The Post Office Block on Main Street, early site of Siloam Lodge
1866 - History - 1966
Over one hundred years have elapsed since Siloam Lodge came into existence. It is of interest to know that during the first one hundred years of Siloam Lodge, it has had only two homes. The first was in what was known as the Union Block, which was located roughly on South Street, about where the Telegram-Gazette office is now located, just off the rotary. After three years in that location the Lodge quarters moved to what was then known as the Post Office Block, on Main Street two doors down from the town cemetery, where it remained for ninety-seven years.
The records of Siloam Lodge begin with the following introduction, unsigned but probably written by the first Secretary, W. R. Gould.
"In the Spring of 1864 there were but three or four Free Masons living in Westborough (Mass.), and but one, or two, of those immediately connected with any Lodge in this vicinity.
In the spring and summer of the same year, several persons in the place, having formed a favorable opinion of the Institution and wishing, if found worthy, to become Masons, sought and
obtained recommendations from members of John Warren Lodge Hopkinton, it being the nearest Lodge to Westborough. During the years of 1864 and '65 the winter and spring of 1866,
about twenty went from this place, and were initiated in the John Warren Lodge. In May 1866 a few Free Masons held an informal meeting and discussed the propriety of organizing a Lodge
in Westborough, agreeing to invite all members of the Order residing here to unite with us. At an adjourned meeting, a committee of five
was chosen and instructed to procure and furnish a place suitable for a Lodge room. Also, a committee of three was chosen to draft a petition, procure signers and the necessary recommendations to present to the Grand Master for a Dispensation.
The committee for procuring a place &c, leased a room in Union Block for three years, with the privilege of five, and fitted it up at an expense of about $800. Also, the committee on the Petition for Dispensation &c procured twenty-two names with the necessary recommendations, which were presented to the Master of the Grand Lodge. On the 14th day of June 1866 we received a Dispensation and held our first regular communication under it on the 25th of the same month."
The Dispensation was dated at the Grand Lodge in Boston on the 14th day of June A.D. 1866 and was signed by the then Grand Master, Charles C. Dame and Charles W. Moore, Grand Secretary. The records show that the Petitioners for the Dispensation were: George Forbes, W. K. Gould, George O. Brigham, C. A. Harrington, W. C. Norcross, J. W. Tucker, C. R. Brigham, Jonathan Gleason, P. H. Odell, John A. Thayer, C. Whitney, James B. Putnam, Josiah Jackson, Sherman Convers, D. B. Faulkner, Willard Comey, Frank A. Spear, Francis A. Brigham, J. E. Parker, O. K. Hutchinson, J. W. Brigham and Edward Brigham. In the Dispensation the Grand Master appointed Bro. George Forbes to be the first Master, Bro. George Brigham the first Senior Warden and Bro. Sherman Convers the first Junior Warden. The original By-Laws consisted of ten Articles which were adopted "en Masse" unanimously and the first regular communication working under its Dispensation was held on Monday, June 25, 1866 at 7½ o'clock at Masonic Hall with Bro. George Forbes in the chair, the Lodge being opened in due form on the Third Degree in Masonry. The Worshipful Master announced the names of those appointed to fill the remaining offices as follows: Bro. C. Whitney, Treasurer; Bro. W. K. Gould, Secretary; Bro. James B. Putnam, Senior Deacon; Bro. W. C. Norcross, Junior Deacon; Bro. D. B. Faulkner, Marshall; Bro.
George Brigham, Chaplain; Bro. C. A. Harrington, Senior Steward; Bro. F. A. Brigham, Junior Steward; and Bro. Jonathan Gleason, Tyler.
We find nothing in the records to show the reason for naming the Lodge "Siloam." The definition given in the Bible is "Sent." It is also a celebrated pool at Jerusalem, originally part of the water supply. The writer likes to
think of it as a pool or fountain where men can come to refresh themselves and gain knowledge of the finer and meaningful things in life which tend to make him of more value to his fellow man and to society as a whole.
The original By-Laws state the time of regular meetings as "the Monday on or before the full of the moon of each month." The reason for this, we understand, was to take advantage of the natural light for night traveling. The hour of meeting was "7½ o'clock p.m. from the first of April to the 30th of September and from the first of October to the 31st of March at 7 o'clock" and the annual communication in November.
