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George Washington 1776 Lodge #337, F. & A.M., Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin

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Reflections on the
Consolidation of George Washington 1776 Lodge

At family gatherings, it is not uncommon for those with long memories to narrate stories of how the family first came to this country, to relate what their childhood was like, or to reiterate war-time or business exploits only partially believed by the listeners.  Our lodge is a group of men who form family-like ties as brothers along with their families, encompassing everyone here at this time, and even those who now live in distant states.

 

As we gather today, some can recall July 29, 2000, when several lodges merged to form our newly named George Washington 1776 Lodge.  On this anniversary of our consolidation, I would like to chronicle the founding of our several consolidated lodges and their history.  The number of people that this retelling would encompass is staggering, but I will emphasize just a few major milestones, particularly the buildings that we have inhabited on our journey.  Members of George Washington 1776 Lodge stand as inheritors of our various lodge histories as they constitute the foundation of who we are today.

 

Every lodge must receive a charter from the Grand Lodge of Wisconsin.  The charter number given to the Lodge indicates its age, with low numbers indicating that they were founded long ago.  For example, Aurora Lodge #30, which also meets in the Silver Spring Masonic Center, has a very low number, signifying that it was just the thirtieth lodge chartered in Wisconsin, established in December 1850.  

 

All of the lodges that joined in the George Washington 1776 Lodge consolidation were much younger than Aurora Lodge, all of which were established in the twentieth century with numbers beginning in the three-hundreds.  Listed by length of charter, they are Kenwood Lodge #303 which was charted in 1913; Silver Spring Lodge #337 which was chartered in 1926; Shorewood Lodge #339 which was chartered in 1927; and Brown Dear Lodge #357 which was chartered in 1962.

 

Kenwood Lodge

 

Like many newly chartered lodges, Kenwood Lodge #303 met in different locations for the first years of its charter, 1913-1916, including Westminster Presbyterian Church, Cottrill Hall of Ivanhoe Temple, and the Guild Hall of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church.  Kenwood Lodge erected its own lodge building in 1915 at 2648 N. Hackett Avenue, just behind St. Mark’s Episcopal Church near the Downer Avenue shopping district south of UWM.  Kenwood Lodge moved into their three-story highly ornate building in 1916, in the heart of the East Side.  The building remains in good condition, having recently been remodeled.

                                     

The dining room of Kenwood Lodge was known as Liberty Hall, showing the patriotic influence that remains today in the naming of the consolidated lodge for George Washington.  The lodge building was sold to the Italian Community Center in 1980, before the ICC had its new building on Chicago Street on the south side.  The Italian Community Center sold the Kenwood Lodge building in 1990 to the Church in the City, which has an active congregation there today.

 

Funds from the sale of their building form a continuing legacy as the Kenwood Foundation is now the George Washington 1776 Foundation, donating $2,400 or more annually for charitable purposes.  After selling their Lodge building, Kenwood Lodge moved to the Silver Spring Masonic Center.  With Kenwood Lodge and Silver Spring Lodge in the same building, naturally the idea of consolidation was contemplated over the years, until its successful completion in July, 2000.

 

 

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Kenwood Lodge Building

Silver Spring Lodge

 

Also in the Silver Spring Masonic Center was the Silver Spring Lodge #337.  The newly charted lodge in 1926 met in the Whitefish Bay Community Church (now called United Methodist Church of Whitefish Bay) until 1942. 

 

In 1942, Silver Spring Lodge moved to the Christ Church Episcopal Mission Building at 517 East Beaumont Avenue, which it rented from the Christ Church of Whitefish Bay.  This building was on the same site as our current building (with a Church rectory next to it in what is now Sendik’s parking lot).  That building was constructed in 1931 as a white-painted frame church building, consisting of a small vestibule, opening through swinging doors into the main hall with a capacity of 100 folding chairs, with a small altar at the south end of the room.  Christ Church built its new church across the street in 1940-1941.

