A History of the 1st 150 Years

of

Warpole Lodge # 176

By Ronald E. Pool from the 150th anniversary and reconsecration program

including excerpts from the 100th year reconsecration celebration program.

Updated August 15, 2008.

 

On April 5, 1849, nine men armed with a minute book, a supply of ink and a quill pen gathered in the attic above the cell block in the Wyandot County Jail, which stood just south of the present sight of the courthouse. All were Master Masons, who considered the attic as private as any place could be. They had met on serious business, that of discussing the organization of a Masonic Lodge in Upper Sandusky, Ohio.

In the brief and almost undecipherable minutes of that meeting they are listed as Joseph McCutchen, Moses H. Kirby, George T. Frees, Eric Lache, Michael Rich, John N. Reed, Andrew Dumm, a visitor from out of town, John Caldwell and Vol. D Baylys, deputy grand master. After discussion, it was decided to proceed with the organization of a lodge. On the evening of the same day, eight men met in the "hall", as it is listed in the minutes, and prepared a petition by candelight, asking the grand lodge for a dispensation to form a new lodge, the petition having been recognized by Sandusky Lodge, No. 77, of Tiffin, Ohio.

It was a chilly evening and the Brothers decided that a purchase of a wood stove would be in order. The Master Masons listed as being present at this second meeting on April 5 were: Joseph McCutchen, Abel Renick, Moses H. Kirby, George T. Frees, John N. Reed, Andrew Dumm, Dr. John I. Hartz, and Michael Rich.

The dispensation was granted under the date of March 28, 1849. At the lodge's first meeting under the dispensation, Thomas Baird was duly initiated for a fee of $1 and an application for membership was received from A. Little. On May 15, 1849, the lodge voted to set aside fifteen percent of all receipts for a charity fund. This fund was wisely administered and the lodge did much good in providing relief for the needy. A little later the initiation fee was set at $5, but when a minister of the gospel applied for membership, the lodge, decided that a preacher ought to be initiated for $1 a degree. On June 5, 1849, the lodge voted to enter into a contract for use of part of the room occupied by the I.O.O.F. and the Sons of Temperance. This room was in the building on the southwest corner of Wyandot and Sandusky Avenues.

The lodge agreed to pay the Sons of Temperance $2.50 a quarter. A short time later the Masons were able to construct a small anteroom in their quarters.

On September 25, 1849, the lodge found its treasury depleated and assessed each of its members fifty cents. Dues seemed hard to collect and committees were appointed at frequent intervals to urge the delinquent Brothers to pay up. One member was allowed to pay his dues by supplying cord wood, cut to size to fit the stove. Moses H. Kirby was appointed delegate to the Grand Lodge in October, 1849, and on October 16, 1849, a Charter was granted. The lodge at that time had twenty-nine members, and the following officers were installed: Joseph McCutchen, W.M.; Moses H. Kirby, S.W.; George W. Frees. J.W.; Michael Rich, S.D.; John N. Reed, J.D.; Alex Little,Secretary; Dr. John I Hartz, Treasurer; Andrew Dumm, Tyler. William B. Hubbard was the Most Worshipful Grand Master and the installing officer.

Moses H. Kirby, the second master of the lodge, served in that capacity for twenty years. During his reign the lodge considered moving to another room, not identified in the records, but the lodge voted against it, because, in the verbose language of the minutes, it was "insufficient for a lodge room on account of the size of the room being too small."

By 1884 the lodge had fifty-four members. At that time J. F. Reiser was Worshipful Master and W.A. Gibson, senior warden. Warpole Lodge, No. 176, F&AM, purchased the south half of the Odd Fellows Hall and continued to hold meetings there until August, 1898. The Lodge had charge of laying the cornerstone of the new courthouse in October, 1897.

