Arlington Heights Lodge

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Birth of the Lodge

On various occasions during the year of 1921 a number of Masons, mostly members of Fort Worth Lodge #148 and Julian Field Lodge #908, had discussed the need for a new Masonic Lodge near their homes in the Arlington Heights area.

Bro. William F. Wortham sates that before he became a Mason, while serving in the Navy in San Francisco he noticed there were Masonic Lodges in every section of the city. When he came home he mentioned this to his father. They lived in Arlington Heights and his father would have to go downtown to attend Lodge. He says his father told him that when he and his brother Pete (Robert R. Wortham) became Masons they could do something about staring a Lodge out here in the Heights. Frank took his degrees in 1919 in Julian Field Lodge and soon began talking to others about a new Lodge in Arlington Heights.

On 14 November 1921 a group of these Masons met at the Arlington Heights School, 5100 Camp Bowie Blvd. (at that time the school of the Arlington Heights Independent School District). There were 46 masons present at this meeting and they took some very positive steps toward the formation of a new Lodge.

After electing Bro. William C Timmons of San Antonio Lodge #1079 as Chairman and Bro. William Frank Wortham of Julian Field Lodge #908 as Secretary, they then voted to petition the Grand Lodge of Texas for a Charter, and to request Fort Worth Lodge #148 to sponsor their petition by recommending to the Grand Master that he give his approval and that he encourage the Grand Lodge to approve the petition at the December 1921 Communication.

They also voted that the petition reflect their desire that the new Lodge be named “Arlington Heights Lodge”.

Their last votes of the evening were to request that the Grand Master appoint the following Brethren as Charter Officers:

Of the 46 Masons present, 41 signed the petition for a new Lodge. The remaining five each offered to assist in any way possible. Two of the 41 signers of the petition: Miles F. Wortham of J.H. Gurley Lodge #337, Waco, Texas and Bro. John W. Brown of Hiram Lodge #433, Collinsville, Texas later withdrew their names due to close ties to their present Lodges. It is to be noted that Bro. Wortham encouraged both is sons, William F. and Robert R. to join in the petition. (As this was being written in 1987 the Wortham brothers were two of the three living Charter Members. The third living Charter Member was Robert L. VanBlarcom, who has resided in California for many years.)

A Temple or Building committee was appointed consisting of Brothers Adolph Emil Hartman, Francis Hicklin Sparrow, and William C. Stonestreet. These Brethren met again on 25 November 1921 at the school for further planning. They elected Bro. Charles M. Doyle, a Past Master of Dumas Rock Lodge #267 at Brevard, North Carolina to serve as the Charter Secretary at the pleasure of the Grand Master and Brother Francis H. Sparrow, of Fort Worth Lodge #148 to serve as the Charter Treasurer at the pleasure of the Grand Master.

At this meeting Brothers Stonestreet, Sparrow and A. E. Hartman were appointed as a Temple Building Committee. Each brother who signed the petition for a charter was asked to donate $2.00 toward the expenses of obtaining a charter. It was agreed that the Lodge would contract with Panther City Lodge to lease their facilities at 808 1/2 Houston Street at a fee of $45.00 per month until such time as a new temple could be erected. Brothers Wortham, John W. Rose and a Brother George were appointed as a committee to get instruction in floor school started. We have no record of this Brother George, so we must assume he was one of the many brethren who helped with the forming of the new lodge but did not join.

The last action at this second meeting was to appoint Brothers George Thompson, M. L. Massingill and John Hancock to serve as the committee to formulate the By-Laws of the Lodge; Each of these brethren being prominent local attorneys.

On October 7th, 1987, Brother Frank Wortham stated that he and Howard Marks had taken the petitions for the charters of Panther City and Arlington Heights Lodges to Waco via the Katy Railroad. They took an early train, made many stops and it was about a four hour trip. They turned in their petitions to the committee and stayed at Grand Lodge until the committee made a favorable reccomendation and they then caught the late train home. The date would thus be 7 December, 1921 that the charter was applied for and granted.

There is in our files a letter written by Brother Frank Wortham dated 27 March, 1939, in which he recalls that he will never forget the trip to Waco with the petition for the charter.

On pages 225 and 231 of the proceedings at the 86th Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of Texas, we find that during the evening session of the second day (7 December, 1921): The report of the Committee No. 1 on Pettitions indicated that they had reviewed our petition, found it to be in order and reccomended a charter be granted. The report of the committee was then adopted by the Grand Lodge. It is to be noted that 1921 was a year of record growth in the number of lodges in Texas with 41 new lodges being instituted. Of these, 35 still existed as ov 1988, while three had merged with other lodges and three others had demised.

