- 1 WILLIAM SEWALL GARDNER LODGE
- 2 REFERENCES IN GRAND LODGE PROCEEDINGS
- 2.1 ANNIVERSARIES
- 2.2 VISITS BY GRAND MASTER
- 2.3 BY-LAW CHANGES
- 2.4 HISTORY
- 2.4.1 25TH ANNIVERSARY HISTORY, MARCH 1953
- 2.4.2 50TH ANNIVERSARY HISTORY, FEBRUARY 1978
- 2.4.3 75TH ANNIVERSARY HISTORY, MAY 2003
- 2.5 OTHER
- 2.6 GRAND LODGE OFFICERS
- 2.7 DISTRICTS
- 2.8 LINKS
WILLIAM SEWALL GARDNER LODGE
Chartered By: Frank L. Simpson
Charter Date: 12/12/1928 1928-414
Precedence Date: 03/06/1928
- Garfield Davis, 1928; N
- Lucius A. Derby, 1929, 1930
- Walter L. Muzzey, 1931, 1932
- Ralph P. Coates, 1933, 1934; N
- Bertrand A. McKittrick, 1935, 1936
- John G. Parker, 1937, 1938
- Frank F. Hobson, 1939, 1940
- Richard B. Walsh, 1941, 1942
- Henry R. Walker, 1943, 1944
- Arthur F. Woodies, 1945, 1946
- Raymond W. McKittrick, 1947, 1948
- Edward B. Russell, 1949, 1950
- Joseph E. Stavely, 1951, 1952
- Harold H. Sloan, 1953, 1954
- Lucian H. Burns, 1955, 1956
- Daniel C. Hanson, 1957
- Thomas W. Critchley, 1958
- Toure F. Larson, 1959, 1960
- Donald E. Smith, 1961
- Arthur L. Bennett, 1962
- Norman L. Staveley, 1963; N
- Ralph E. House, 1964
- Douglas J. Logan, 1965
- Allen C. Mello, 1966
- Forrest H. Bourbonnie, 1967
- John R. Kydd, Jr., 1968
- Robert W. Pearson, 1969
- Arthur C. Jones, 1970
- Ronald W. Wetmore, 1971; PDDGM
- James E. McNeill, 1972
- Charles Mitchum, Jr., 1973
- Robert L. Wetmore, 1974
- Chandler J. Robinson, 1975
- Bruce W. Sargent, 1976, 1995
- Robert W. LaPierre, 1977; N
- Paul D. Rideout, 1978
- Robert E. Sutton, 1979
- Charles M. Bade, 1980
- Carl M. Russo, 1981
- Richard S. Ferrell, 1982
- Robert F. Hammond, 1983
- Ralph H. House, 1984
- Robert W. Carlson, 1985
- Gary H. Ward, 1986
- George G. Brown, Jr., 1987
- Bruce G. Mitchell, 1988
- Edward B. Acheson, 1989, 1992
- Theodore S. Panek, 1990
- Herbert W. Mitchell, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994; PDDGM
- Alfred L. Morin, Jr., 1996, 1997
- Roger Whitehead, 1998
- James W. Baxter, 1999, 2000
- Francis J. Shumbata, 2001, 2002
- Dennis S. Sargent, 2003, 2004
- Bruce A. Karafelis, 2005, 2006, 2007
- John S. Papleacos, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012
- Karl Hanson, 2013, 2014
- Bruce A. Karafelis, 2015,
- John S. Papleacos, 2016, 2017
- Karl Hanson, 2018
- Sean Provost, 2019
REFERENCES IN GRAND LODGE PROCEEDINGS
- Petition for Dispensation: 1928
- Petition for Charter: 1928
- Consolidation Petition (with Kilwinning Lodge): 2007
VISITS BY GRAND MASTER
- 1929 (H. Dean; Constitution of Lodge and installation)
- 1953 (Roy; 25th Anniversary)
- 1978 (Melanson; 50th Anniversary)
- 1990 (Darling; table lodge)
- 2003 (Hicks; 75th Anniversary)
- 2007 (Hodgdon; Consolidation with Kilwinning Lodge)
- 1953 (25th Anniversary History, 1953-79; see below)
- 1978 (50th Anniversary History, 1978-4; see below)
- 2003 (75th Anniversary History, 2003-48; see below)
25TH ANNIVERSARY HISTORY, MARCH 1953
From Proceedings, Page 1953-79:
By Worshipful Arthur F. Woodies.
A history of William Sewall Gardner is the autobiography of a family.
By the grace of God, and by the directing light of an eternal flame of faith and purpose, we escaped most of the pitfalls incident to youth and adolescence, and have come to this quarter-of-a-century milestone spiritually, morally and financially sound. By any measurement it has been a good life and the reason may be found in these words: The solidarity and integrity of the family, anchored to the ageless rocks of love, respect, charity, sense of responsibility, loyalty and a common interest.
With this self-appraisal, we turn time back to the year 1928 (A.L. 5928) when were sown the seeds that today provide us bountiful harvest in sheafs of nostalgic reminiscence, proud contemplation and brave glances into the crystal ball of the future.
The Chronological Story
The year of our birth was at the threshold of an era of national economic depression. Also, in 1926, the Masonic apartments had been destroyed in the Pollard fire, and pending the erection of the present Temple, the business of Masonry was being carried on in the First Universalist Church on Hurd Street. Membership in the four existing Blue Lodges — Pentucket, Ancient York, Kilwinning and William North — was pushing the 2800 mark, and there was talk of the need of another Lodge. Much of this discussion echoed official utterances of Grand Masters in the years just preceding, when, on more than one occasion, they deplored a tendency towards large bodies.
More than any other man, first steps towards the institution of William Sewall Gardner Lodge were plotted and guided by Brother Lucius A. Derby, a member of Pentucket Lodge, our second Worshipful Master, and later on, the first recipient in Lowell of the Joseph Warren Medal, symbolic of outstanding service and devotion to the Fraternity. Signers of the petition for a new Lodge numbered fifty-two and were representative of the four Lowell Lodges and thirteen others in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine and New York. The roster of signers, with Mother Lodges signified, appears elsewhere in this program.
Of the fifty-two original signers of the petition, thirty-four were in attendance at the first meeting, convened on February 29, 1928, at the First Universalist Church. Unanimously, it was voted to name the Lodge William Sewall Gardner, in perpetuation of the memory of a distinguished lawyer and jurist, a past Most Worshipful Grand Master of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Massachusetts and a Mason of high eminence and attainments.
