MONTEBELLO-WHITTIER LODGE NO. 323
WHITTIER LODGE NO. 323
MONTEBELLO LODGE NO. 451
TRIAD LODGE NO. 812
EL RANCHO LODGE NO. 759
RIO HONDO LODGE NO. 800
Whittier Lodge No. 323 was chartered in 1895.
Montebello Lodge No. 451 was chartered in 1914.
El Rancho Lodge No. 759 was chartered in 1956
Rio Hondo Lodge No. 800 was chartered in 1960
Triad Lodge No. 812 was chartered in 1962
Triad Lodge No. 812 and Montebello Lodge No. 451 consolidated as Montebello Lodge No. 451 in 1985
El Rancho Lodge No. 759 and Rio Hondo Lodge No. 800 consolidated as El Rancho Rio Hondo Lodge No. 800 in 1988
El Rancho Rio Hondo Lodge No. 800 and Montebello Lodge No. 451 consolidated as Montebello Lodge No. 451 in 1993
Whittier Lodge No. 323 and Montebello Lodge No. 451 consolidated as Montebello-Whittier Lodge No. 323 in 1999
Whittier Masonic Temple - Christmas 2019
Whittier Lodge No. 323, F. & A. M. Historical Sketch
for the 50th Anniversary
November 16, 1944
From the records of the First Preliminary meeting held on October 8. 1894, in Whittier, California, we read, "the following named brethren, recognized by each other as Master Masons in good standing, assembled at the office of Bro. John C. Hiatt for the purpose of taking the necessary measures for the establishment of a Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons, viz: Brothers Charles O. Tucker, Ansin Gwin, Robert B. Way, Gilbert H. Horney, John C. Hiatt, John Wood, Arthur W. Swain, Benjamin F. Arnold, Rufus Johnson, W. K. Washburn, George C. Lawhead, Willetts J. Hole, Milo Allen and S. A. Coleman."
Bro. C. O. Tucker was named chairman and Bro. Robert B. Way Secretary. After the objects of the meeting were out lined it was suggested that the first step taken should be the selection of a name for the proposed new Lodge, "whereupon on motion of Bro. John C. Hiatt, it was Ordered, that the Lodge now sought to be established shall be called Whittier Lodge."
The next requisite was the selection of a Master and Wardens to be named in the petition for Dispensation and the following men nominated: Bro. Robert B. Way, Master; Bro. Sidney M. Allison, Senior Warden and Bro. Arthur W. Swain, Junior Warden, for recommendation to the Grand Master.
This meeting was followed by five more preliminary meetings during which time a Lodge Hall and equipment were procured, a recommendation from Norwalk Lodge #315 obtained and a petition for a dispensation was prepared to be presented to Grand Lodge. The money for the above was secured by the subscription of the brothers in attendance. This petition was signed and accompanied by the demits of the following Brethren:
Robert B. Way, Pasadena Lodge # 272 California
Sidney M. Allison, So. Calif. Lodge # 278 California
Arthur Wm. Swain. So. Calif. Lodge # 278 California
John C. Hiatt. So. Calif. Lodge #278 California
John Wood, Lompoc Lodge # 260 California
Rufus Johnson, Norwalk Lodge #315 California
Charles Oliver Tucker. Norwalk Lodge # 315 California
Gilbert H. Horney. Norwalk Lodge #315 California
George A. Towne, Norwalk Lodge # 315 California
Charles P. Livingston, Norwalk Lodge # 315 California
Harrison K. Custer, Norwalk Lodge #315 California
Ansin Gwin, Norwalk Lodge # 315 California
Milo Allen, Gem Lodge # 429 Iowa
George C. Lawhead, Model Lodge # 315 Iowa
Willetts J. Hole, North Vermon Lodge # 386 Indiana
Charles H. Butterfield, Stafford Lodge # 29 New Hampshire
Frederick Thompson, Anchor Lodge #273 California
Dispensation was granted by Grand Master James Bounty Stevens on November 13, 1894, appointing Robert B. Way, Master, Sidney M. Allison, Senior Warden and Arthur Wm. Swain, Junior Warden. The first meeting of Whittier Lodge U. D. was held on November 15, 1894. The appointive officers who served the year under Dispensation and the following year, the first under charter, were as follows: John C. Hiatt, Treasurer; Charles P. Livingston, Secretary; Charles O. Tucker, Senior Deacon; Gilbert H. Horney, Junior Deacon; George C. Lawhead, Marshal; Willetts J. Hole, Senior Steward; Ansin Gwin, Junior Steward; Harrison K. Custer, Tiler. There was not a Chaplain appointed the first year but John Wood served in that capacity the first year under charter.
