Speculative Masonry began in Greenwich in 1763 when Union Lodge No. 5 was organized in Stamford; its jurisdiction included Stamford, Greenwich, Darien, Rye and Bedford, New York. In 1780 the Lodge meeting place was moved from Stamford to Knapp’s Tavern in Horseneck (Greenwich).
Acacia Lodge No. 85 was first opened at a Special Communication of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of Connecticut on June 25, 1857. The first meeting place was on the upper floor of Cos Cob School on the Post Road almost opposite Cross Lane. The first officers were: Worshipful Master, Luke Adolphus Lockwood; Senior Warden, Lewis Howe; Junior Warden, Daniel Merritt Mead; Treasurer, Lewis A. Reed; Secretary, Francis Dauchy; Senior Deacon, Joseph Horne; Junior Deacon, Isaac Joseph Lockwood and Tyler, William White. The Lodge received it’s official Charter from the Grand Lodge in 1858. The charter members of Acacia Lodge were Abraham H. Close, Francis Dauchy, Edward B. Hewes, Joseph Horne, Lewis Howe, Luke A. Lockwood, Daniel Lyon, William L. Lyon, Daniel Merritt Mead, Lewis A. Reed, Bartow F. White, Samuel Close, Titus Mead, Nehemiah Peck, E. Keeler, Frederick Lockwood, Charles Wilson, Benjamin Husted, Isaac J. Lockwood and Denom Palmer.
Abraham H. Close was a farmer residing on Lake Avenue at the junction of the road leading to Putnam Lake. The house is still standing. Francis Dauchy conducted the only drygoods business in town. His store was located at the head of Greenwich Avenue in the Weed building and was a branch of the Hoyt store in Stamford. Edward B. Hewes lived at Mianus and was a member of the firm of Newman & Hewes who did a large business at the Upper Landing as Mianus was then called. Later he was Warden of the Connecticut State Prison. Joseph Horne was the son of Nicholas Van Horn who was born about 1801 in a little house at the foot of Bedford Hills. He was known by Long Ridge people as Nick Horn and thus the Van of his Dutch name became obsolete. He first learned the shoemakers trade as did may of the boys in that neighborhood. Joseph Horne the son of Nicholas, who was born in Middle Patent in 1824, added the letter e to his name. He subsequently lived with his parents for a short time at Newark, New Jersey, but most of his early life was spent in Middle Patent attending school there and in Bedford. At the age of fifteen he learned the trade of a tailor and at the age of twenty went to Mianus and subsequently became a partner with Shadrach M. Brush in a general store. He was so engaged when he became a charter member of Acacia Lodge. Joseph Horne was a popular man and of more than ordinary ability. He foresaw the importance of Pittsburg as the logical center of the iron industry and was making arrangements to remove to Pennsylvania when he died of scarlet fever June 16, 1863. Lewis Howe was doubtless the most intellectual of the Charter members. He was a close student devoted to his books, and to imparting knowledge to the youth of that period. He was born July 30, 1827, in the Howe Homestead at Pecksland, and graduated from Yale College in the class of 1852. He married Mary Louisa, daughter of Joseph and Sarah Brush of Cos Cob. He opened a boarding school for boys in the house known as the “Elms” at 123 East Putnam Avenue. He died July 3, 1857 at the age of twenty-eight. His widow survived him for many years and his daughter Mrs. Mary L. Geiser resides in Cos Cob. Daniel Merritt Mead at the age of eighteen began to write the first history of the Town which was published in 1857. He was a member of the Connecticut bar his office being on Greenwich Avenue in the first business building built by him and John Dayton now known as No. 27. He had a brilliant military record in the war of 1861 and held the commission of Major at his death September 19, 1862. Dr. Bartow F. White lived in Round Hill. He was a large contributor to the erection of the Episcopal Church in that village and it has been said that but for him it would never have been built. His monument in the church yard correctly describes the man who was born May 28, 1801 and died December 25, 1869: “The affectionate father, the beloved physician, the devoted Christian.”