 

The lodge eventually purchased the old mission building and site from Christ Church in about 1960.  Silver Spring Lodge erected the current building in 1965 in a federalist style.  Consequently, the Silver Spring Masonic Temple (now called Silver Spring Masonic Center) is about 40 years old today.

 

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Silver Spring Masonic Center

Shorewood Lodge

 

Shorewood Lodge #339 was chartered in 1927.  Like the other lodges, it first met in several locations including the basement of Shorewood Presbyterian Church (now called North Shore Presbyterian Church) and the second floor of the Shorewood Theater Building.  They completed construction of the Shorewood Lodge in 1938, which was celebrated with a magnificent parade of about 5,000 people down Oakland Ave.  The Shorewood Lodge building was built at 4050 N. Oakland Avenue, a block and half north of Capitol Drive across the street from North Shore Presbyterian Church. 

 

The Shorewood Lodge building was sold in 2002 to the Gilda’s Club of Southeastern Wisconsin, a not-for-profit group that assists those with cancer.  The Shorewood Lodge building was refurbished to make is accessible for its new purpose.

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Shorewood Lodge - now as Gilda's Club

Brown Deer Lodge

 

Brown Deer Lodge #357 met initially in St. Martin’s Episcopal Church, but moved soon afterward in 1962 into the Brown Deer Community Methodist Church (now called Brown Deer United Methodist Church) at 5736 West Brown Deer Road.

 

Brown Deer Lodge held its cherished charter number 357.  Brown Deer Lodge’s seal included a flight of winding stairs, consisting of 3, 5, and 7 steps.  Brown Deer Lodge consolidated with George Washington 1776 in 2002.  At that time, the charter number for George Washington 1776 had already been assigned to it by Grand Lodge.

 

George Washington 1776 Lodge

 

With the consolidating lodges having their own charter numbers, the members of the consolidating lodges sought permission to have a new number, 1776, which was in honor of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.  The new consolidated lodge would have a new name, new number, and new identity.  But, the Grand Lodge would not permit this.  Accordingly, the Grand Lodge gave us one of the old chartered numbers.  This is how our name became George Washington 1776 Lodge, #337 F. & A.M., which is quite a mouthful.

 

Consolidation brings together the rich traditions of the four lodges and a wealth of skills and knowledge of its members.  In 2005, our current lodge officers represent members who were once members of each of the four consolidating lodges as well as members who were raised in the George Washington 1776 Lodge in the past five years.  For example, our trustees include Hank Hoffman, who was originally a member of Brown Deer Lodge; Bob Porath and Horace Palmer, who were originally members of Shorewood Lodge; Bill Huegel, who was originally a member of Kenwood Lodge; and Matt Fredrich, Dave Haase, and Charles Roeder, who were originally members of Silver Spring Lodge. 

 

Those who in the past five years were raised at George Washington 1776 Lodge include as elected and line lodge officers: Andy Paradowski, SW; JG Rosenow III, JW; John Clark, JD; and Chris Adamec, JS.  Other officers of our Lodge this year include Tony Busalacchi, Chaplain; Frank Neurnberger, Jr., SD; Otto Tesch, SS, Bob Smith, Tiler and Counselor; and Dick Marcus, WM who were members of Silver Spring Lodge.

 

Upcoming Years

 

Now we are all members of the George Washington 1776 Lodge.  We inherit the traditions and experiences of the constituent lodges.   Indeed, the consolidation representing much of the North Shore of Milwaukee. The furnishings of the lodge building represent a blending of gifts from all of the lodges. 

 

But the greatest of gifts are the members who have bonded together to form our George Washington 1776 Lodge, now celebrating our fifth anniversary.  May our upcoming years add to the rich traditions that our early lodge brothers started for us.  We hold with deepest respect those who have brought us to this point in our journey.

 

Thank you,

Dick Marcus, PM