Highland Masonic Lodge A.D.1950s

Highland Masonic Lodge

Roher Block

 The Highland Masonic Lodge met on the second floor of the Rohrer Building, shown in this 1936 photo.

Posted: Wednesday, July 9, 2014 10:23 am | Updated: 10:29 am, Wed Jul 9, 2014.

The East Base Line Masonic Club, established January 14, 1953, was the seed out which grew the Highland Masonic Lodge. The first meeting of the newly formed lodge was held at the home of Roger Sprang on Lillian Lane in Highland. Elected officers were: John Bright Chairman, Guy W. Welchel, vice-chairman, and Roger Sprang secretary-treasurer and historian.

It was announced in the Feb. 4, 1955 edition of the Highland Messenger that the Grand Master of the California Masons would be presenting the club with a dispensation, after which it would be known as the Highland Masonic Lodge. The presentation was held at the Damascus Lodge Hall in San Bernardino Feb. 16, 1955. The gavel was presented to Guy Welchel as the first worshipful master.

However, the East Base Line Club continued (for an unknown period of time) to function as a "separate and distinct organization in order that it may sponsor and participate in activities that are not a part of a Masonic Lodge."

I could find no other reports in the Messenger for that year, however, the San Bernardino County Sun reported on Nov. 4, 1955, that the club had received its charter.

Welchel was succeeded by Howard G. Smith. Howard Smith died in March of 1956 and his unexpired term was filled by Ross T. Gregory. Chet Hamilton, was elected as Master of the Masonic Lodge in 1960. Mr. Hamilton was very active in the community and a well-known businessman.

The lodge was very active. One of the best supported activities was their Community Easter breakfast started in 1954. Another community breakfast was held in the Fall. These fund-raising activities helped sustain their scholarship funds.

Title to 1.5 acres of property on Ninth Street and Palm Avenue was purchased from Peyton Taylor for a Masonic temple site. Apparently, however, this did not "pan out," as subsequent newspaper reports indicated meetings were still being held at "the Masonic Hall' on Palm Avenue and Pacific Street. This, I believe, was the upper floor of the True/Rohrer Block, also referred to as the Hamilton Block.

Among their many activities, in 1963, the Highland Masonic Lodge #748, F & AM laid the cornerstone for Cole Elementary School.

We find our own John Starbuck reporting lodge news and Masonic history in the Highland Community News in 1997. At this time meetings were held at the Knights of Pythias Hall on West Main Street. Records show the Pythian Sisters of Highland as sole owners of the Hall in 1986.

About 2000, the Pythian Hall, under ownership of the Highland Pythian Sisters, (or so they thought) was sold to the Masons. The Grand Temple of Pythian Sisters, California quickly set the ownership record straight, declaring that the Highland group did not have authority to sell, and the Highland Masons found themselves without a meeting place.

A petition was made to the Redlands Masonic Temple for the Highland group to join the Redlands Club. Many of the Highland members joined with the Redlands Lodge, but some joined with other groups.

© San Bernardino Masonic Lodge 2014