John Dayton was the first candidate to be initiated into Freemasonry by Acacia Lodge No. 85 on same day it was installed and chartered by the Grand Lodge on Saint John’s Day in 1857 in the old Cos Cob School house. The lodge soon thereafter moved into the Held Building on Greenwich Avenue which was considered an innovation at that time. The lodge agreed to an annual rent of $75 per year and had the right to renew the lease in ten years time. The occupation of the new lodge room in the Held building marked the beginning of a new era in the life of Acacia Lodge. In that room were made many Masons now (year written 1926) regarded as “elderly” but who will always have a warm spot in their hearts for the old location. And, indeed, the lodge room itself was a warm spot. There was no calling off in July and August but John H. Merritt the tyler did everything in his power to make the brethren comfortable. Homemade root beer in stone jugs and slices of watermelon properly iced were served when the brethren were called from labor to refreshment. Often refreshments were served outside, in the back yard concealed from the roadway (now Greenwich Avenue) by a rustic stone wall a century old. And in the winter when the tyler stirred the clam soup, in a massive iron pot, the aroma of those succulent shell fish permeated the atmosphere for a considerable distance. One of the old members who was blessed with a good appetite on one occasion suggested that the aroma of those clams was so enticing that it probably caused accessions to the lodge. Brother Merritt was very proud of the tyler’s sword. It is a relic of the Mexican war still in possession of the lodge and he made it do the added service of slicing the cold melon on those hot summer evenings.
Active in the affairs of the lodge in those early days were three youths on the sunny side of thirty who were intimate and congenial friends. They were Daniel Merritt Mead, Luke A. Lockwood and John N. Lewis, and they were all lawyers. Major Mead has his place in the history of the town as its early historian and as active in military affairs in 1861. He organized Company I of the Tenth Connecticut Volunteers; went out as Captain and after gallant service returned in a dying condition as Major of his Regiment. He lived only two weeks passing away at the old homestead on the Post Road September 19, 1862 at the early age of twenty-eight. He was a man of unusual ability and had he lived would have been prominent in public affairs beyond the Town of Greenwich. He was a Representative in the General Assembly of Connecticut in 1860. He was a loyal friend and delightful companion. He married Louisa, daughter of Col. Thomas A. Mead who survived him for many years. Brother Daniel Merritt Mead is buried at the Second Congregational Church cemetery on East Putnam Avenue. John N. Lewis was the son of a minister of the same name. Their home was on Putnam Avenue in the house now occupied (year 1926) by Dr. Edward O. Parker. He had a mechanical as well as legal turn of mind and with his own hands made the altar and other articles of furniture for the lodge which were in use from 1858 to 1923. They are now in the storage room of the Temple. As a lawyer, Bro. Lewis excelled in court work. He was connected with the firm of Coudert Brothers of New York City for a number of years and successfully tried many important cases for that office. Later he became an assistant District Attorney under Col. John R. Fellows. Bro. Lewis visited Acacia Lodge a short time before the beginning of a long and painful illness which ended with his death in 1909. In the last days of his illness and distress he worked with his own hands a silk embroidered Master Mason’s apron which is now framed and hanging in the ante-room of the lodge. Passing mention is made of Brother Luke A. Lockwood, many times master of the lodge and Grand Master of the State of Connecticut, respected friend and an honorable lawyer in New York City. He was a personal friend of King Edward VII, who as Prince of Wales was Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of England for over forty years. The king made Luke A. Lockwood the sole representative of English Masons in North American in 1895 and the citation with the king’s signature (then as Prince of Wales) is still in possession of the lodge today. Luke A. Lockwood had a remarkable career in his personal life as well as in his masonic life. He single-handedly wrote the first draft of the laws and ancient landmarks of Freemasonry which is still in use by the Grand Lodge and all lodges throughout the State of Connecticut today. A large citation in a very elaborate and decorative carved wooden frame from the Grand Lodge of Connecticut commending Lockwood on his contributions and services to Freemasonry in the state is still in possession of the lodge. In 1905 however, just one year shy from Lockwood’s fiftieth anniversary as a member of Freemasonry, with Luke appearing to be in excellent health and no thought that he was nearing the end of his useful life, passed away suddenly. Brother George G. McNall, former town clerk and also past Grand Master of the State of Connecticut, motioned in recognition of Luke Lockwood’s attainments, that a committee be formed “for the purpose of arranging for a suitable tribute to our appreciation and esteem for our Worshipful Brother, Past Grand Master, Luke A. Lockwood to be presented to him on the occasion of his Golden Anniversary in Masonry.” For that purpose the following committee was appointed: Bros. George G. McNall, F.D. Knapp, William P. Hall, William L. Griswold, Robert H. McNall, Henry A. Merritt, Amos W. Avery, L.P. Jones, N.A. Knapp, Frederick A. Hubbard, James G. Wilson, Robert Wellstood, John Dayton and Cornelius Mead. Alas, on November 20, 1905, at his ancestral home on what is now Lockwood Road in Riverside, Most Worshipful Brother Luke A. Lockwood died in the same room where he was born on December 1, 1833. Luke’s early education was in the public schools and the Greenwich Academy where he prepared for college. Philander Button, a Yale graduate was principal of the Academy in those days and his schoolmates were those who always possessed happy memories of the times when Brothers Lockwood, Mead and Lewis and possibly others were active boy orators in the heated political campaigns of the late 1840’s. Luke entered Trinity College in 1851 and graduated four years later. In early life he became a member of Christ Church and in 1875 he started a mission at Riverside which subsequently became the present St. Paul’s Parish. For many years he officiated as lay reader until the Parish was able to sustain a Rector. He was an earnest and devoted Churchman, Senior Warden until his death and an active member of the conventions of his Diocese. In 1890 he was elected Trustee of Trinity College, which office he held during life. At the close of his college course he entered the profession of law, was admitted to the bar in 1856 and continued in active practice until his death. He was made a mason at Union Lodge No. 5 in 1856 and as already has appeared was instrumental in the establishment of Acacia Lodge and was its first Master continuing in that office for ten years. In 1872 and 1873 he was the Grand Master of Masons in Connecticut. It was during this period that he became deeply imbued with the practical teachings of Masonry – charity – and he ably presented the subject in his address before the Grand Lodge and largely by his persistent efforts accomplished the establishment of the Masonic Home, which still continues to this day in 2018 as Masonicare A portrait of Luke A. Lockwood on loan from Acacia graces the entrance of the Masonic Charity Foundation and Masonicare. Acacia Lodge continues to be one of the largest contributors each year (from the lodges throughout the state) in donations in order to maintain the tradition, legacy and memory of our the lodge’s first Worshipful Master. He was its first President and remained in that office until his death. This work was nearest his heart and his time and services were freely given. He seems to have ben just the man for the successful accomplishment of the project and his enduring monument should stand on the grounds of the Masonic Home at Wallingford. On December 12, 1905 Acacia Lodge adopted the following resolution:
“Whereas Most Worshipful Brother Luke A. Lockwood, a charter member of this lodge, the first and for many years its Worshipful Master and actively connected with its welfare for nearly fifty years, was on November 20, 1905 called from labor of our terrestrial, to the refreshment of the Celestial Lodge above whereas he was greatly endeared to us by reason of his profound learning and his most genial and affectionate nature. Therefore, Resolved, that in his death we have lost a brother whose example, wise counsels and inspiring friendship have rendered his memory sacred and enduring and that these resolutions be spread upon the record as a memorial of him whom we have known only to love and whose high character and zeal for this order will be revered by the generations to come. Life’s Labor Done. Serenely to his final rest he passed; while the memory of his virtues yet linger, like sunlight hues when that bright orb has set.” Brother Luke A. Lockwood is now buried next to his beloved wife at the Saint Andrew’s church yard at Stamford, Connecticut.
By the 1870’s the second ten-year lease for the Held building was expiring and it was apparent that the room occupied for twenty years had become wholly inadequate for an organization constantly increasing in membership. The nominal rent of $75 per annum was certain to be increased in event of a renewal, but leading members of the lodge saw the absolute necessity at whatever cost. The subject of a new lodge room was frequently discussed to the point where on December 11, 1877 George W. Hunt, John Dayton and Elias S. Peck were made a committee “to procure a suitable place to meet as the present lease will expire this year.”But all winter was spent in considering the question without action. An opportunity arose when the Isaac L. Mead building was proposed to be built (still present on the corner of Greenwich Avenue and East Putnam Avenue, historically referred to as Pickwick Corner). The third floor was offered as a lodge space and a motion was made by the lodge to negotiate to lease that space. The Isaac L. Mead building was the first brick building erected in the borough. By 1879 the building being complete, the lodge moved into its new room on the third floor of the building where it was dedicated by the Grand Lodge on February 13, 1879. This same year Brother Titus Mead passed away, the long-time treasurer of the lodge. His widow Mrs. Lucy M. Mead sent to the Lodge a substantial sum of money and coupled with a vote of thanks was a request for a photograph of her late husband. Later Mrs. Mead installed in Christ Church a beautiful Masonic memorial window in his memory (which is still present in the narthex of the church building).