William Sewall Gardner was a native of Hallowell, Maine. He practiced law in Lowell from 1852 to 1861, when he moved to Boston. He was made a Mason in Ancient York Lodge in 1852 and was Master of that Lodge in 1856 and 1857. He was Grand Marshal of the Grand Lodge from 1857 to 1859, District Deputy Grand Master from 1860 to 1863, Senior Grand Warden in 1864, and Most Worshipful Grand Master in 1869, 1870 and 1871. He was active in the organization of Kilwinning Lodge and served as its first Worshipful Master. Other Masonic honors were thick upon him, and today he is considered one of the most distinguished in a long line of Masons in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Worshipful Charles E. Bartlett of Kilwinning Lodge served as temporary chairman at the initial meeting, with Bro. John G. Parker, our sixth Worshipful Master, and a member of Greenpoint Lodge, No. 403, of Brooklyn, New York, as temporary Secretary. It was voted to hold stated communications of the new Lodge on the second Friday of each month, except in July and August. The fee for degrees was set at $100. Officers chosen at that time for presentation to the Grand Master for his approval were: Worshipful Master, Garfield Arthur Davis; Senior Warden, Lucius A. Derby; Junior Warden, Walter L. Muzzey.
In recognition of his work towards organization of the Lodge, Brother Derby was designated to make personal presentation of the petition to the Grand Master. A committee composed of R. W. Frank W. Dobson, Wor. Harry K. Boardman and Bro. Lucius Fairchild was named to draw up a set of by-laws. With the completion of these initial, necessary steps, the machinery of institution of our beloved Lodge was set in motion.
Upon presentation of the application to the Grand Master, a dispensation was granted March 6, 1928, under which the Lodge could work pending receipt of its charter. The dispensation was brought to the Lodge on March 31, 1928, twenty-five years ago this night, by R.W. Warren B. Goddard of Corinthian Lodge, Concord, then District Deputy Grand Master for the Lowell Twelfth Masonic District.
A fortnight after receipt of the dispensation, on Friday, April 13, 1928, the first regular communication of William Sewall Gardner Lodge was held at the First Universalist Church and first applications for degrees were received. In order of their presentation, they were those of: Frank Foster Hobson, Edward Hobbs Brigham, Charles Edward Dowrey, John A. Simpson (deceased), and Ralph Stilman Charles. Jewels worn by the officers at the first meeting were loaned by Pentucket Lodge.
The first degree ritual performed by the Lodge was on May 11, 1928, when the first section of the Entered Apprentice Degree was worked on Frank F. Hobson by Wor. Garfield A. Davis. Others received as Entered Apprentices that night were Edward H. Brigham, John A. Simpson and Charles E. Dowrey. The Holy Bible used by the Lodge at this meeting was the gift of Brother Edward B. Carney of Kilwinning Lodge in memory of his father, Brother George James Carney, who was a close and personal friend of Most Worshipful William Sewall Gardner. A container in which to preserve the Bible was presented to the Lodge by Brother Albert F. French of Ancient York Lodge. A marshal's baton was presented to the Lodge by Brother Lucius A. Derby. It was fashioned from a piece of lignum vitae.
The fifth of the first class of candidates, Ralph S. Charles, was given the Entered Apprentice and Fellow Craft Degrees at special communications held respectively on July 20 and August 17, 1928. On September 14, 1928, Brother Charles was raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason, the first so raised in William Sewall Gardner Lodge.
It was on September 8 of that same year that William Sewall Gardner Lodge participated in its first Masonic procession and formal observance. The occasion was the laying of the cornerstone of the Temple on Dutton Street.
Straight Was The Way
An incident of this celebration set the pattern, if you please, of William Sewall Gardner Lodge's strict attention to detail and meticulous compliance with orders. Being the youngest Lodge in Lowell, we headed the procession to the Temple from the Elks Club, where a special communication had been opened. Because Worshipful Albert D. Milliken, Lodge Marshal, was marching as Commander of Pilgrim Commandery, the duties of that office were assumed by Bro. Ralph P. Coates, then Senior Deacon. At the head of the procession was a band. At the conclusion of the corner-stone laying ceremonies, the line re-formed to proceed to the Genoa Club quarters in the Knights of Columbus building on Dutton Street. The band swung into a stirring march and turned east on Merrimack Street. But not William Sewall Gardner Lodge! Under the Coates baton, they went straight ahead and reached their destination just as the band, all by itself, was passing St. Anne's Church. Music or no music, William Sewall Gardner Lodge had a place to go, and they went. So it has been through the years!
Placed in the corner-stone by the Lodge were a photograph of William Sewall Gardner and a history of his Masonic life, a list of charter members, a copy of the first printed notice, a list of officers who served during the period of dispensation, a group picture of them and a copy of the records of the meeting at which dispensation was granted.
The by-laws of the Lodge were approved at the meeting of November 9,1928, and at the December communication, officers were elected as follows:
- Garfield A. Davis, Worshipful Master
- Lucius A. Derby, Senior Warden
- Walter L. Muzzey, Junior Warden
- Charles F. Langley, Treasurer
- Leslie A. Secor, Secretary
The first fraternal visitation to William Sewall Gardner Lodge by a District Deputy Grand Master occurred on February 8, 1929, when the Lodge received Right Worshipful Alvah H. Weaver.
A Lodge is Born
On Thursday, February 28, 1929, Most Worshipful Herbert W. Dean, Grand Master, and thirty-one Grand Lodge officers, came to Lowell to formally constitute William Sewall Gardner Lodge. The attendance was 378, including forty-four charter members, eight who had received the degrees in the Lodge since its institution and 326 visitors. Music was furnished by the orchestra of the Lowell Electric Light Corporation. The charge was one written by William Sewall Gardner while he was Grand Master, and the entire program was one of impressive dignity. Officers installed at the constitution were:
- Wor. Garfield A. Davis, Master
- Bro. Lucius A. Derby, Senior Warden
- Bro. Walter L. Muzzey, Junior Warden
- Bro. Charles F. Langley, Treasurer
- Bro. Leslie A. Secor, Secretary
- R. W. Frank W. Dobson, Chaplain
- Wor. Albert D. Milliken, Marshal
- Bro. Ralph P. Coates, Senior Deacon
- Albert E. Jones, Junior Deacon
- Harold E. Ayer, Senior Steward
- Bertrand A. McKittrick, Junior Steward
- John G. Parker, Inside Sentinel
- Frank B. Hill, Organist
- Wor. George W. Randall, Tyler
First annual reports were read at the meeting on June 14, 1929. They showed substantial progress in the course of a single year, with savings bank deposits of $1,043.58; total membership of 65, with 15 initiated and 12 raised; and donations of $164 to the Masonic Hospital in Shrewsbury. Also at that meeting a photograph of William Sewall Gardner was presented to the Lodge by Bro. C. Oliver Barnes. From it an engraving was made for use on the cover of Lodge notices, as well as upon the medallion that is part of our Past Master's jewel.