During the first year there were 29 applications for the degrees and 21 brothers were raised. At the May meeting a Committee was appointed to petition for a charter, the first year under Dispensation about to end; $125.00 was paid to the Grand Lodge for dues under dispensation. Our Charter was granted on June 14, 1867 and was signed by Charles C. Dame, Grand Master, Samuel P. Oliver, Sr. Grand Warden, Herman Mulliken, Jr. Grand Warden and Charles W. Moore, Grand Secretary. On July 16, 1867 the Constitution and Consecration exercises were held with the Grand Officers and Representatives of Lodges from adjoining towns in
attendance. Grand Master Dame opened the Lodge at 7½ o'clock P.M. on the third degree and proceeded to Constitute and Consecrate Siloam Lodge and installed the Master, Wardens, Treasurer and Secretary and ordered the Worshipful Master to install the remaining officers. After closing, all repaired to the Hotel for refreshments. At the thirteenth regular communication a committee was appointed to confer with Messrs. Fayerweather, Burnap and Brigham, who were erecting a block on Main Street on leasing a Hall and a suite of anterooms and on the fourteenth, communication a favorable verbal report was received and unanimously adopted.
In January of 1869 another committee was appointed to secure additional anterooms and take charge of finishing the rooms, and at the twenty-first regular communication on March 22, 1869 it was voted to add the Worshipful Master and Wardens and one other to the committee to finish the new hall. They were authorized to procure new furniture and take charge of removing the property from the old hall to the new.
On June 24, 1869 the records state that a strawberry festival was held with every Mason in town attending with his lady.
In looking over some of the bills in those early days we find that the Lodge paid $58.75 for three months rent. Oil and lamp chimneys from April 3, 1868 to October 1869 were $3.23.
Westborough in the latter part of the 19th century was a town of many industries and it has been very interesting to read the occupations of the applicants who joined Siloam Lodge. Among others, we find sleigh makers, bleachers, wheelwrights, leather cutters and straw workers.
The following year an entertainment committee was appointed and Bros. Frank F. Denfeld, William Scott and George Forbes were assigned to furnish entertainment at the
next meeting. On February 14, 1881 the records show "The Entertainment Committee provided for us Musical and Literary exercises after which remarks for the good of Masonry were offered,
each Brother present participating." At a special communication on June 13, 1881 occurred the annual visitation of the then District Deputy Grand Master Right Worshipful Arba
C. Slater. He was accompanied by the Most Worshipful Grand Master Samuel C. Lawrence. They were received by Worshipful Master Samuel O. Staples. The Grand Master addressed the Lodge at
some length on the subject of commutation of our Grand Lodge Tax, and it was recorded that "his remarks were listened to with deserved attention. As the result of this meeting it was voted
that at the next regular meeting a committee of 7, 9, or more be appointed to consider the commutation of the Grand Lodge Tax. This committee reported in August that they did not feel
that it was in the best interest of the Lodge to commute the Grand Lodge Tax and voted that the manner of paying this tax be discussed at the next regular meeting. In 1885 the idea of
building a Temple was voiced. This matter
has had consideration many times during the years that followed and at one time a Building and Furnishing fund was established with the idea in mind of sometime owning a Temple.
Brotherly love and relief go hand in hand and the records have many references to their practical application. In January 1884 a special relief fund was started to be used for payment of those referred to as "Watchers." These were Brothers who watched during the night by the bedside of a sick Brother when there was no one to take care of him. In January 1888 the Worshipful Master reported for the Hall committee that he had had a conference with the electric light company, which company had presented three propositions:
(1) The Lodge to install fixtures, estimate $20.00 for wiring, $2.15 for light bulbs of sixteen candlepower and pay 1½, cents per hour when in use.
(2) That the Company install wires and the Lodge to pay 2 cents per hour for each light when in use.
(3) That the Company would put in the wires and fixtures and charge $5.00 per year for each light, providing fourteen lights were installed; the Company to put in two lights in the banquet hall free of charge.
It was voted to refer the propositions back to the Hall committee and on April 9, 1888 they recommended the hall to be lighted by electricity in accordance with the third proposition.
In April 1891 a committee was appointed to prepare for the 25th anniversary celebration of the Institution, with Right Worshipful Adams Franklin Brown as Chairman. On the Reception Committee were Worshipful C. L. Harrington, Bros. Thomas J. Hastie, Frank Sibley, F. W. Bullard, C. H. Brigham and Forrest R. Kingsbury.
