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Lodge History

Meeting Places for State College Lodge No. 700, F. & A. M., and the Events Leading to the Erection of the Masonic Temple

On December 27, 1919, the petition for a warrant for a Masonic Lodge at State College was unanimously approved. After the petition was approved, outgoing R.W.G.M., Brother James B. Krouse advised Brother Frank M. Torrence to leave the idea of erecting a Masonic Temple in the background and see that the lodge was given a good start.

Since the initial meeting took place in the IOOF Hall and a lease arrangement had been signed prior to January 21, 1920, the lodge continued to meet at this location. During the early years, it was necessary to hold special meetings during the afternoons. The IOOF Hall was the only lodge room in State College and numerous requests for use of the IOOF Hall resulted in a crowded calendar. Because of the use factor of the IOOF Hall, rent for this meeting place increased from $150 to $200 per year.

On January 21, 1931, the Lodge held its first meeting in the new lodge rooms on the second floor of the Nittany Realty building erected on the Southwest corner of Allen Street and Beaver Avenue. Furniture had to be purchased to furnish a proper lodge room and adjacent facilities. The cost of these items was $5,102.19. Rent for the new quarters was $1,200 per year.

Apparently, Brother Frank M. Torrence, P.M. did not forget his plan to build a Masonic Temple for State College Lodge No. 700, F. & A.M .. An example of this desire is given by a song sung by Brothers John Taylor, Harry Taylor, H. N. Koch and an unnamed tenor at a Masonic Feed on October 21, 1925. Of the 7 versus noted, the first verse follows:

"Oh Frank Torrence gets your money,
And everything else he can,
To build a Masonic Temple,
On the partial payment plan."

Brother Frank M. Torrence, P.M. was elected Secretary of the Lodge for 1925 and held this position until Arthur L. Haskins, P.M. was elected Secretary for 1943.

At a stated meeting the lodge on October 20, 1920, Brother Ray L. Schuyler, W.M., Lodge #199, Lock Haven, PA visited State College Lodge. Accompanying Brother Schuyler were 44 members from Lock Haven Lodge #199. The members of Lock Haven Lodge #199 presented State College Lodge No. 700 with a gift of $100 to be used for a Masonic Temple.

Plans for a Masonic Temple started small. At a stated meeting on February 16, 1922, an order was drawn for $100 in favor of the trustees for a sinking fund for a Masonic Temple.

A significant step was taken to forward plans for the erection of a Masonic Temple when the "Masonic Temple Association" was incorporated in the Court of Common Pleas in and for Centre County on July 3, 1922 by President Judge Henry C. Quigley. The application for the charter was signed by Brothers Frank M. Torrence, David F. Kapp, George R. Green, Ray I. Webber, Frederick P. Weaver, Harold B. Shattuck, Ray D. Gilliland, William G. Murtorff, Charles L. Kinsloe and George B. Jackson all of State College. The directors for the first year were Brothers Kapp, Weaver, Webber, Shattuck and Jackson. This charter was subsequently amended on February 21, 1923 so as to read: "The number of Directors of said corporation is fixed at nine"; in the same court by the Honorable Judge Henry C. Quigley. The four new directors selected to serve with the original five directors were Brothers David F. Kapp, J. Fred Harvey, Harold B. Shattuck, and Frank M. Torrence.

In order to have working capital, the Masonic Temple Association sold noninterest bearing bonds having a face value of $25. No historical data are known to exist on when the event started or who was the originator of the plans. A photocopy of the known "Masonic Temple Bond Holder" listing the date purchased, names and number of bonds purchased, together with a Balance Sheet as of September 12, 1921 follows:

Bond Holders Page 1 Bond Holders Page 2

These sheets show six deceased bond holders. Incomplete records indicate that the Association contacted some of the widows of the listed brothers, and repaid the bonds when presented or when a signed release form was forwarded in place of the bond. At least two bonds were repaid in the late 1940's or early 1950's. It must be presumed that relatives of the remaining original bond holders, or the bond holders themselves, destroyed their bonds and considered their value to be a donation to the lodge.