A special meeting was convened on October 8, 1929, for the purpose of assisting in the dedication of the present Temple. Three days later, on the 11th, we held our first meeting in Egyptian Hall. Before the next regular communication, R. W. Harry G. Pollard presented the Lodge the silver Square and Compasses still used on our altar. Later, trestle boards were presented by Bro. Herbert C. Taft, entering tools by Bro. Philip A. Richardson, in behalf of a class of candidates, and an hour glass by Brother Derby.
On November 14, 1930, we instituted a custom that has come down through the years, whereby all members raised are presented Masonic Bibles by the Lodge. Wor. Bro. Derby, then presiding Master, made the custom retroactive to include all Brothers previously raised.
A special meeting of the Lodge was held October 1, 1931, to celebrate the birthday anniversary of William Sewall Gardner, a custom that was followed for a number of years.
The first presentation in Lowell of a Joseph Warren Medal, symbolic of outstanding service to the Craft, was made to Wor. Bro. Derby on November 13, 1931, by R.W. Harold D. MacDonald, then District Deputy Grand Master. The Medal had been struck only a year previous and William Sewall Gardner Lodge shared fully in the honor conferred upon Brother Derby.
An amendment to the by-laws, reducing the membership fee from $30 to $10 was approved on March 10, 1933.
Continuing evidence of the great love held for the Lodge by Wor. Bro. Derby marked the meeting of June 1, 1933, when he presented us a tyler's sword and a 24-inch gauge fashioned of ivory.
An Old Timers' Night was celebrated in December of 1935, at which time the chairs were filled in the same order as when the Lodge was working under dispensation, and R.W. Garfield A. Davis gave a condensed historical sketch of our first seven years.
The fee for life membership in the Lodge was increased to $200 on November 13, 1936.
On May 13, 1938, the fee for the degrees was reduced from $100 to $65, an amount that became standard in all Lowell Lodges.
All past District Deputy Grand Masters and fifty past Masters in the Lowell Twelfth District were guests of the Lodge on September 9, 1938, on which occasion the principal address was given by Most Worshipful Arthur Dow Prince. This meeting also marked the first use of the amplifying system in the banquet-hall.
Dawn of a New Era
When Worshipful Frank F. Hobson was installed as Master in June of 1939, the event symbolized a new era in the life of the Lodge. He was the first candidate initiated in 1928 and therefore, the first of the "new crop," so to speak, to go through the chairs to the East. The six Masters who preceded him were charter members and in line at the time the Lodge was formed. Also at that meeting, Bro. Leslie A. Secor resigned as Secretary and was succeeded by our present Secretary, R. W. Ralph Porter Coates.
It was on December 8, 1939, that the Lodge received the Boaz and Jachin pillars used in the Fellow Craft Degree. They were designed and procured by Worshipful Richard B. Walsh.
At the June communication in 1940, it was noted that savings bank deposits had risen to $2,144.58, an increase of $1,101.00 since the first treasurer's report in 1929.
The membership of the Lodge stood at sixty when Brother Walsh was installed as Worshipful Master in June of 1941. The war years were then upon us, and in many ways, William Sewall Gardner Lodge fulfilled its obligations of service. Members were active in respect to the Masonic Service Center in Ayer, and its field agent, Bro. Sam Wilbur, was a visitor at the Lowell Temple on a number of occasions. Not only did members of the Lodge, with their wives, volunteer for snack-bar duty, but the Lodge as a whole established an enviable record in its contributions to the Masonic Military Service Association. Our per capita subscription of $6.39 was far in excess of any other Lodge in the Lowell Twelfth Masonic District and was exceeded in the State by only four Lodges.
Members of William Sewall Gardner Lodge who served in the armed forces in World War II were Brothers Rufus H. Gould, Carl F. McKittrick, Vernon R. McKittrick, William D. Phelps and Asa R. Plaisted.
Presently serving with the Marine Corps in Korea is Brother Kenneth Edmund Vinal.
On September 10, 1943, in commemoration of the founding of the Lodge, specially designed lapel buttons were presented to all charter members who at that time still retained membership in William Sewall Gardner Lodge. The buttons were of gold and carried on their face a facsimile of the Lodge seal, with the entire button circled in blue. They were designed by Wor. Bro. John G. Parker. Fourteen of the twenty-one charter members entitled were present at the meeting to share in the personal presentations, while buttons were sent to the seven who were absent. The first button was presented to R.W. Harry G. Pollard by R.W. Garfield A. Davis.
An incident worthy of historical notation occurred on March 9, 1945, when, at a meeting of the 32nd Lodge of Instruction, Most Worshipful Samuel H. Wragg presented the Joseph Warren Medal to Worshipful Richard Brabrook Walsh. It was in recognition of his service to the Craft in preparing the material which comprised a large part of the manual of instruction adopted for use in Lodges of Instruction throughout the state. His response to the presentation will forever have a special niche in the archives of William Sewall Gardner Lodge . . . "Most Worshipful Sir and Brethren, I am dumfounded."
Continuing the upward spiral, at the annual meeting in June of 1945, savings bank deposits totalled $3,136.25.
In 1948 the four McKittrick brothers, Bertrand, Raymond, Carl and Vernon, presented to the Lodge bound copies of the by-laws in memory of their father, Bro. Francis George Wellington McKittrick, who died in 1946. The attractive booklets also contained a biographical sketch of William Sewall Gardner, a Lodge history, lists of charter members, officers installed at the constitution, and an alphabetical roster of members as of February 27, 1948.
At the regular communication on September 10, 1948, the Lodge dedicated a new Bible in memory of Worshipful Bro. Walsh. The Great Light had been purchased with money voluntarily contributed by the Brethren and is a fitting memorial to our eighth presiding Master.
In 1949, in response to a request by Rev. Bro. Elton W. Brown, who had left his Chelmsford Church to take up missionary work in the Philippine Islands, the Lodge contributed some $60 towards the purchase of an organ to be installed in the reconstructed Temple of Sarangani Lodge No. 50, Davao City, Mindanao. Their previous Temple had been destroyed during the Japanese invasion of the Islands in 1942.
Since its constitution, William Sewall Gardner Lodge has had twelve 33rd Degree Masons in its membership, as well as thirteen High Priests of Mt. Horeb Royal Arch Chapter, thirteen Illustrious Masters of Ahasuerus Council, twenty Commanders of Pilgrim Commandery, seven Thrice Potent Masters of Lowell Lodge of Perfection, two Sovereign Princes of Lowell Council, Princes of Jerusalem, and eight Most Wise Masters of Mount Calvary Chapter of Rose Croix.