Freemasonry has its ancient roots in town and the earliest recorded meeting place of Masons in Greenwich also happened to be in the cottage just across the street from the first Episcopal meeting house in the town. In fact, several local authors have gone as far as to posit the idea that Freemasonry and Anglicanism arose at much of the same time and place, and the argument is not entirely inaccurate. In 1749, after the State of Connecticut passed the pluralist laws allowing other denominations other than Congregationalism to practice in the state, just fourteen years later Freemasons first congregated across the street from the first Episcopal chapel at Israel Knapp’s tavern. In fact, the two governing bodies of the lodge and the Episcopal church are so close in nomenclature and powers that they are nearly identical. For example the primary officers of a masonic lodge are a Worshipful Master, Senior Warden, Junior Warden, Treasurer and Secretary; while a vestry of the church has a Rector, Senior Warden, Junior Warden, Treasurer and Secretary. Brother Hubbard in the lodge’s history book devotes and entire chapter to Masonry and Christ Church. He writes that, “…Of course, as everyone knows, the Congregational Church, in its plain simple meeting house, had no use for ritualistic or ceremonial worship and yet Greenwich people were so free from bigotry that many in that denomination failed to sympathize with their pastor, Rev. Joel Mann in his attacks upon the Masonic Order.” At about the time of the unhappy Morgan Affair in 1826, it becomes evident by the treasurers books at Christ Church that many of the prominent attendants, if not members, of the Second Congregational Church actually became pew owners in Christ Church. Many of them or their families eventually returned but their Puritan feeling of the non-conformist became less strong. The outspoken condemnation in England three centuries ago of the ceremonies and worship, the ring in marriage and the sign of the cross in baptism has gradually disappeared. But within the memory of the present generation (year 1926) was noticed in Puritan descendants an aversion to the clerical robe while now even in small New England Congregational Churches are found the chancel, the reading desk, the pulpit and the vested choir with its processional and recessional. From these circumstances the conclusion naturally arises that there has always been a community of interest between the two organizations. The fact that the territory occupied by the church and the early lodge and coming from the same ownership of Israel Knapp is significant. He sold to the church a considerable tract of land on “Great Hill” (Putnam Hill) where the first church was built and where he had erected his Tavern still standing and now known as the Putnam Cottage. It seems therefore appropriate that illustrations of the two early church buildings as well as the cottage be mentioned.
Many members of the lodge belonged to Christ Church and perhaps for this reason the St. John’s day services have been held for many years in that church. Brother Nathaniel A. Knapp was Master of the lodge in 1907 and during his administration as well as that of Brother John H. Barrett which followed there were large additions to the membership of Acacia. On one occasion ten were balloted for at the same communication. Occasionally the single black ball kept the applicant out for six months and some never renewed their applications. But the record discloses the fact that some, rejected more than once, in their persistence, finally succeeded and became most efficient and well-beloved members of the order. In other cases the rejection seems to have been justified unless it be claimed that had the applicant been admitted the teachings of Masonry would have made him a better man. It is the teaching of the order that no personal feeling of envy or spite justifies the black ball unless the member who deposits it is certain that the character of the candidate is such that he will be a detriment to the order or that he is seeking admission only for selfish and mercenary reasons. The year 1907 was the fiftieth anniversary of the organization of the lodge and whether it should be noticed by a public demonstration was much discussed. A few were strongly in favor but more were indifferent and some were strongly opposed. Sufficient interest was manifest at the beginning of the year to cause a resolution to be adopted under which Worshipful Brother N.A. Knapp as Master appointed a committee of five to consider the subject and repot upon its advisability. The committee consisted of Brothers George G. McNall, F.D. Knapp, Amos W. Avery, James G. Wilson and Robert Wellstood. The Anniversary Committee as it was called appears to ahve been lukewarm on the subject for on the 28th of May a repot was made, as the record states, “without any recommendations.” But those who favored the subject refused to discharge the committee and it was voted that any anniversary entertainment be held in the lodge room. However, at the next stated communication, Jun 11, the opposition apparently mustered forces and rescinded the resolution of May 28 by “deferring the anniversary exercises till Fall” and on December 24 the committee was discharged with thanks. Hubbard writes, that “Their descendants may be called to act upon the same matter when the centennial year of 1957 rolls around.”