Grand Lodge closed on Thursday evening, 8 December, 1921 and on 9 December, 1921 the Charter for Arlington Heights Lodge #1184 Ancient Free and Accepted Masons was duly prepared and signed by the Most Worshipful Grand Master D. F. Johnson, Right Worshipful Deputy Grand Master Mike H. Thomas, Right Worshipful Grand Senior Warden G. A. Brandt, Right Worshipful Grand Junior Warden Guin Williams, Right Worshipful Grand Treasurer H. C. Talbot, and Right Worshipful Grand Secretary W. B. Pearson; and the seal of the Grand Lodge of Texas was duly affixed thereto.

The charter was conditional upon the preparation of the Panther City Lodge being completed and it authorized the move to Arlington Heights as soon as a temple could be completed. Two additional un-tyled meetings were held at the school, the first being on 15 December, 1921 at which time the brethren continued to take positive actions: They agreed to next meet on 3 January, 1922 to finalize the plans for the lodge to be instituted and set the day for the same to be on 2 January, 1922. They set the dues payments to be on an annual basis running 1 January through 31 December, payable in advance.

The building committee reported they had purchased a lot at stop 15 (4600 Camp Bowie Blvd.) for $3,750.00 and this action was approved by the brethren. The building committee did not purchase the lot in the name of the lodge. Brothers Stonestreet and Sparrow purchased the lot with their own personal funds. Deed records Tarrant County, Volume 719, Page 523. It may be of interest that Mr. W. H. Burch, from whom they purchased the land, had bought the land on 23 June, 1921 for a consideration of a Haynes automobile and a promissory note in the amount of $1,000.00.

At the 3 January, 1922 meeting the date for the lodge to be instituted was changed to Saturday evening 7 January, 1922. Brother Laney introduced a letter in regards to building of a temple and outlined three possible types of construction with cost estimates and financing plans. The letter admonished the brethren against the evils of going into debt and reccomended a simple frame building.
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We Went to Work

On 7 January, 1922, Right Worshipful A. L. Hartshorn, District Deputy Grand Master, Masonic District 64 called the meeting to order, read his commission from the Most Worshipful Grand Master D. Frank Johnson authorizing him to institute the Arlington Heights Lodge #1184 Ancient Free and Accepted Masons and to install the duly appointed officers.

Brother Hartshorn then opened a representation of the Grand Lodge of Texas and set the lodge to work. After the visitors were excused, the lodge truly did begin work. Several members spoke relative to the building of the temple, after which a motion to delay building was passed. A motion to purchase the site at stop 15 was duly seconded and passed. The first two petitions to be made a Mason were received. These two petitioners were each made a Mason on 17 February, 1922 as was the third petitioner whose petition was received on 10 January, 1922.

These three brethren are in order of their initiations:

The first meeting after being set to work was held on the second Tuesday, 10 January, 1922. The only official business was to receive the petition of Mr. Ball. It seems as if there was somewhat of a let-down after the two months of hard work in obtaining a charter and being instituted. At the fourth Tuesday Stated Meeting, four petitions for the degrees in Masonry and two petitions for affiliation were received. It was moved and seconded that the Lodge extend a vote of thanks to Brother Robert L. VanBlarcom, Junior Steward, for the beautiful altar bible which he donated to the Lodge on the evening it was instituted. the bible, well worn from its many years use on our altar remains in the archives of the lodge. Brother Sparrow was reported as ill, and flowers were sent.
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Building a Foundation

The building of the Temple really got started at the meeting on 14 February, 1922. There had been much discussion since Brother Laney's letter of 2 January in which he outlined three possible types of construction and his comments on financing. The building committee reported with plans for the Temple. Brother Wortham reported that Brother Stonestreet would deed the building site to the Lodge "free and clear" if the Lodge were to build immediately according to the plans reccomended by the building committee. Brother Hartman moved that the Lodge approve the plans, accept Brother Stonestreet's offer, and instruct the building committee to begin immediately to erect the Temple. Of course the motion was quickly seconded and passed with a near unanimous vote. Brother Wortham states there was one dissenting vote.

We must note here that although the minutes reflect that only Brother Stonestreet was donating the building site, the previously cited deed records of Tarrant County show that Brother Sparrow was an equal partner in ownership of the land. The said deed also shows a consideration of two thousand dollars; however, there is no record in the ledgers of the Lodge that any money was ever paid for the land.