It long has been a tradition in William Sewall Gardner Lodge that every candidate shall receive full and adequate instruction in the principles of Freemasonry and that all of its activities shall be directed towards the objects of the Craft. This was well set forth by William Sewall Gardner himself when he declared: "We shall dedicate ourselves to the conservation of the beauty of our ritual and the cultivation of a spirit of good-fellowship among our members."
In the furtherance of these ideals, we point with pride to the passage of a motion at the communication of February 8, 1929, when it was voted that William Sewall Gardner Lodge request of the Most Worshipful Grand Master a dispensation to form a Lodge of Instruction in the Lowell Twelfth Masonic District (now known and designated as the 32nd Lodge of Instruction).
Ever mindful of the value of good-fellowship and friendly communion and motivated by a strong belief that only in a Lodge of comparatively small numerical proportions can such be obtained, the Lodge, on October 12, 1945, voted to change the by-laws by limiting the overall membership to 150, with the additional provision that no more than nine initiates would be accepted in any given year. In May of 1952 Grand Lodge approved another change in the by-laws whereby the membership limit was raised from 150 to 200, but maintaining the same prohibition on the number of initiates.
Friendships have been built up in William Sewall Gardner Lodge that are as enduring as the rocks of time and most of them have come into full flower through the medium of Sunday night get-togethers. In respect to these, our Lodge is unique. They were instituted by Richard Brabrook Walsh, our eighth Worshipful Master, in 1934, when his home at 197 Parkview Avenue, Lowell, became the incubator of all of our plans and the focal point of most of our activities outside of the Temple itself. There all candidates, their sponsors and teachers met on Sunday evenings to receive instruction in the degree lectures, and there, also, was born the tremendous spirit of comradeship that has been a hallmark of our success down through the years.
Brabrook loved those Sunday evenings and allowed nothing to interfere with them. As time went on and their popularity grew, he converted his basement into a lounge, known and dedicated as the William Sewall Gardner room. Until his death on April 24, 1948, he maintained it for the Lodge and none who entered ever left without a feeling that he had reconsecrated himself to a spirit of brotherly love and affection.
William Sewall Gardner Landmark No. 1: One Hundred and Ninety-Seven Parkview Avenue, Lowell, Massachusetts.
In the minds of all of us, a perpetuation of our extra-curricular Masonic way of life was necessary, and it is to the everlasting credit of Worshipful Joseph Edgar Staveley, our thirteenth presiding Master, that he picked up the torch and held it high. Almost overnight, the focal point was transferred to the Staveley home in Chelmsford, where another William Sewall Gardner room has been carved out of the upper reaches of the Staveley barn, and where on Sunday evenings the same questions are being asked and the same answers returned as before.
William Sewall Gardner Landmark No. 2: Twenty-Eight Westford Road, Chelmsford Centre, Massachusetts.
Since its inception, William Sewall Gardner Lodge has endeavored to maintain a balance between ritualistic and social activities. It is our boast that every member knows every other by his first name. The adhesion of the cement of brotherly love and affection has been strong.
In the following paragraphs we will try to give a summation of our out-of-lodge-room peregrinations, as well as our usually successful attempts to satisfy man's innate desire for good food and plenty of it.
W. S. G. began to "go social" in 1936. The motivation is more or less veiled in antiquity, but once we tried out our fledgling wings and found ourselves airborne, we took off. We have taken our fun where we found it, and for the most part, we have found it wherever we happened to be.
It would seem that we adopted four principal avenues of escape from the humdrum. They were Leap Year parties, outings, public installations and family-style picnics.
Our first attempt at organized hilarity was in 1936, when our initial Leap Year party was held on February 29 at the Nashua Country Club. Bert McKittrick was the Master. Records are scanty, but Coates has chronicled the fact that "the fun was fast and furious" and that Walsh, Woodies and Gordy Williams set the tempo with hair-raising races across a highly polished floor on overturned chairs. That also was the year of the introduction of "the door that leads nowhere."
The year 1940, again being divisible by four, naturally fell into the Leap Year pattern and on February 29 we again gathered at the Nashua Club. This time we had things better organized and a special notice was printed containing "Rules of Behavior and Information," plus a dissertation on the menu. The "Rules of Behavior" included such pertinent information as: "Brethren are expected to keep their wives entertained and happy, but wives must remember that Masonry permits no distinction among friends and brothers."
It was in 1940, also, that we inaugurated our famous giveaway routine, which during subsequent years included eight-foot stepladders, live rabbits, patented mouse traps, steak and butter when they were hard to get, roses frozen into punch bowls of gleaming ice, non-skid zippers and foolproof handy ticket kits. The McKittrick brand of color movies also made its appearance in that year.
In 1944 we were back again, this time to receive and greet William Sewall Gardner, "in person," who watched the proceedings of the evening with benign eye from his wheel chair vantage point. While the Most Worshipful Sir had little if anything to say, for the years were heavy upon him, there could be detected on his kindly face from time to time, little wrinkles of pride, mirth and satisfaction.
Kings and queens were crowned, professional entertainment and orchestral music formed background for the fun, while through it all, year after year, rained down the always present Parker snowballs. Happy days!
Charter members were toasted in champagne at the 20th anniversary dinner in 1948, where gardenias for the ladies, bushels of apples, filet mignon, rope skipping, Virginia reels and a twenty-candle birthday cake all contributed to a memorable evening.
The 1952 Leap Year party found us at the Andover Country Club, with an attendance of more than 200 and an evening as crowded with surprising events as was the dance floor with gliding couples.
Public installations, ladies' nights and after-meeting programs of entertainment have rounded out the indoor social cycle.
Big outings from little cookouts grew. Steaks first were broiled on the Staveley Terrace on July 8, 1942, and the die was cast. The experiment was repeated the following year, but in 1944, full scale summer outings were inaugurated and have been yearly features ever since, first at the McKittrick hideaway on Cobbett's Pond, and beginning in 1946, at Brig's estate at Long-Sought-For. If space would allow, each is worthy of a chapter of its own, but let it suffice that never have horse shoes been thrown with such abandon, never has the Hanson brand of green corn been equalled in succulence, never have steamed clams tasted so good ($12 for half a barrel), never has there been, anywhere, anytime, such aqua-planing or demonstrations of seamanship, and never have men had better times together.
Later on came the family picnics at the French cottage on the knee-deep sands of Happy Hampton, with the temperature of the Atlantic at thirty-two, give or take a degree either way, but always the sort of informal, happy get-togethers that have been the hallmark of our social prestige.
