Wappingers Lodge No 671
June 16, 1967
For an organization to celebrate a hundred years of continuous active experience may be considered unusual by some. Doubly so if it is an organization which does not seek out new members, is founded on moral precepts, espouses no doctrine or dogma and seeks only to propagate the principles of brotherhood, relief, and truth. Many groups with lofty goals have not survived their founders.
The mystery is partly understood when one considers the parent bodies of Freemasonry which trace documented history back several times a hundred years.
Why, then is it not unusual for scores of Masonic lodges to be celebrating their centennials in the late 60s and early 70s? The answer must be found in the United States of over 100 years ago. Colonial and pre-colonial, America was essentially Protestant and rural. Men in and out of public life were strongly influenced by Masonic teachings. This may be seen in our greatest historic documents such as the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.
With the Industrial revolution and the urbanization of American life, masonry went into an eclipse. Strong divisive forces shattered America with the Civil War. Yet this bloodiest of all internal conflicts demonstrated on hundreds of occasions that however men differed on economic, social, political, or religious grounds – even unto death – a common belief in a high moral code, when mutually recognized, could result in Brotherhood and relief, even if truth were at issue. This feeling permeated post-Civil War America and resulted in the founding of hundreds of Masonic lodges; scores in upstate New York – previously a center of anti-Masonic feelings.
Thus it was that eight men: B.S. Stradley, W.J. Brown, C.W. Hignell, T.W. Goring, Thomas Dawson, John Hunter, George Deacon, and S.R. Brown, Master masons all – met and petitioned the Grand Lodge of the State of New York to establish a lodge in Wappingers Falls. It pleased the Grand Lodge to approve this petition and a charter empowering them to meet and work as Wappingers Lodge No. 671 f. & A.M., was granted on June 16, 1867. John Hunter served as the first Master and continued until 1872 while other members demonstrated their proficiency in order to serve in the Master’s chair.
Meetings were held for many years at Mansion Hall on Main Street in the Village of Wappingers Falls. At the time the Lodge moved into its quarters in the old Masonic Temple on Mill Street, the Lodge was composed of 90 members. In the sixty years intervening, the Lodge has more than tripled its membership. This expansion coupled with a proportionate growth in the membership of Cascade Chapter Order of Eastern Star, with which we share facilities and members, forced us to look for more suitable quarters.
The Town of Wappinger has also experienced a fantastic growth rate from a farming area which it was for several hundred years, to a fairly heavily settled suburban area. Partially to allow the Town government the full use of the then Masonic Building which it required for its legislative, executive, and judicial functions, and partially to share in the growth and development of the town, we sold the Masonic Building to the Town and purchased a property on Myers Corners Road on which the new Temple now stands. Not needing the full acreage we were required to purchase, the major portion of the property was sold to the Wappinger Central School System for the erection of an elementary school.
Ever since before that time in August 1965, when the land was purchased, through the clearing of it, the planning and erection of the temple, its furnishings and landscaping – until now, when it is almost completed – many persons, men and women, members and friends, have contributed their time, talents, skills, and labor so that we might now erect it to God, and dedicate it to at least another century of service to the community. Already it has served as a place of fellowship, of entertainment, of refreshment, od worship. Just as Freemasonry is learned in the Lodge and practiced in the community, so stands the temple in the community to be used by the community and not just by our members.
The dreams and aspirations of many through the years, have now almost reached fruition and the temple is almost completed. It now requires only a cornerstone, and dedication, and a life of good use.