Regular meetings would be on the 1st Wednesday of every month. It was regularly moved and seconded that a rent option on the IOOF Hall be obtained.
  3. The committee on By Laws gave its report. This report was for information purposes only. The By-Laws of the Lodge cannot be adopted until the lodge is constituted. This committee recommends that the fee for admission and membership be $70, $20 of this fee to be forwarded to the Grand Lodge.
  4. Brother F. M. Torrence, Chairman, read a letter from Brother W. Harrison Walker, D.D.G.M., in which he stated that is would be necessary for all petitioners to resign from their lodges before they could sign the petition for the warrant. There is no stated form of resignation, however, a form of resignation was read that would be satis factory. All dues must be paid when resignation is tendered.
  5. The following names were suggested as officers of the proposed lodge: Worshipful Master- Brother Frank M. Torrence Senior Warden- Brother William G. Murtorff Junior Warden - Brother Frederick P. Weaver It was regularly moved and seconded that the proposed names be adopted. A favorable ballot subsequently ensued.

A meeting of the signers of a petition for warrant of a lodge of Free and Accepted Masons was held on January 9, 1920 at the IOOF Hall. After the reading and approval of the minutes of the October 12, 1919 meeting, the matter of the meeting night for the proposed lodge was discussed. Brother F. M. Torrence, Chairman, noted that the Grand Lodge meetings were held in certain months on the 1st Wednesday; it would not be possible to hold the regular stated meetings of the proposed lodge on the 1st Wednesday of the month as had been offered. It was then moved and seconded that the regular Stated Meeting be held on the 3rd Wednesday of each month at 7:00 p.m. , This motion was amended to make the time of meetings 7:30 p.m.

A letter was read from Brother Edward J. K. Kunze requesting that the initiation fee be fixed at a sum not less than the sister lodges. It was then regularly moved and seconded that the initiation fee be fixed at $70, as discussed in the October 12, 1919 meeting, and annual dues be $7 per year.

Brother F. M. Torrence, Chairman, requested permission to buy a book with 400 pages for the Secretary's use. This request was granted. As a matter of information, it was noted that lodge paraphernalia was purchased at an approxi mate cost of $450.

The following items were presented for use by the new Lodge: (1) working tools by Brothers Harry J. Behrer and James C. Smith, (2) ballot box by Brother F. W. Hailer of Pittsburgh, PA, and (3) a marble ashlar by Brother Frank E. Mayes of Lemont, PA.

Brother F. M. Torrence, Chairman, read those sections from the Ahiman Rezon relative to the selection of officers: Masters and Wardens must be named in a petition for warrant. Trustees are not provided for by the Ahiman Rezon. It was regularly moved and seconded that the following lodge officers be elected in Masonic form: Treasurer, Secretary, 3 Trustees and a Representative in the Grand Lodge. The following were elected: Brother Ray D. Gilliland, Treasurer; Brother George Glenn, Secretary; Brother R. I. Weber, Brothers George B. Jackson, and David F. Kapp, Trustees; and Brother Harry B. Northrup, Representative in the Grand Lodge.

The following appointed officers were appointed: Brother H. B. Shattuck, Senior Deacon; Brother John T. Taylor, Junior Deacon; Brother C. G. McBride, Senior Master of Ceremonies; Brother Winifred W. Braman, Junior Master of Ceremonies; Brother Thomas I. Mairs, Chaplain; Brother W. Harrison Thompson, Tyler; Brother Harry J. Behrer, Pursuivant; and Brothers John J. Snyder and Frank P. Knoll, Stewards.

The matters of nominal interest included: (1) procure a suitable souvenir for the warranting of the lodge; (2) the new trustees being authorized to sign a lease agreement for the IOOF Hall; and (3) that the fee to accompany application for membership by initiation be paid in currency.

After January 9, 1920, correspondence between the Grand Lodge Secretary and Brother F. M. Torrence, Master Elect, involved the spelling of names of various individuals, the absence of certificates of resignation from various lodges and the need of having the warrant properly filled out before the lodge is constituted. A copy of this letter follows.

On January 12, 1920, a telegram was sent from the Grand Secretary's Office informing F. M. Torrence, Master Elect, that the Grand Master would constitute State College Lodge No. 700, F. & A.M. on Wednesday, January 21, 1920. A follow-up letter on the same date contained the additional information that the ceremony would be at noon and that all signers of the petition are to be present otherwise they cannot be warrant members of the lodge.

A final meeting of the petitioners for the lodge of Free and Accepted Masons at State College, PA was held at the IOOF Hall on January 17, 1920. This meeting was presided over by the Worshipful Master Elect, Brother Frank M. Torrence. One object of this meeting was to acquaint the petitioners with the arrangements for the installation. Brother W. Harrison Walker, D.D.G.M., had requested that the members furnish cars to transport the Grand Officers from Bellefonte to State College. Also, it was important that all members sign your name in full on all Masonic papers.

Other items of importance discussed were: (1) arrangements had been made to serve a lunch at the University Club; (2) a committee was formed to see that strangers coming late could get a meal; (3) a canvas was to be made among members of the possibility of entertaining visitors overnight; (4) all minutes, letters and records relative to the information of the lodge be made permanent records; (5) the possibility of utilizing the basement of the IOOF Hall for the accommodation of visitors and checking of coats, etc. was delegated to a small committee; and (6) it was urged that all members be on time.

Finally the installation ceremony of a Lodge of Masons was rehearsed after a lodge was called and officered.

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