The truism that William Sewall Gardner Lodge and good food are synonymous dates back to our early years. We have run the gastronomical gamut from ham and beans to venison steaks and caviar and back again, with detours for whole broiled salmon, exotic dishes from the Scandinavian Peninsula, salads of our chef's own tossing, honey from our own hives, lobsters, fried chicken and the choicest of meats. Whatever we wanted, we got.
Names come crowding to mind :
- Myer, with his jewel of Grand Commissar
- the Dahl touch on the Smorgasbord
- steaks from Herm Gordon and the Demogenes
- Martin, Osborn, Walsh, and his man Friday, Ray Hoag
- Bert McKittrick and his bow and arrow
- Ed. Russell, Staveley, Tommy Brooks, Don McNeill, Ray McKittrick, Henry Walker
. . . we could go on and on and on. Thanks for the memories!
And so in every respect, a review of the highlights of our first twenty-five years brings to the surface irrefutable evidence that William Sewall Gardner Lodge is ready for the future and for whatever the years may bring. We may view with pride our propagation of true Masonic principles, and as we contemplate the past, we are content that upon this firm foundation future generations of Friends and Brothers may build 'till time shall be no more.
50TH ANNIVERSARY HISTORY, FEBRUARY 1978
From Proceedings, Page 1978-4:
By Brother Ralph H. House.
(For the history of William Sewall Gardner Lodge for the period from 1928 to 1953, refer to 1953 Mass. 79-93)
On Tuesday, March 31, 1953, William Sewall Gardner Lodge held a special communication to celebrate its 25th anniversary. The gala affair had been long in preparation. Right Worshipful Ralph P. Coates, Secretary at that time, had reviewed the records of the Lodge over the past quarter century and had turned his notes over to Worshipful Arthur F. Woodies, who in turn compiled a history of the first 25 years of William Sewall Gardner Lodge. The Most Worshipful Grand Master of Masons in Massachusetts, Thomas S. Roy, had acknowledged an invitation to attend almost a year before the event took place. By the Fall of 1952, Brother Thomas Brooks had completed the arrangements for the evening's entertainment. Ten committees had been appointed and each had performed in an exemplary manner; the success of the affair was a tribute to the fraternal cooperation and hard work of the Lodge members.
One interesting highlight from that evening: During the ceremonies, the Grand Master asked that Worshipful Charles A. Hosmer be presented to the East. The request could not be obeyed immediately because Worshipful Hosmer could not be found; it seems his wife had taken ill and he had left the Temple to take her home. A frantic telephone call to the Hosmer home started Worshipful Charles on his way back to the Temple. When he had finally arrived and was presented to the Grand Master, he was told that the Grand Master wished to present him with a "slight token of esteem for his service to Masonry". This "slight token", of course, was the Joseph Warren Medal. Worshipful Hosmer was raised in William North Lodge, was a Past Master of Trinity Lodge of Clinton, an affiliated member of William Sewall Gardner Lodge and also was a Past Master of the 32nd Lodge of Instruction and had been Secretary of that organization for many years.
He had been recommended for the Warren Medal by William North Lodge and that Lodge and our own took great pride that Worshipful Brother Hosmer was so honored at such a momentous occasion.
In addressing the Lodge and its guests, the Grand Master noted that William Sewall Gardner Lodge had proved itself to be "A very significant part" of a very great group. He praised the Lodge on its preparations for its anniversary, stating that no better preparations had been made for any anniversary. His concluding remarks pointed out the main lessons of Freemasonry: "Do your best and do it now; live your best and live it now — that is my wish for William Sewall Gardner Lodge."
Many other addresses were given by Masonic dignitaries, but the speech that most typified the type of Lodge William Sewall Gardner was that given by Worshipful Arthur F. Woodies, entitled "Not In The Printed History". Woodies spoke of the many anecdotes and organized hilarity that has long been associated with William Sewall Gardner Lodge. Among his topics were our venture into the keeping of bees and the infamous "hot dog" episode; it is not recorded whether he mentioned Mrs. Foote. The fellowship and good times enjoyed by the Lodge members, along with a sincere dedication to proper Masonic instruction and an unselfish willingness to come to the aid of a brother Mason or his family were the ingredients which made William Sewall Gardner Lodge the friendliest, most prosperous and proudest Lodge in the Lowell District. It is to the credit of the Lodge that this is as true in 1978 as it was in 1953.
Needless to say, the anniversary celebration was a grand success; the dancing continued until midnight and all present enjoyed themselves greatly.
As the Lodge entered its second quarter century, it continued to grow and prosper. In September of 1954, the dedication of its members was once again evidenced. For the first time since the war (when all Lodges were asked to close by 10:00 P.M.), a concentrated effort was made to close the Lodge as soon as possible because an unfriendly lady named Edna was scheduled to strike Lowell and it was felt that all brethren should be allowed to get home before the hurricane hit. (The weathermen, as usual, were wrong: Edna hit Lowell the next afternoon, bringing the largest rainfall ever recorded in the area at that time. No damage was done to the Temple, but a large elm tree in front of the Temple was so damaged that it had to be removed). Before the Lodge closed at 9:00 P.M., Worshipful Brother Ed Russell mentioned that, since his birthday happened to fall on the same day as ex-President Hoover's, he had sent a birthday card to President Hoover; Hoover responded by sending Worshipful Brother Russell a copy of a speech he had given!
The following month, on October 8th, William Sewall Gardner Lodge made its first presentation of 25-year pins. Seventeen of those eligible were present to receive their pins.
Many of the members of the Lodge resided in Chelmsford; in fact, at several points in our fifty-year history over 50 per cent of the members were from Chelmsford. This caused some concern in 1955 because the Town of Chelmsford was to celebrate its Tercentennial on June 10, 11 and 12, and the Lodge's annual installation was to be held on June 10th, the second Friday of the month. Most Worshipful Whitfield W. Johnson, Grand Master of Masons in Massachusetts, was kind enough to issue a special dispensation to the Lodge so that its regular meeting could be held a few days earlier, on June 6th, since many members of the Lodge were working on the Tercentennial celebration.
The incoming Master, Brother Lucian H. Burns, who had for many years been principal of the Chelmsford High School was only one of many members who would have been inconvenienced had not the dispensation been given. As it turned out, Worshipful Burns was doubly grateful because he was installed by Worshipful Edward Russell, who also happened to be the first Chelmsford man to speak to him when he came to Chelmsford a number of years before.