It has often been told that during the depression years in the early 1930's, the Lodge sold off lots to the west of the Lodge in order to obtain funds to meet the annual mortgage payments etc. The facts are: The land involved in the purchase by Brothers Stonestreet and Sparrow was a large triangular tract encompassed by what is now Camp Bowie Blvd. on the south, Kenley St. on the west, and Dexter St. on the North, with the east being a point where Dexter and Hulen intersect. Brothers Stonestreet and Sparrow deeded to the Lodge only the eastern portion of this tract, the original west boundry of which was located about ten feet west of the sidewalk at the west end of the Temple building, in what is now known as Ray St. on the city plats. There are no entries in the deed records of Tarrant County nor in the property tax rolls to indicate the Lodge ever owned any part of the large trapezoidal tract between Ray and Kenley Streets.

The only sale of property by the Lodge was in 1933, when the Lodge deeded the west 10 feet of the east twelve and three tenths of lot 11 block 22 of the Chamberlain Arlington Heights addition, 1st filing to the City of Fort Worth to be used for street purposes only. See Tarrant County deed records volume 1183, page 539. In regards to this transaction the records of the Lodge established this was done at the request of the owner of the property to our immediate west, and that he paid $900.00 and bore all the expense of installing the curb, sidewalk and paving of the street. Lastly the $900.00 all went to the holder of the Mortgage on our property to be applied to reduction of the principle amount due.

At the February meeting the petitions of Lawrence, Bush and Ball were favorably acted upon. We Masons of today seldom hear of a Masonic Summons; however, they were rather common in the twenties and thirties and at this meeting an edict of the Grand Master was read, after which the Secretary was ordered to summons all members for Friday evening 17 February. The purpose of the summons being to make all Masons aware of the need to raise substantial funds for the Masonic Home and School of Texas. So at that meeting on 17 February a committee to raise funds for the Masonic Home and School was appointed as required by edict of the Grand Master. And, after which Lawrence, Bush and Ball were initiated as Entered Apprentice Masons.

The Lodge stayed busy with receiving petitions and conferring of degrees, and by April 14th six Entered Apprentices had passed their examinations and received their Fellowcraft degree that evening.

Two items of note occurred at the second stated meeting in April, 1922: First the By-Laws committee reported a set of By-Laws which were read and spread on the minutes, after which the committee was discharged. Second, the building committee which had on two previous occasions asked for delays, now reported final plans for the Temple and moved that we borrow $9,000.00 from Fort Worth Lodge #148. There was to have been a letter explaining the terms of the loan attached to the minutes; however, said letter is not now in the files, nor is there an indication that the motion was ever acted upon. The motion must have passed, because by the 24th of May, 1922 the foundation was down and brick were laid up to the cornerstone level, ready for the stone to be laid.

Prior to that ceremony we had conferred our first Master Masons Degrees on 12 May and the candidates were A. H. Ball, F. P. Carvey, J. R. Overstreet, and A. S. Meineche.
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Laying the Cornerstone

In the Lodge Notices of the Fort Worth Record, dated 23 May, 1922 we find this:
"Stated Meeting Arlington Heights Lodge #1184 Tuesday 4:30pm 808 1/2 Houston Street, 5:30pm laying cornerstone in new building, 8:30pm Business Meeting 808 1/2 Houston Street. Chas. W. Laney WM, C. M. Doyle Secy."

In the Lodge minutes we find that by edict of the Most Worshipful Grand Master D. F. Johnson, Arlington Heights was authorized to lay the cornerstone of their new temple in public ceremony with the Right Worshipful Sam P. Cochran presiding. Therefore a special meeting of the Grand Lodge of Texas was opened on Tuesday 23 May, 1922 with the following brethren filling the several stations:

Although not mentioned in the minutes we note in the newspaper articles that Brother C. A. Bonnett, Charter Member and Senior Steward of Arlington Heights Lodge #1184 acted as Grand Orator, which duty he relinquished to the Reverend Brother Thompson at the ceremony.

After the Grand Lodge was opened at 808 1/2 Houston street, it was called from labor for the purpose of laying the cornerstone in public ceremony and directed to reassemble at the Temple building site for the leveling of the cornerstone as directed by the Grand Master. In the minutes we find only that the cornerstone was laid in due and ancient form, after which Brother J. K. Thompson gave an impressive address followed by lunch on the grounds.