Membership had been growing by leaps and bounds and the room and use for so many years became too small. It was sold to Pietro Cuneo for $200 and the S. H. Hunt building was purchased for $1,200.50. It was a two-story brick building on the site of the present temple. The lower floor was used for the storage of wool and the second floor for lodge quarters. Meetings were held there until 1908 when the lodge bought twenty-two feet of land from the Methodist Episcopal church and began the erection of the present temple.

The new temple was built in 1909-1910, at a cost of $15,000. During its construction the lodge met in what was known as Billhardt's Hall, the third floor of the building on the southeast corner of Sandusky Avenue and Johnson Street.

At one time during its history the lodge had need of a piece of canvas. The Knights of Malta, whose lodge had ceased to function here, had stored its paraphernalia in a corn crib southwest of this city. Someone came up with the brilliant statement that there was a piece of canvas in the corn crib. In some manner, history records not how, the canvas disappeared from the crib and reappeared in the Masonic lodge hall.

The cornerstone of the new temple was laid on September 14, 1909, with elaborate ceremonies. In the cornerstone were placed copies of each of the local newspapers, The Daily Chief and The Daily Union and some newly minted Lincoln pennies. During the ceremonies; inorder to comply with a request previously made by D.S. Miller, one of the stalwarts of the lodge and general chairman of the building committee; Charles Artz, Worshipful Master; performed a great feat of magic when he succeeded in presenting a new trowel to the Most Worshipful Grand Master (while retaining the one that had actually been used in the cornerstone laying). This trowel, properly inscribed, is now a relic of Warpole Lodge and is displayed near the tyler's station. The new temple was dedicated one year after the cornerstone laying.

During the century and a half of Masonry here there came into being McCutchen Chapter No. 96, R.A.M.; Upper Sandusky Council No. 98, R&SM; Warpole Chapter No. 366, OES; Upper Sandusky Chapter, Order of DeMolay; and Warpole Assembly 110, Order of the Rainbow for Girls. All have survived. Warpole lodge now has a membership of 216.

In passing down the years of Masonic history the names of many are noted who were outstanding in their service, and the roll of the lodge during its 150+ years has always been made up of leading citizens of this community, including Mayor Kenneth Richardson who presented the lodge a proclamation from the city on the occasion of its 150th anniversary.

At the time of the reconsecration, John F. Myers was the oldest member of the lodge being born in 1908, a year before the present temple was built. Myers was closely followed by Charles Heilman (1909) and Glen Hudson (1910). (Brother Hudson was in attendance at the reconsecration and spoke of his experiences.) Dr. Frederick M. Kenan, a resident of Arizona and the doctor who delivered many of the younger members of the lodge, was raised on July 4, 1932 and was the member with the longest service to the temple. Kenan was followed by: Robert E. Harman, 3/6/34; Glen Hudson, 11/13/34; and Richard Hull, 7/6/37. (Dr. Kenan passed away on May 23, the day after the reconsecration.)

Several of its members have gone beyond the realm of local service and through zealous work has advanced through several Masonic state organizations. The most notable is Thomas A. Reber, who served as the Most Worshipful Grand Master of The Grand Lodge of Ohio in 1952-53, a great honor for Warpole Lodge. Reber, 1936-41; Robert J. Troup, 1953-55; and James L. Evans, 1970-71; served as District Deputy Grand Masters of the 16th Masonic District.

Five members' photos hang proudly on the lodge's Masonic-north wall, noting service to a Masonic state-wide organization. The five from left to right are: Ronald E. Pool and Dale E. Shambaugh, Past Grand Masters of the Grand Council; Thomas A. Reber, Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge; R. Eugene Loose, Past Grand Commander of Knights Templar of Ohio; and James M. McDonald, Grand High Priest of the Grand Chapter of Ohio. Near the secretary's desk is a photo of Cleo S. Grossman, Past Eminent Prior of Ohio Priory # 18 Knights of the York Cross of Honour. Loose, Reber, Pool and Shambaugh also received the Scottish Rite 33rd degree, while Grossman, Loose, Reber, McDonald and Pool qualified and were elected Knights of the York Cross of Honour. A total of 23 men affiliated with this temple were initiated as Knights of the York Cross of Honour. In addition, members Andrew E. Loose and Robert M. McClain also received the 33rd Degree from the Scottish Rite.