The year 1910 saw an agitation for an increase in the income of the lodge. There was an ever present call to increase the dues of each member, however, the subsequent action shows that the lodge was not satisfied with the proposition to collect larger feeds and derive no more than current fees. On motion of Brother N.A. Knapp it was voted to substitute forty-five dollars for the forty dollars proposed by the committee and the amendment was adopted. The subject of a new lodge room was also under discussion during 1910 and a number of sites were suggested. Secretary Brother McKinney on June 28, 1910 offered the following resolution which was adopted, “Believing that every brother looks forward to the time when Acacia Lodge can own and occupy its own home and also that our growing membership will soon demand larger and more commodious rooms; Therefore, Resolved, that the Trustees be instructed to set aside the sum of twenty-five hundred dollars out of the funds of the lodge as a nucleus of a fund to be called ‘The Permanent Building Fund’ for the purpose above stated.” The decade between 1910 and 1920 saw a growing and animated discussion among the members of Acacia as to the merits of acquiring a permanent home which would need to be constructed and paid for by the lodge members. While the idea of a permanent home was being contemplated the brothers moved their lodge room from the Isaac L. Mead building to the Isaac M. Hubbard building nearly opposite the now old town hall building which serves as an arts and senior center for the town. A great deal of animated discussion continued amongst the members of Acacia as to the merits of a permanent masonic lodge in town. As a result those arguing in favor of a permanent home appeared to have won the argument when the Masonic Temple Corporation was formed in the Spring of 1922. The corporation was organized with the exclusive purpose to purchase land and hire the appropriate entities to construct a permanent masonic lodge building that would be owned by the lodge. The member of Acacia no longer desired to be a lessee in someone else’s building.
The land purchased by the Masonic Temple Corporation consisted of lots owned by different individuals. The grantors in the deeds were Anna H. Mead, Oliver D. Mead, John Maher and Nathaniel Webb. The first actual work on the construction of the new Temple, which may better be called a ceremony, occurred Tuesday evening August 15, 1921 when the officers and members of Acacia Lodge; Greenwich Chapter No. 93 Eastern Star; Lockwood Chapter No. 52 Royal Arch Masons and the Masonic Club assembled on the Temple site. The letter G had been formed with the stakes put in the ground and between which the spade was put into actual use. Prayer was offered by Rev. H. Baxter Liebler associate chaplain of Acacia Lodge after which all joined in singing the Doxology led by the Masonic quartet. Worshipful Brother Alfred E. Austin, Master of Acacia and President of the Masonic Temple Corporation turned the first sod, followed by Brother R.G. Collins High Priest of Lockwood Chapter, Mrs. William A. Stevens Worthy Matron of the Eastern Star, George L. Geibel acting president of the Masonic Club and Bros. Houston and Smith architects of the Temple. Others who used the spade were Brother Worshipful Past Grand Master McNall, Soren I. Grandrup, Master of Mamora Lodge, Port Chester, New York, Joseph P. Crosby, Robert Wellstood, the oldest member of the lodge, J. Walker Simons one of the oldest members, Associate Chaplain Liebler and Past Masters Oscar Peck, Ernest Gieser, Frank E. Mead, William E. Finch, Dr. William L. Griswold, John H. Barrett and Walter M. Anderson. Oliver D. Mead at that time was not a member of the order was called called upon to give a brief history of the land comprising the Temple site. In a few well chosen words he explained that the site and many contiguous acres had belonged to his family since 1780. The old homestead of his grandfather occupied the actual site and the great black walnut tree grew in the southern end of the garden. The tree which had been a prominent feature of the landscape for many years was probably one hundred and fifty years old and had become a convenient junction point for apparently all the telephone and telegraph and electric wires in the village. It was later removed when the actual work of construction began and four canes made from the wood are now owned by Brothers Austin, J.G. Willson, Houston and Oliver D. Mead. The singing of America and pronouncing the benediction by Rev. Bro. Liebler brought the interesting occasion to a close. Although the plan for the Temple had been approved and the various committees appointed no contracts for constructed had been awarded. The building committee held its first meeting September 7, 1922 in the Masonic Club room, and the bids were opened for the excavation and mason work.