The contents of the box placed in the corner stone comprised of a certified copy of the charter, constitution and by-laws, copy of the charter of the grand lodge, list of charter members, original officers, bible, list of present members, list of officers laying the stone, list of officers who instituted the lodge, names of the building committee, architect, builder and superintendant, an amulet from Jerusalem, a bead from Constantinople, a number of cards and coins from those in attendance, a collar button from the reliable laundry and other things.

The officers taking part in the ceremonies consisted of Sam P. Cochran, thirty-third degree, past grand master, acting as grand master; Claud Cross, worshipful master of Fort Worth Lodge No. 148; H. M. Marks, worshipful master of Panther City Lodge; Joe B. Hines, worshipful master of Julian Field; Frank H. Sparrow, acting grand treasurer, and treasurer of Arlington Heights Lodge; Charles M. Doyle, acting grand secretary; Rev. J. K. Thompson, acting grand chaplain; G. R. M. Montgomery, acting grand marshall; H. J. Perkins, worshipful master of Hemphill Heights Lodge, acting grand senior deacon; W. M. Stephens, master of Polytechnic Lodge, acting grand junior deacon; J. L. Lockett, master of W. W. Peavy Lodge, acting grand senior steward; Walter Smith, master of Tarrant Lodge, acting grand junior steward; A. H. Sanders, tiler of Arlington Heights Lodge, acting grand tiler; C. A. Bonnett, senior steward, acting grand orator, which honor he conferred upon Dr. J. K. Thompson. At the conclusion of the ceremonies Mr. Cochran expressed pleasure at having been thus honored and spoke of the kindly relations that exist between the Dallas and Fort Worth brethren of the craft.
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Cost of the Building

Any figure as to what our Lodge Temple building actually cost must be an estimate or deduction at best, since reports and audits of those days are scarce. Perhaps the best guess would be $20,078.10 based upon the fact that Walter Cox was the contractor and that his commission of ten percent was paid in the amount of $2,007.81 which he donated to the lodge. Also the same report of 20 June, 1925 showd the architect commission of five percent to be $1,004.29 which would place the cost at $20,085.80. The lower figure is probably right because there is a note somewhere about blueprints costing seven dollars and some cents.
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Hi-Twelve Club

It was at the meeting on 14 November, 1922 that the trustees reported that they had leased the lower floor to the Hi-Twelve Club, (a recognized society of Master Masons of the city of Fort Worth) and a resolution was adopted setting forth the terms of the lease. The facilities were to be dedicated as a community Center for the purpose of holding entertainments, which would be open to all persons of good moral character; and the Hi-Twelve Club was charged to exercise great care that no objectionable persons attend such entertainments.

Over the past 35 years I have been told by many ladies a few years older than I, that when they were young ladies their parents knowing that the premises were strictly patrolled by the Masons and absolutely no intoxicating beverages were allowed on the grounds. Several of these lades have also stated that no smoking was allowed at the dances and the young men would have to go outside to smoke. Of course the prohibition against intoxicating beverages remains in Masonic Law to this date. The band stand at the west end of the banquet room which measured 7 X 14 feet and was elevated one foot high with a low metal railing around the front and sides was removed when the room was remodeled around 1967 or 68. The Saturday night dances were not the only community use of the room.
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The First Year Ends Well

We find that on 23 November, 1922 being just a year and a few days after that first organizational meeting at the school; Brother Myron Wood Sherman was made a Master Mason. At that meeting there were exactly 100 Master Masons who signed the register, they came from 20 different lodges, 18 in Texas and 1 each from Alabama and Indiana. There is no mention in the minutes of the reason for the large attendance, it may have been due to Brother Sherman's popularity or an early first birthday celebration of the Lodge.
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The Temple is Dedicated

Most Worshipful Mike H. Thomas, Grand Master of Texas visited the Lodge for its official dedication on 3 January, 1923. The lodge was duly opened and the Grand Master was formally received with privat grand honors. The Lodge was called off and a representation of the Grand Lodge opened, after which the temple was dedicated in due and ancient form. On this occasion 156 Master Masons signed the register and they represented 18 different lodges. The Grand Lodge was then closed and our lodge called up and closed.

Work continued as usual for the balance of the year with attendance especially large when Master Masons' degrees were being conferred. Two special meetings were called in May of 1923 by edict of the Grand Master, to raise funds for the Masonic Home and School. Results of these two meetings shoed over $1,500.00 contributed by the members with some still to be heard from.
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