The first venture into the real estate business for the corporation was initiated when a special meeting of the Masonic Temple Association on March 21, 1923 agreed to purchase two lots on East College Avenue adjoining the Reformed Church on which were existing buildings. The cost was $10,000 and a mortgage of $6500 and a bond for $13,000 was agreed upon. Interest at 6% paid semi-annually was incorporated into the agreement along with the usual insurance requirement carried in favor of the mortgage holder. The buildings were refitted, and subsequently were known as the Penn State Hotel. Extant records indicate that the Association paid numerous bills to maintain the property. Apparently the Association felt that this was a non-profit venture since they entered into an agreement on March 3, 1925 to sell the real estate to Eugene H. Lederer of State College for $11,750.

Subsequent to the sale of the rented real estate to E. H. Lederer, the affairs of the Association remained rather dormant. At various times, committees were appointed to investigate various sites and present plans for the purchase of certain properties, all without reaching any definite objectives.

A special meeting of State College Lodge was held on April 25, 1940 to consider extending the lease on space currently occupied by the Lodge. Brother Guy Z. Stover expressed his idea of purchasing land and erecting a Masonic Temple thereon through the Masonic Temple Association.

At a Stated Meeting on May 14, 1940, Brother Edward L. Willard, W.M., appointed a committee to investigate and present to the lodge on a subsequent date, propositions for erection of a Masonic Temple in State College. At the same time, the Masonic Temple Association also appointed a committee with the same idea in view. The separate committees worked in unison and at a later meeting of the Masonic Temple Association, the following joint committee was appointed consisting of these brothers:

  • Guy Z. Stover, Chairman
  • Edward L. Willard
  • Clarion L. Hollobaugh
  • Frank M. Torrence
  • Roland G. Aungst
  • Charles A. Lamm
  • Hubert C. Koch
  • Harry J. Behrer
  • Robert A. Kerstetter* or Arthur L. Haskins
  • Frank P. Knoll

*R. A. Kerstetter's wife was extremely ill, and R. A. Kerstetter could not attend lodge. R. A. Kerstetter was then Senior Warden.

This joint committee was charged with the duty to make a comprehensive survey as to what sites were available, present plans for a building and to submit probable costs, etc. After a comprehensive study by the committee it was reported that the most desirable site available was the lot at 240 South Fraser Street.

This lot measured 50 feet by 172 feet and could be purchased for a reasonable sum. The committee was authorized to negotiate its purchase and this site was finally purchased from Mrs. Roy D. Beman on October 8, 1940 for $1,500. Thus, this lot became the second parcel of real estate purchased by the Association.

In the meantime, Brother Charles A. Lamm, assisted by Walter W. Tramer, had prepared extensive plans and sketches for a Temple to occupy the site selected, and these plans became the basic plan for the building. On February 11, 1941, the Association authorized the preparation of final plans and specifications by Brother P. Boyd Kapp, Registered Architect, and further authorized the taking of bids on the various units of the building.

Proposed Building Layout

On May 13, 1941, the joint committee was authorized to make necessary contracts for the erection of a building. The following contracts were awarded:

  • General Building Contract- A. W. Bartges, State College, PA
  • Heating Contract - State College Sheet Metal Works, State College, PA
  • Plumbing Contract- 0. E. Maelhorn, State College, PA
  • Hardware Contract - Harry J. Behrer, State College, PA
  • Electrical Contract - Electric Supply Company, State College, PA
  • The purchase of the 5 shade Colonial Brick from the R. C. Savacool Clay Sales of Millerstown by the Association direct.

The General Contractor started construction by breaking ground on May 28, 1941. On Tuesday, July 8, 1941, the corner stone of the new Masonic Temple was laid. The members of the lodge assembled at the lodge rooms on West Beaver Avenue at 6:00 p.m. daylight savings time, and marched to the site of the new Masonic Temple on South Fraser Street for the ceremony. A dispensation had been granted by Brother William H. Brehm, R.W.G.M., authorizing Brother W. Harrison Walker, D.D.G.M. of the 21st Masonic district, assisted by the Officers and members of State College Lodge No. 700 F. & A. M., to lay the corner-stone of the new Masonic Temple Building at State College, PA.

