HISTORY OF ELLETTSVILLE MASONIC LODGE # 245
Ellettsville's Masonic Lodge was instituted on May 28, 1857 and worked under dispensation by the Grand Lodge for two years until it was granted a charter in 1859. The first regular meeting was on July 7, 1857 and 8 of the 9 charter members were present. During the first fifty years the lodge had 18 different masters. Barton Acuff, was the first worshipful master. He served in that office for eight years. Also serving as master during that period were J.K. Phipps who served for seven years, and John S. Johnson, John H. Shook, and G.W. Faulkner each served as master for 5 years. The first hall was a frame building at the Southwest corner of Sale and Oak Streets. William Buchanan was the first to petition the lodge for membership. He received the master mason degree on February 28, 1858. Brother James Edward Ellett, for whom the town was named, was the twenty-eighth member of the lodge and was raised to a master mason on January 10, 1865.
The lodge's second building was a two-story structure directly across Sale Street from the present location. It had a balcony extending over the sidewalk which provided a stage for concerts by the town band. The present hall was erected in 1895 at a cost of $1,700. By 1907, the fiftieth anniversary of the lodge, there had been 195 members in the lodge. They had paid off all the debt but $150. The lodge owned only the second floor. C. E. Grant owned the land and the lower floor in which he operated a store. The lodge purchased the lower floor and land for the sum of $550 in December of 1941 when Mr. Grant died. In our second fifty year period we have added an additional 240 members.
The lodge has a beautiful hollow limestone altar with a removable top which is used as a storage site for Masonic Bibles and lambskin aprons. It was carved with Masonic emblems and given to the lodge by Albert Matthews. Mr. Matthews also carved the large emblematic panel on the front of the building. Fred Matthews, the owner of Mathews Brothers Stone Company the provider of the stone, was our 128th member and our first 33° mason, the highest honorary degree in masonry. Most recently the lodge has been fortunate to have this honor bestowed on Brothers John W. Baugh, A. Vincent May, Winfield "Dick" Jacobs, James Chesney, Jack Vickrey, and Gary Brinley. Ellettsville Masonic Lodge is also proud to claim as members, Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of the State of Indiana for the year 1983-84, A. Vincent "Vince" May, and Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Indiana for the year 2003-04, James L. Chesney. During the lodge's 125th year celebrated in June of 1984, members traveled to Alexandria, Virginia where they conferred the Master Mason Degree on two members in the Alexandria Washington Lodge # 22, which is the home lodge of President George Washington.
The heritage of our lodge, being in the heart of the limestone industry, includes not only speculative masons, but also operative masons. Brother John Baugh worked on the Scottish Rite Cathedral in Indianapolis while employed at Mathews Brothers Stone Company. In September of 1992 he presented the working tools he used on the cathedral to the Indianapolis Valley, Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite. In its 146 years, the lodge has had more than 700 members representing every profession and craft.
In the Spring of 1968, the Lodge acquired the lots on the north side of the lodge hall for future use. In the Spring of 2001, the Lodge accepted a proposed plan to remodel the present hall including the addition of a first floor lodge hall on the vacant lot next door. Construction began in September of 2001. On June 28, 2004 the cornerstone of the new addition was laid with members of the Indiana Grand Lodge present. Most Worshipful Brother James L. Chesney, then Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Indiana, presided at the ceremonies.
The façade of the building includes two limestone columns, carved designs of the Indiana Grand Lodge shield and other Masonic emblems. In addition, a life-sized statue of St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist will appear in an alcove above the first floor windows. Most of the work was accomplished by craftsmen from within the membership of the lodge. Each who helped has much to be proud of.
The above text was taken from The Ellettsville Story, published in 1987 by White Arts, Inc. Indianapolis, Indiana. Additional material, taken from the archives of the lodge, was added by Winfield "Dick" Jacobs and Jim Stockton.
SOME OF THE CONTENTS OF OUR ARCHIVE
1. Master's apron worn by Barton Acuff, first master of our lodge, presented to the lodge by his grandson, Brother W. Ralph Ridge in 1983. 2. Ribboned officer's jewels and wooden working tools, thought to be the original sets. 3. An alter bible with a printed date of 1864. 4. Other memorabilia from our two visitations to President George Washington's home lodge located in Alexandria, Virginia.