The By-Laws were prepared at this meeting and forwarded to the Grand Master for his approval. Excerpts from our first By-Laws: "The stated meetings of this Lodge shall be holden on the Thursday of or next preceding the full moon in each month." This no doubt was to facilitate travel by the brethren in horse drawn vehicles to and from Lodge. Fees for the three degrees were $50.00, no charge was made for affiliation until 1903 when a fee of $3.00 was established. Dues were $6.00 per year.
The meeting place obtained for the new Lodge was "in the Reynolds block opposite the Lindley Hotel, at a rental of $5.00 per month." This Whittier landmark, known as: Whittier's most historic building and known today as the Will A. Smith Building is still standing, being located at 222 East Philadelphia Street the first building west of the alley and directly across the street from the Roxy Theater.
(The first meeting place. - 222 East. Philadelphia St)
The first stated meeting was held December 6, 1894, at which time the first petition was read, from Wm. Macy Hiatt. He was also the first candidate to be raised, on February 25, 1895.
A charter was petitioned for and was granted by Grand Lodge at its annual convocation in 1895 and on October 26, 1895, our Lodge was constituted under Charter as Whittier Lodge #323 F. & A. M.
With increasing membership, the Lodge Hall soon became too small and on August 9, 1900, they were offered quarters in a new building being constructed by Bro. John C. Hiatt at the southeast corner of Philadelphia and Comstock at a rental of $20.00 per month with an option to buy for $5200.00. It was taken on a rental basis and was occupied late that year.
The Lodge prospered these first few years, with many new members by petition and affiliation. Expenses were low, the Secretary serving without salary and janitor fees were 50c per meeting. 75c if refreshments were served. The Hall was occasionally sublet for $1.00 per evening.
On April 9, 1903, we read that "a committee of five be appointed by the Worshipful Master, including himself as chairman, to consider the matter of purchasing a property in Whittier for the purpose of building thereon." The committee was composed of William G. Reichling, Chairman, W. A. Vernon, M. Holbrook, A. H. Gregg and J. C. Hiatt. On September 3, 1903, the above committee reported to the Lodge that "after a thorough canvass of the town for a building site they had purchased the 50 feet lying 50 feet. north of the bowling alley for $2400.00." This is the location of our present Lodge building. It was at this meeting that the necessary step was taken, a motion, that a committee of five be appointed to proceed with the incorporation of a body for the erection of a building upon the lot selected by the committee. This was authorization for our Whittier Masonic Temple Association. The Master appointed William L. Reichling, Geo. L. Hazzard, John Wood, R. B. Way and John Nickson.
A little less than a month after the filing of articles of incorporation, September 23, 1903, the stockholders met in the office of Geo. L. Hazzard and proceeded to elect officers. William L. Reichling was selected as chairman and Geo. L. Hazzard, secretary. In addition to these two Brethren there were present O. M. Souden, John Nickson and Wm. M. Hiatt, each owning one share of capital stock, the total then issued. This was the organization of our first Board of Directors of the Whittier Masonic Temple Association.
A few words pertaining to the early history of this body, created to build, operate, and maintain our now Lodge owned physical plant, is proper at this time. The first directors had a long and uphill struggle against odds that would have discouraged less able and courageous bought stock in the Association only sporadically for several men. The Lodge years and the directors were concerned lest non-Masonic individuals or organizations might gain control. The ably managed corporation made money none the less from the start. as attested by the fact that the last of the 333 shares of $25.00 par value capital stock issued was purchased by the Lodge at $55.00 per share. With the passing of time, new blood came into Whittier Lodge and a systematic system of purchases of outstanding stock inaugurated until in 1925 all had been acquired and the dream of the directors was realized, a wholly Lodge-owned holding corporation for its physical assets.
Too much recognition cannot be given the sincere efforts of the early directors, particularly Wm. L. Reichling, the first and for many years chairman of the Board and its successive secretaries, Geo. L. Hazzard, C. C. Buffington and O. B. Griffin. How well they built is attested by the fact that we survived hard times and depressions until today our properties are conservatively valued at $60,000. It is with regret that we note that of all the brothers mentioned in this article this far only O. B. Griffin is living today.
Bids for the construction of the new temple were opened and on June 19, 1906, the low bid of Contractor D. P. Jordon was accepted. On June 20th a note for $10,000.00 was signed to the Leffingwell Ranch Co. for funds with which to start construction. On August 6th the corner stone was laid with impressive ceremonies, presided over by Grand Master Motley H. Flint.. On January 17, 1907, the Temple Association formally accepted the building from the contractor. James H. Stewart was inspector of construction for the Association and the overall initial cost was $16,108.28 which included $728.89 for a carpet. The first Lodge meeting held in the new temple was for the installation of officers, held January 28, 1907. The honor of opening the first meeting therein went to James H. Stewart, outgoing Master. Frank Owens, incoming Master, closed this first meeting.