The celebration was held at a special communication on June 14, 1891. A special dispensation for this meeting was read. The attendance is not recorded, except that
the Worshipful Master remarked that he was happy to see so many present. Our own District Deputy Grand Master Adams Franklin Brown was called on for remarks. We have noticed in our
anterooms pictures of several of our past Masters, and at this meeting the Worshipful Master announced that the pictures of Bros. Jairus W. Smith, George L. Smith and Ralph B. Smith, were
father, son and grandson --three generations -- all Masters of Siloam Lodge, and had been presented to the Lodge by Worshipful Bro. Smith (which one, not mentioned); and that the picture of Right Worshipful Adams Franklin Brown, District Deputy of the 20th Masonic District, had been presented by the Right Worshipful.
The brethren then formed a procession and marched to the Evangelical Church where public services were rendered in accordance with a program, a copy of which appears in the Lodge records. The address was made by Rev. Bro. J. F. Lovering of Boston and was titled "A Ribband of Blue."
Again in 1892 there was a discussion of building a new Temple and another committee appointed, on which, among others, was Bro. Frank F. Denfeld, uncle of our Bro. Louis Denfeld, but on November 12, 1894 the committee reported that "owing to hard times" nothing had been done during the year.
There may have been other occasions, but the first record of the Lodge attending church in a body that your historian finds, except for the 25th anniversary, was on February 12, 1899, when, under special dispensation, service was attended at the Methodist Church. The preacher at that service was Rev. Bro. Fayette Nichols whose subject was "The Fundamental Principles of Free Masonry."
In March of the year 1899 the Lodge entertainment committee sponsored a lecture in the Town Hall by Bro. George Lorimer on "Masonry and Patriotism." 334 tickets were sold for $117.25, the expenses were $102.55 and the surplus of $14.70 was put in the Relief Fund.
The middle period of our Lodge was one of growth and activity. In 1926 a bequest of $2,000.00 was received under the will of Bro. Theodore B. Smart. Subsequently, a gift of $3,000.00 was received in 1927 from Mrs. Isadore Forbes in memory of her brother Theodore B. Smart. These amounts are set up under their respective names as Relief Funds.
By the end of 1899 the membership had grown to 151 and in 1900 the matter of new quarters again had consideration.
December of 1912 again brought up the question of more room and a committee recommended in March renting the entire upper floor for $325.00 a year for five years with the privilege of renewal of the agreement at the end of that time for another five years.
Early in 1912 a committee was appointed to consider the matter of forming a Masonic Club for social and literary purposes to be self-supporting with no expense to the Lodge, but under its control, and five years later it was voted to hire the former Savings Bank rooms on the second floor for use of the Club.
In June of 1907 we find the Lodge voting in favor of the proposal of establishing a Masonic Home in Charlton and paying its share of the expenses and in March of 1908 voluntary pledges for this purpose were commenced. By October of 1908 $960.00 had been pledged and $213.00 paid. From then on the Finance Committee in its annual report showed this account as a part of its record.
The observance of the 50th anniversary was noted at a special communication
June 27, 1917.
The By-Laws were changed in 1922 dispensing with regular meetings in July and August.
In May of 1923 a committee was appointed to consider sponsoring an Order of DeMolay. The fruit of their labor will appear later in this history.
In October 1923 and the membership then was 305.
On November 12, 1928 Siloam Lodge donated $200.00 to the Grand Lodge to be used in connection with Juniper Hall, the Masonic Hospital in Shrewsbury.
In March, our Master was elected to serve on the Advisory Board of the Marlboro DeMolay Council as Westboro boys were served by that district.
Membership in August, 1938 - 242. 1938 was uneventful, but it was noted that banquets and collations were
often provided by the Kendall Hotel or Holman Caterers, long since a part of history.
At the installation of officers for 1941-42, Worshipful Bro. Roger W. Beaman presented his brother Worshipful Willard A. Beaman the Past Master's jewel, it being the third jewel in the family.
At the onset of World War II, several interesting items were noted in the records. Donations were made to the Red Cross with approval of the Grand Master. It was also voted that we offer the use of our quarters to the Air Raid Wardens if occasion required. It was also moved that the Trustees be authorized to take $3,500.00 from the relief fund and invest in Defense Bonds.