A FAMILY AFFAIR
No history of William Sewall Gardner Lodge could be complete without mention of the McKittrick Family. For fifty years, the history of William Sewall Gardner Lodge and that of the McKit-trick's have been intertwined. Our oldest living Past Master, Worshipful Bertrand A. McKittrick, a Charter Member of the Lodge, served as its first Junior Steward. Of the fifty-three Charter Members, Worshipful Bert is the only one still active in the Lodge and may be the only Charter Member still living.
June 8, 1942 could well have been termed a McKittrick family affair. Receiving their Third Degrees were Brothers (in both senses of the term) Vernon Russell McKittrick and Carl Francis McKittrick. They were raised by their brother, Worshipful Bert McKittrick. The Junior Deacon present was another brother, Raymond W. McKittrick, later to become the eleventh Master of William Sewall Gardner Lodge. Brother-in-law Thomas W. Brooks was stationed at the First Gate. Watching from the sidelines was Brother Frank G. W. McKittrick, the father of the brood.
Brothers Carl and Vernon were two of the five members of William Sewall Gardner Lodge to serve in World War II.
Several of the Lodge's early outings were held at the McKittrick summer home on Corbett's Pond. For many years, the Lodge enjoyed an annual venison feast, provided by "Eagle Eye" Bert and his deer hunting club. Many of the Lodge programs were shown through the courtesy of this fine family.
In 1946, when Brother Lucian Burns recommended that all members of the Lodge be given a copy of William Sewall Gardner Lodge's By-Laws, the brothers McKittrick kindly offered to have them printed if the By-Laws were properly prepared for them. The result, attractively bound By-Laws which also contained a sketch of William Sewall Gardner, a history of the Lodge, a list of Charter Members, a list of officers installed at the Lodge's Constitution, and an alphabetical roster of members as of February 27, 1948, was presented at the 20th Anniversary party of the Lodge. The booklets were dedicated to the memory of their father who had died two years earlier. Worshipful Bert was honored in 1965 by being made a 33rd Degree Mason.
Throughout the years, the McKittricks have been a vital part of our Lodge. Carl became Treasurer of the Lodge in 1943 and continued in this office for many years with only a brief interruption, a result of his World War II service. As one might suspect, his duties were filled during his absence by Brother Bert. The generosity and fellowship of the McKittrick family have earned them a place in our hearts.
Since 1936, social functions have played an important part in William Sewall Gardner Lodge. Once given a taste of frivolity, the Lodge has been continually striving to provide a good time for all.
Because of the importance of February 29th to the history of our Lodge, a Leap Year Party was held on that date in 1936. It was a success and marked the beginning of a tradition continued until 1952. On March 29, 1955, we held our first Ladies Night. The following year, the Leap Year Party served as our Ladies Night. In 1957, Ladies Night was termed the Lodge's "seventh so-called Leap Year Party". Over recent years, William Sewall Gardner's annual Ladies Nights have been one of the main highlights on many a social calendar.
Another social highlight is also an annual important occasion: the installation of officers. In 1951, installation ceremonies were made semi-public with the wives and sweethearts of the members invited to witness the installation and to partake of the traditional lobster salad, asparagus and strawberry shortcake feast. In recent years, the soaring price of lobster has forced the Lodge to change its traditional fare. Also an annual tradition at each installation is the impressive display of the Lodge's lights.
As traditional as the display of lights were the comments on the tenderness of the asparagus or lack of same written in the meeting minutes by our secretary of many years, Worshipful Daniel Hanson. Daniel C. Hanson: Farmer, Teacher, Principal, Mason, a man whose Masonic qualities were the guide for many members and whose distinguished Masonic career was highlighted in 1973 when the Grand Master recognized him with a Grand Lodge Citation.
Usually after the Lodge is closed, the new Master holds a reception, some of which have lasted to the wee hours of the morning and have reinforced the well-known social spirit of William Sewall Gardner Lodge.
Outings, too, are looked forward to every year. Beginning in 1942, with a steak fry at Worshipful Joseph Staveley's terrace, the outings have progressed onward ever since. The following year, Worshipful Joe repeated the affair and the Lodge was hooked. The next few years saw the outings held at the summer place of Worshipful Bert McKittrick. In 1947, the outings moved to Brother Errington Brigham's "Grand Hotel" at Long-Sought-For Pond; there they stayed until 1965, when the outings moved to the grounds of the Tyngsboro Country Club. This was also the year of the infamous baseball game: Secretary Worshipful Daniel C. Hanson quit counting the score after it had reached 51-47.
The outings have been held at the Tyngsboro Country Club almost every year since then. They have progressed from simple steak frys to a lobster gourmet's feast, with a recent addition of fish chowder made from the annual haul from the Lodge's fishing trip. The outings have produced many a horseshoe champion and many a sore muscle from volleyball. Over the years, they have included everything from shuffleboard to egg-throwing contests, and from raffles and games to the well-reknown trunks of many a car.
In 1972, during the reign of Worshipful James McNeil, a new twist was added to the annual outing. After several years of losing money and less than satisfactory food, the officers and members started cooking and serving the food. This change has featured uniformly good food, but a completely unpredictable serving time. 1977 proved to be no exception for the food was, once again, worth waiting, and waiting, and waiting for.
Other activities that have filled our social calendar over the past fifty years have been family outings, Christmas parties, and a host of special events — including a "roast" of Worshipful Bert McKittrick.
Worshipful Charlie Mitchum started an outing in 1973, that, for some unexplained reason has become an annual affair — the annual fishing trip. In 1973, an intrepid band of 32 fishermen boarded a deep sea fishing boat in weather approaching gale conditions. This venture produced two tiny fish caught by Worshipful Bob Wetmore and at least 15 cases of acute seasickness. 1977 made up for several years of meager catches when over 1500 pounds were caught, according to the fishermen. However, this has not been verified by any impartial witnesses.
KEEPING BEES AND OTHER TRIVIA
The mid-Forties marked the beginning of the Lodge's attempts at keeping bees. Worshipful Brother Richard Brabrook Walsh had entered into a contract with Worshipful Brother Walter B. French of Kilwinning Lodge. Worshipful Brabrook agreed to furnish the location of the hives and to take care of any legal matters, especially law suits; in return, Worshipful Brother French would give William Sewall Gardner Lodge a hive of bees and guarantee that the hive would give at least 25 pounds of honey as a reward. After waiting more than a reasonable time, no honey appeared, giving rise to friendly suspicions. Had Kilwinning absconded with William Sewall Gardner's honey? No, according to Worshipful French; in fact, that Kilwinning bees had tried to enter the William Sewall Gardner hive to do whatever it is that bees do, but were promptly expelled. For various reasons known best to the bees they had produced only enough honey to keep the hive over the winter.
In June of 1945, Worshipful French accepted the position of Bee Master and promptly appointed Worshipful Walsh as Deputy Master of the Bees, giving him a bee mask and gloves. Worshipful Walsh accepted, vowing that he would never go near the bees.