(The cornerstone can be seen on the far left of the photo by the entrance to the building. It currently sits inside the Lodge room of the Whittier Masonic Temple)
By resolution adopted in 1914 we for the first time extended the privilege to members to buy life memberships, to date 51 Brothers have purchased these certificates. Whittier Lodge has suffered two major periods of financial stringency, the first in 1903-04 era, caused the Lodge to seek a $1,000.00 loan to pay bills overdue. Again in 1915 the financial condition was such that it could not respond to all the calls for charity and had to discontinue the buying of stock in the Temple Association for one year. The war years 1917-18 were noted for the great increase in member ship, which eased the financial situation. The early days of the oil boom in Santa Fe Springs also made good times for Whittier Lodge. In one of these years, 1923, 154 degrees were conferred. The Junior Warden conferring the Firsts on Wednesday nights, the Senior Warden the Seconds on Thursday nights, and the Thirds, usually five, were conferred on Saturday afternoon and evening by the Master and Past Masters with time out for a 6:30 dinner.
The first Past Masters' night was held during Charles Milliken's year as Master, on November 15, 1917. On December 4. 1919, twenty petitions and five applications for member ship were read, this was the meeting preceding the raising of fees for degrees from $25.00 to $50.00. Again, on December 28. 1922, nineteen petitions were read before the fees were raised to $70.00. At this time the stated meeting night was changed to the second Thursday night of the month.
In 1923 the custom of giving souvenir trowels to all newly raised Brothers was started, which procedure is still in practice. Also, in this year it was voted to rescind a motion, new in the minutes, that we place our temple on sale for $10,000.00. In 1924 a 75-foot lot was purchased on the east side of North Greenleaf Avenue in the 200 block for possible use as a building site for a new temple. This property is still in our possession. In 1925 Elmer Wiles presented Herbert Plannette with a perpetual square, which has since been proudly worn by each Master during his term of office.
The 1929 earthquake damaged our temple, repair of which, together with alterations, amounted to $10,000.00 and again in 1933 earthquake damage and renovation amounted to $6.000.00. It was during this period. April until September, that meetings were held in a Sunday School room of the M. E. Church.
In 1930 our stated meeting night was changed from the second to the first Thursday.
One of the most anticipated and delightful occasions of the Masonic year is our Annual Masonic Barbecue which was started in 1936 and which has been held consecutively on the last Thursday of July, except 1943 when war restrictions were prohibitive. The setting of this event is Brother Robert Alexander's Shallow Brook Ranch and the attendance has risen from 250 in 1936 until capacity, 600, was reached in 1942. It attracts not only Masons of this vicinity but Masonic personalities from all Southern California.
In 1937 Brother Victor York presented us with an altar of superlative artistry, which is described elsewhere in this booklet. In 1939 the Temple Association beautified our Lodge Room with a new carpet.
Whittier Lodge has been privileged to supply five Inspectors to the 96th Masonic District, they were Brothers James H. Stewart, Thomas M. Frampton, Frank Owens, Lee S. Sawin and Roy I. Le Fever, the latter serving 14 years in this capacity.
Whittier Lodge is very proud of its one 50-year Mason, who appropriately, is also our only 33rd Degree Mason. He is Brother O. W. Maulsby, one of the most beloved and distinguished Masons in the California jurisdictions. He was instrumental in starting the Commandery in the Republic of Mexico and is known as the father of Whittier Commandery # 51.
Our members have contributed generously toward the Masonic Homes Endowment Fund. In the last few years Whittier Lodge has been very near the top among Lodges throughout the state. Our 1944 subscription was $930.00. Our support of the war effort through purchase of War Bonds has been substantial. The overall financial position of Whittier Lodge is eminently satisfactory.
Whittier Lodge #323 is proud of its 50 years of progress of its contribution to Masonry in California and to the community of Whittier.
(Center, this building was our home from 1907 until 1964 - 130 N. Greenleaf Ave.)
Having weathered the financial problems of the depression years, a period of growth followed as the rolls of the Lodge grew to a peak in 1958 with 829 members. This growth necessitated the building of a new and larger Temple for the use by the Lodge and the concordant organizations. After an extensive search a site on the corner of Greenleaf and Mar Vista Avenues was purchased. Ground was broken for the new Temple on Wednesday, February 26, 1964. On Saturday, November 21, 1964, the corner stone was set and the building dedicated by Most Worshipful Theodore Meriam, Grand Master on Masons in California.
Whittier Masonic Temple - Unknown year
The 75th Anniversary was celebrated on October 26, 1970 with Most Worshipful Herbert A. Huebner, Grand Master of Masons and other Grand Lodge officers in attendance. An added highlight of the 75th observance was the symbolic burning of the temple mortgage.
Two thousand and twenty was our 125th anniversary. A global pandemic brought the world to a halt. We continued to meet virtually and when the vaccine was widely available, we gathered in smaller numbers.