We were indeed proud to have Worshipful Elmer W. Bennett appointed D. D. G. M. of the Natick 23rd Masonic district. A gala evening ensued on his 1st fraternal visit to Siloam. He was presented with the Past D. D. G. M. jewel by his uncle, Rt. Wor. Arthur Fairbanks, who had raised him to the Master Mason Degree and also had raised his father when the Rt. Worshipful was the Senior Deacon. He also had the honor of installing the Rt. Worshipful as Master of Siloam Lodge on two occasions.
In March of 1942, the question of our 75th Anniversary was discussed and it was decided to postpone any plans for the duration of the war.
In May of 1942 a third degree was conferred on 3 candidates. The work was well given and much enjoyed, however, it was interrupted by a blackout which lasted one-half hour.
Many members of Siloam served in the armed forces, as well as sons and relatives of members. Many returned in uniform to relate experiences and travels to the brethren. Because of the war and the manpower shortage, Worshipful Harold Perry was Master for 2 years, 1942 and 1943.
In June of 1944, the Master Mason Degree was conferred on 3 brothers all of
the same family: Howard B. Uhlman, Ray P. Uhlman, and John S. Uhlman all raised by Senior Warden Edward L. Uhlman. The Past D. D. G. M. Rt. Worshipful Thomas S. Roy of Worcester delivered the charge. Rt. Worshipful Roy later became Grand Master of Masons in Massachusetts.
1945 and 1946 were uneventful.
In January, 1947, the D. D. G. M. was present on a fraternal visit to present a 50-year medal to Worshipful Edward Brigham and it was noted "Oldest pastmasters were
present and pictures were taken." In April, Worshipful Frank W. Winter was presented the Veteran's Medal and Bro. Robert Bramhall gave the
charge to 18 new Master Masons.
In November a motion was made and passed to appoint a committee to look into the purchase of the Keating Block and report back at the next meeting.
In April of 1950 there was a Father and Son Night. Wor. Norman H. Bennett was raised by his father, Rt. W. Elmer W. Bennett and assisted by his granduncle, R. W. Arthur Fairbanks. Bro. Paul B. Mason was raised by his father, Wor. J. Baron Mason.
In February, 1953, a committee was appointed to investigate possible sites for lodge quarters, Rev. Arthur Hanson, Chairman. Buildings and sites investigated were found unfavorable. In June of 1953 a Third Degree was conducted but the lobster supper scheduled for the evening was canceled due to the destruction caused by the June 9th tornado.
In January, 1958, Siloam was again honored by having Wor. Robie L. Palmer appointed D. D. G. M. of the Natick 23rd and R. W. Elmer W. Bennett served as his Marshall.
In June, the Wor. Master appointed a committee to look into the possibility of forming a DeMolay Chapter in Westborough headed by R. W. Elmer Bennett and Bros. John Van Dam, Ray Gilbert, Jr., Walt Hardy and Kendrick Claflin. In February of 1961, the committee moved and it was voted to sponsor a chapter jointly with Franklin Lodge in Grafton and on March 13, 1961, Forbes-Rawson Chapter Order of DeMolay was instituted and installation scheduled. R. W. Bennett was given a standing vote of thanks for the success of the project.
In April of 1961, discussions were once again started on the feasability of new quarters for Siloam Lodge and the possibility of a joint Temple with Grafton and Shrewsbury. Early workers in this endeavor were Wor. Elwood Hennessey, Wor. Baron Crowell, Jr. and Wor. Herbert Barclay. This plan did not prove feasible.
In March of 1962, the sum of $250.00 was appropriated to retain an architect to study the present facilities and draw a sketch for complete renovation with estimated
costs and finally in May a committee was appointed
with our present Wor. Master (Wor. Ronald Fraser) as Chairman to set up an organization to buy a piece of land and proceed with the building of a Temple to house Siloam Lodge. In June, Siloam Masonic Association was incorporated. Membership in September 1962 was 397.
In 1966, we have seen the culmination of many years' efforts in the formulation of a working corporation and the fruits of these efforts in the purchase of new quarters for Siloam Lodge. The building was purchased from the Methodists and work began almost immediately to transform a church into the fruition of our dreams.
Siloam Lodge has had a successful, happy, stable and beneficial place in
the town of Westborough.
Spared the ravages of time, Siloam will continue to travel into a memorable future guided by a history of stability, brotherhood, charity and service to the community and Masonry in general.
Thus may we ever meet, act and part.