Late in 1945, Worshipful French joined William Sewall Gardner Lodge by affiliation and was often referred to in our records as "Walter Bee French". His moment of glory finally came at the meeting of November 8, 1946, although he was not present to enjoy it. The bees had finally entered into the Masonic spirit and had produced enough honey so that every member present was able to take a full jar home. It was the unanimous opinion of those present that Worshipful Brother French was a pretty good fellow, after all. As a matter of fact, the bees had done such an outstanding job that two jars of honey were awarded as consolation prizes at a drawing held at the next Lodge meeting.
A postscript of the bee affair came at the Lodge's 20th Anniversary and Leap Year Party on February 27, 1948. Among the activities was a jumproping contest for the ladies with the first prize to be a jar of honey donated by Worshipful Brother French. The winner? Miss Patricia French, who gracefully accepted her father's honey.
While the members of the Lodge were anxiously awaiting the first drops of honey, our infamous "hot dog" episode took place. The Lodge had agreed to furnish refreshments for the 1946 installation of DeMolay officers. Worshipful Brother Walsh had made arrangements with a large meat packing plant to obtain 600 hot dogs for the installation. Somewhere along the way, a super-snafu happened and 600 pounds of franks were delivered. That is enough to feed over 2500 persons and only 240 boys and guests were to be present. Panic ensued, much hair was pulled, efforts were made to pass the buck. Finally, Masonic ingenuity and last minute maneuvering by Brother Meyer "The Grand Commissar" Lipchitz enabled William Sewall Gardner Lodge to unload the extra franks on the hungry populace of Lowell; just how "The Grand Commissar" managed this feat must remain one of the most sacred secrets of Freemasonry.
A discussion of the antics of William Sewall Gardner could hardly be complete without mention of our genial hostess, Mrs. Juliette Foote. Completely mythical, our Mrs. Foote must have raised the eyebrows of many a brother's wife as she read the Lodge bulletins of the Forties. Whence Mrs. Foote came is not recorded (or admitted), and the least said about her imagined activities the better. Seldom was there a Lodge bulletin issued at that time that did not contain a summons from Mrs. Foote, asking certain members to meet her after a Lodge meeting, or a rehearsal, or during an outing. Her alleged proclivity for members of the Lodge and her genial display of affection played an important part in the comradery of that time. She vanished into retirement just as mysteriously as she appeared, although she did send a recorded message to the Lodge's 1948 Leap Year Party. Present rumors have it that some members of the Lodge are at this very moment trying to coax her out of retirement.
A Lodge is as good as its members are and William Sewall Gardner, if judged by that standard, must be a very great Lodge indeed. Fifty years can hold a lot of memories. Space restricts mention of many persons who have contributed to make our Lodge great, but names, both past and present, bring about fond memories. Meyer Lipchitz, "The Grand Commissar", a chef supreme who was taken from us all too soon; Ralph Forter Coates, who wore Masonic honors as others might wear an overcoat, Master, District Deputy Grand Master, Secretary, friend; Worshipful Lucien Burns, a warm and honorable man who took quite a ribbing about being a teetotaler; Peter Fitts, who was a Junior Steward in the line when his life was so tragically taken in an automobile accident at the age of 32; Henry Sykes, whose flowers often graced the Lodge; Reverend Brother John Sargent, as gentle a man as has ever lived; Brother Ed Hood, who has the fastest and firmest handshake this side of anywhere; Brother Leslie Secor, our first Secretary, who on retirement from that post, as platitude after platitude was being heaped upon him, wrote: "Worshipful Muzzey talked as usual, so did Worshipful Brother Derby"; Worshipful Richard Brabrook Walsh, who loved Masonry as much as we loved him and who was memorialized by the members of the Lodge with a Holman used at our altar; Victor Y. Dahl, grand traveller; Reverend Elton W. Brown, who left the area in 1949 to take up missionary work in the Philippines and who received funds from the Lodge money to buy an organ for a Lodge Temple destroyed by the Japanese during the 1942 invasion; Worshipful Dan Hanson, another man of generosity and devotion to the Lodge; Worshipful Charles Mitchum, a whiz at reciting ritual; Worshipful Ralph E. House, sponsor of many a member into the Lodge; Right Worshipful Norman Stavely; Ed Defoe; the Pollards; Hugh Titterington, whose aprons are as bright as his personality; the Wetmores; Berton A. This-sell, a Charter Member whose name was pasted into the By-Laws because he was working in Washington at that time; Jere Haskell; the memories go on and on, and will continue for the next fifty years and beyond.
At this point, the writer demands a point of personal privilege. In the first paragraph, I reported that a history of William Sewall Gardner Lodge is an autobiography of a family. This historical sketch has been difficult to write; a family has its important days and its ordinary days; it has many anecdotes that help to bind it together firmly.
Although this history has rambled from point to point, and from story to story, it is not meant as a complete history. Many of our honors have not been touched upon and many of our good times will remain unrecorded. William Sewall Gardner has held an important place in Lowell Masonry and as a Lodge we have done many important things. But our history, our true history, occurs daily, every time we shake a brother's hand, every time we help one another. For this above all is what Masonry and William Sewall Gardner Lodge is all about. With the blessings of God, we have passed our first fifty years as a family. As in any other family, many of our brethren have gone to the Celestial Lodge beyond; we have grieved and have remembered and have felt grateful for the time that we were allowed to have together. We endure amidst bounty.
We have been fortunate to have as our brothers men who could be termed great by any standard. Few of us are great, however, but to a man, William Sewall Gardner Lodge is composed of good men using the principles of our order to be better men. For all of that we are thankful and look forward to the future with confidence and faith and the knowledge that our brothers will make the journey easier.
75TH ANNIVERSARY HISTORY, MAY 2003
From Proceedings, Page 2003-48:
Many pages of history have been written about William Sewall Gardner Lodge and William Sewall Gardner, the man. In trying to extract that part of the history, if I wanted to present this evening in a reasonable length of time, I had to keep in mind that the one lesson I have learned in Masonry is not to stand between Masons and their social hour for any length of time. With that in mind, and the permission of the Grand Master, I shall continue.
In 1928, the membership of the four Lowell Lodges had reached close to 2800 members. At that time, the Lodges were meeting at the First Universalist Church on Hurd Street due to the Masonic Apartments being burned two years earlier. This brought great concern by the Grand Master, M. W. Frank L. Simpson. "The primary function of the Masonic Lodge and the Craft is to train its members to be benevolent men, to cultivate the social virtues and to propagate knowledge of the art. No greater service can be rendered to the Craft than to stimulate a sentiment for more Lodges and smaller Lodges".