In the anteroom a photo of Mark A. Loose is displayed since he served as the State Master Councilor of Ohio DeMolay in 1974-75 and later that year was elevated to International Master Councilor of all DeMolay members in the world. His nephew, Craig A. Loose also served as State Master Councilor of DeMolay in 2006-07.

An annual 4th of July meeting is tyled at 5:30 a.m. with a memorial service and degree work (usually Master Mason). This event has been held since 1923 with only two years (1939 & 45) being dark. In recent years this meeting is followed by a breakfast and a golf outing.

The lodge has been very active in this city of approximately 7,000. In 1991 a pancake and sausage breakfast was established annually serving 500 persons pancakes and Bob Evans sausage in 4.5 hours. The goal of that first breakfast was to raise a few hundred dollars to replace the wooden chairs in the dinning room. To the committee's surprise, profits that year totaled more that $2,000 and 60 new chairs and 20 new banquet tables were purchased. In the 18 years of this once-a-year project, in excess $42,000 has been raised for facility improvements.

In 1994 we were saddened that Marseilles #515 had decided to surrender its charter. Warpole Lodge was honored to learn that the good brethren of Marseilles had decided to merge with us since both lodges had been very close over the years with Warpole being the sponsor of Marseilles when it received its charter. Past Masters of the former Marseilles Lodge were contacted and invited to participate in the reconsecration of their "new" lodge.

Also in 1994 an endowment fund was established with donations from the members and a portion of the sale of the Marseilles Masonic Hall. Funds are invested in CDs and only the interest from this fund is used to make improvements in the building. This Endowment now totaling in excess of $42,000 has helped to keep the dues structure low, while still allowing thousands of dollars for maintenance to the building. In addition a large bequest from the Oliver Eblin estate has allowed the lodge to make improvements at the facility.

In 1998 Warpole Lodge participated in the city's Sesquicentennial Celebration by opening its dining room for a historical display. Being the oldest club or organization in the city (as noted on the front page of the local newspaper), the membership felt it was an excellent opportunity to show off our facility. In addition to the exhibit in out dining room, a visit to our lodge room was offered to the public with more than 150 persons traveling upstairs. Many comments were received about the beautiful, colorful building with its large oak woodwork, huge thick oak doors, dark blue carpet, pale blue walls, white tin ceiling and red upholstered chairs. Many in the community had never seen the interior of this beautiful, old building located on West Johnson Street, built nearly 90 years ago. Although the lodge room is one of the larger rooms in the city, its acoustics and seating on the main-floor level are nearly perfect for the intimacy required for a lodge meeting. When a special event is planned the balcony provides the extra seating required.

Starting in 2000, the outside bricks were repointed and sealed; the roof repaired; restrooms were moved and updated; the office and stage updated; and new tile flooring installed downstairs. The old red theater seats were removed by the good brothers of Bellevue Lodge, who wanted them for their facility, and Warpole's seats were replaced by large individual, movable chairs. After purchasing the 100 new seats, the family of Richard C. Hull decided to pay for the new chairs in memory of Brother Hull. A plaque in the ante room acknowledges their donation.

In 2007 a crew of volunteers spent several nights moving furniture and paraphernalia in order that the 32-year old carpet upstairs could be removed and replaced along with the carpet in the TV room. The new carpeting upstairs has a colorful design and funds were provided by Warpole Chapter 366, OES; the Eblin Improvement Fund and the Pancake & Sausage Fund.

In 2008 the floor in the kitchen was upgraded to tile and the huge front oak doors repaired and refinished.

By continuing the efforts of all its members and their unrelenting desire to uphold the high standards of Freemasonry, this lodge has survived and prospered. May the Great Architect of the Universe give us grace to continue another 150 years in our beloved fraternity and in His service.

 

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