The following members of the fraternity assumed the positions and duties as prescribed by the Grand Lodge; Brothers:

  • Acting Right Worshipful Grand Master - W. Harrison Walker
  • Acting Right Worshipful Deputy Grand Master - Charles A. Lamm
  • Acting Right Worshipful Grand Senior Warden- Edward H. Rohrbeck
  • Acting Right Worshipful Grand Junior Warden - Harold D. Bottorf
  • Acting Right Worshipful Grand Treasurer - Robert J. Miller
  • Acting Right Worshipful Grand Secretary - Frank M. Torrence
  • Grand Chaplain - Harry A. Baback
  • Acting Grand Senior Deacon - Henry S. Elder
  • Acting Grand Stewart - Thomas S. Patterson
  • Acting Grand Marshall - Arthur L. Haskins
  • Acting Grand Sword Bearer- Thomas I. Mairs
  • Acting Grand Pursuivant - Ross W. Edmiston
  • Acting Grand Tyler- W. Harrison Thompson

In addition, the following District Deputy Grand Masters were present at the laying of the cornerstone:

  • James E. Alter, District No. 19, New Bloomfield, PA
  • Ralph H. Galbraith, District No. 34, Huntingdon, PA
  • J. Harris Mussina, District No. 33, Lock Haven, PA
  • Howard M. Pickering, District No. 41, Johnstown, PA
  • George P. Druebemiller, District No. 46, Sunbury, PA

The following articles were deposited in the Corner-Stone on July 8, 1941:

  • Holy Bible
  • American Flag
  • Copy of Dispensation granted by Bro. William H. Brehm, R. W. Grand. Master authorizing W. Harrison Walker, District Deputy Grand Master of the 21st Masonic District, assisted by the Officers and members of State College Lodge No. 700, F. &. A. M. to lay the Corner-Stone of the new Masonic Temple Building at State College, PA.
  • List of Acting Grand Lodge Officers participating in the laying of the Corner-Stone.
  • Copy of Manning's Masonic Register for 1941, in which is contained a complete list of all Officers of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania for 1941; Past Grand Masters from 1730 to 1940 inclusive; list of Lodges under the Jurisdiction of Pennsylvania; list of Officers and living Past Masters of all Lodges in the jurisdiction of Pennsylvania for the year 1941.
  • List of names of speakers and honor guests.
  • Numerous old coins.
  • Masonic apron of State College Lodge No. 700, F. &. A. M.
  • Copy of By-laws of State College Lodge No. 700, F. &. A. M.
  • List of names of Officers and members of State College Lodge No. 700, F. & A. M.
  • Copy of current issues of the several County papers containing a reference to the laying of the corner-stone.
  • List of Churches of State College and their respective pastors.
  • List of State College Boro officials and employees.
  • List of musical organizations participating in the ceremony.
  • Pennsylvania State College Year Book for 1941.

The Officers of the Grand Lodge for 1941; Brothers:

  • William H. Brehm - Right Worshipful Grand Master
  • John A. Lathwood - Right Worshipful Deputy Grand Master
  • Scott S. Leiby - Right Worshipful Senior Grand Warden
  • Richard A. Kern - Right Worshipful Junior Grand Warden
  • Matthew Galt, Jr. - Right Worshipful Grand Secretary
  • J. Sommer Smith - Right Worshipful Grand Treasurer

Obviously, the lease on the quarters used in the Nittany Realty building were allowed to lapse. The September 9, 1941 stated meeting of the lodge was held in the Lodge Room of Bellefonte Lodge #268, Bellefonte, PA and the October·14, 1941 stated meeting was held in the Lodge Room of Old Fort Lodge #537, Centre Hall, PA. Apparently there was considerable business to complete during the October meeting. Extant records show that "the lodge closed in harmony and good order at 11:59.75 p.m."

The first meeting in the new building on South Fraser Street was at the Stated Meeting on November 11, 1941. According to the records there were 69 members present, and 112 visitors. The following officers presided; Brothers:

  • A. L. Haskins - Senior Warden, Acting as Worshipful Master
  • R. W. Edwards - Acting as Senior Warden
  • W. W. Trainer - Acting as Junior Warden
  • J. A. Glenn - Treasurer
  • F. M. Torrence - Secretary
  • L. F. Hartman - Chaplain

An open house was held at the new State College Masonic Temple on South Fraser Street from 8:00 to 9:30 p.m. on March 25, 1942. As estimated 225 Masons and their wives were present. Everybody was taken on a tour of the new building, including the lodge room, caretaker's apartment and club room. Following the tour, refreshments were served in the club room.

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