Perhaps the one man that can be credited with the creation of William Sewall Gardner Lodge is Brother Lucius A. Derby. Bro. Derby was a member and Secretary of Pentucket Lodge, and who would become the Lodge's second Worshipful Master, and the first recipient of the coveted Joseph Warren Medal in the Lowell area.
On February 29, 1928, a meeting was held at Hurd Street, attended by fifty of the fifty-three Masons who had signed a petition for the purpose of forming a new Lodge in the Lowell 12th Masonic District, and to select a slate of officers to present to the Most Worshipful Grand Master. Bro. Derby made a motion that the new Lodge would be named William Sewall Gardner Lodge.
Bro. Gardner, a local attorney and Alderman of the City of Lowell in 1860-1861, went on to be the Most Worshipful Grand Master in Massachusetts in 1869-1871. Bro. Gardner received his degrees in Ancient York Lodge in 1852, and three years later in 1855 was elected its Worshipful Master. In 1875, he was appointed to the Bench of the Superior Court and elevated to the Supreme Judicial Court in 1885 by the then Governor Robinson.
At the 101st Regular Communication in 1938, Most Worshipful Arthur Dow Prince, before an audience that included fifty Past Masters from the Lowell 12th Masonic District speaking on the contributions of Masonry to Lowell and Brother Gardner, said of William Sewall Gardner that he was "the greatest Grand Master the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts ever had, and one of the greatest in the history of Masonry".
On March 31, 1928, a Special Communication was held for the purpose of receiving a dispensation from the Massachusetts Grand Lodge. After the officers were installed into their stations by the District Deputy Grand Master, Right Worshipful Warren A. Goddard, the District Deputy Grand Marshal, after giving the proclamation, expressed his pleasure at being instrumental in the birth of a new Masonic Lodge, and gave his best wishes to the new "lusty Masonic infant". That description has been taken to heart over the years.
The square and compasses that rest on the Holy Bible this evening were gifts from Right Worshipful Harry G. Pollard in 1928.
It is interesting to note that at a meeting in 1929, at the request of the Mayor of Lowell, a committee was formed with other Lodges in Lowell for the purpose of relieving the unemployment problem that plagued the city at that time. Throughout the history of the Order, Masons have given their time and talents unselfishly in service to their community and their fellow man.
The Lodge devoted itself to Masonic education, and in 1929, received dispensation from the Grand Master to form a Lodge of Instruction, later known as the 32nd Lodge of Instruction, and it became the model for the Lodge of Instruction system throughout the Commonwealth. Today, seventy-five years later, after the absence of the Lodge of Instruction for several years, we are returning to it. This shows the wisdom and dedication that our forefathers had in promoting Masonic Education.
Over the years many Masonic leaders have been raised in William Sewall Gardner Lodge: five District Deputy Grand Masters, nine Masters of the Lodge of Instruction. Many have gone on to Scottish Rite and York Rite, and became leaders in those bodies.
Until recent times, Ladies Nights were held with 150-200 people present. Table Lodges with 100-150 Brethren in attendance. Who can forget the Polish Table Lodge by Worshipful Ted Panek in 1990, an event that will go down in history as one of the most unique Table Lodges? Most Worshipful Edgar Darling was present with over 100 Brethren. There were fishing trips to Gloucester for the ingredients of the fish chowder at our annual clambake, an event that any proper Mason would attend.
In 1978, shortly before our Fiftieth Anniversary, we had the "Blizzard of 78". The City of Lowell was closed and the Lodge had a communication scheduled. After frantic telephone calls to Grand Lodge, Worshipful Bob LaPierre was able to change the location to Thomas Talbot Lodge in Billerica. It turned out to be a memorable night with a Third Degree and dinner.
In 1980, the Joseph Warren Medal was presented to Worshipful Ralph E. House, Master in 1964-1965 for his outstanding contributions to the Lodge and Masonry. Over 200 Masons and Ladies attended the event, as well as Brother Ralph's family. Brother Ralph was responsible for more candidates into the Lodge then any other member before or since. He was a building contractor in Chelmsford and it is said that in order to work for Ralph or to have him build a house for you it was required that you join the Lodge. Of course, none of this can be substantiated.
In 1981, while inspecting as a favor the steeple in the Unitarian Church which housed the town clock in Chelmsford Center, he fell to his death. In 1982, a scholarship fund was set up in his name, and to date, over $30,000 in scholarships have been awarded. One of the major fund raising events for this scholarship is the participation in the annual Chelmsford fourth of July celebration which takes place in front of that very same church.
In 1990, the Lodge began to feel the effects of the lack of candidates sponsored by Brother Ralph, and we had to reexamine its future. The Past Masters were determined not to let the Lodge go dark, and once again assumed the responsibility of the chairs.
Thanks to Right Worshipful Roy Leone from Thomas Talbot Lodge, Worshipful Alfred Morin and Worshipful James Baxter from Wamesit Lodge, Worshipful Brothers Ed Acheson, Bob Wetmore, Bob LaPierre, Bruce Sargent and Herb Mitchell who served four years, the Lodge was put on the road to recovery with this kind of dedication and support.
In 2001, Worshipful Robert Wetmore received the Joseph Warren Medal for his many years of service to the Lodge. For a number of years he was the head chef for our annual clambake, and he has served many culinary delights at our regular meetings here in the Masonic Center. He and his Brother, Right Worshipful Ronald Wetmore, have spearheaded the Ralph E. House Scholarship Committee from its inception to the present day.
In 2002, after serving twenty years as Chaplain, four years as Master and two years as District Deputy Grand Master of the Lowell 12 Masonic District, Right Worshipful Herb Mitchell was awarded the Joseph Warren Medal with more than 150 Masons and ladies in attendance. Today, though our numbers are less, our hearts and goals are as large as that memorable day in 1928, when this Lodge was called a "lusty Masonic infant".
Many pages of history have been written about William Sewall Gardner Lodge, and with the good graces of God, we have many more to come.
- 1938 (Petition for reduction of fees)
GRAND LODGE OFFICERS
- Garfield A. Davis, DDGM, District 12 (Lowell), 1935, 1936; N
- Ralph P. Coates, DDGM, District 12 (Lowell), 1951, 1952; N
- Norman L. Staveley, DDGM, District 12 (Lowell), 1971, 1972; N
- Ronald W. Wetmore, DDGM, District 12 (Lowell), 1979, 1980
- Robert W. LaPierre, DDGM, District 12 (Lowell), 1989, 1990; N
- Herbert W. Mitchell, DDGM, District 12 (Lowell), 1999, 2000