The laying of the cornerstone October 14, 1922 was probably the largest attended and the most interesting Masonic occasion the State had ever known and it is quite probable that New England has never seen such a great Masonic gathering (until the recent opening of the Paul Revere Time Capsule in Boston in late 2014/early 2015). The interest in the affair was not limited to Connecticut; our nearness to New York caused much interest in that state and many masonic organizations were represented. It is not expected that the reader will wade through the long list of names that follows with an idea of being entertained, but as a matter of history doubtless a greater interest to future generations it seems best to include practically the entire program.
“Masonic procession, order of march. Platoon of police; Right Worshipful Hobert S. Walker, Grand Marshal Col. Charles A. Moore, Chief of Staff, Major F.G.C. Smith assistant Chief of Staff, Grand Marshal’s Staff, Gov. Everett J. Lake and Staff.
First Division: Knights Templar, Most Eminent Grand Commander Thomas W. Morgan and Staff of the Grand Commandery. Knights Templar of Connecticut and the following commanderies: No. 1 Hartford, No. 2 New Haven, No. 3 Bridgeport, No. 9 Meriden, No. 10 Danbury, No. 12 Stamford, No. 42 Ossining, New York, No. 47 Yonkers, New York, No. 53 Mount Vernon, New York, No. 56 White Plains, New York.
Second Division: Grand Council of Connecticut, Grand Master Guild and Grand Officers.
Third Division: Grand Chapter of Connecticut, Charles N. Nash Grand High Priest and Grand Officers of the Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of Connecticut.
Fourth Division: The following blue lodges: Roosevelt No. 130 Stamford, Commonwealth No. 129 Stamford, Temple No. 127 Bridgeport, Ashlar No. 124 Bridgeport, Old Well No. 108 South Norwalk, Corinthian No. 104 Bridgeport, Harmony No. 67 New Canaan, Temple No. 65 Westport, Jerusalem No. 49 Ridgefield, Ark No. 39 Georgetown, St John’s No. 8 Stratford, Union No. 5 Stamford, St John’s No. 3 Bridgeport, St. John’s No. 6 Norwalk.
Fifth Division: Blue lodges led by Police Square Club of New York City, Leonard DeVinci No. 937 Brooklyn, Grannatan No. 927 Bronxville, Pleasantville No. 886 Pleasantville, John Stewart No. 871 Mount Vernon, Winya No. 866 Pelham, Apawamis No. 80 Mamaroneck, Kisco No. 708 Mt. Kisco, Marble No. 702 Tuckahoe, Mamory No. 653 Port Chester, White Plans No. 473 White Plains, Hiawatha No. 434 Mount Vernon, Hugenot No. 46 New Rochelle, followed by the Masonic World War Veterans of Brooklyn, New York.
Six Division: Acacia No. 85 Greenwich: Frank L. Wilder, Grand Master and Grand Officers of the Grand Lodge of Connecticut. A platoon of Stamford police brought up the rear of the parade. There were six bands, one of them being the famous Seventh Regiment band of New York City and a fife and drum corps. The Seventh Regiment band was in full dress uniform and led Acacia Lodge. Hon. Everett L. Lake, Governor of Connecticut and his staff with three hundred specially invited guests, local public officials and heads of fraternal organizations reviewed the parade from a stand erected in front of the Y.M.C.A. building.
When the procession reached the site of the Temple Grand Master Frank L. Wilder proceeded to lay the corner stone. He was assisted by the associate officers. Space was reserved for visiting members and members of Acacia, but the police were taxed to their utmost to keep the eager public from pushing too close. The corner stone is a block of Vermont marble weighing 1,750 pounds and presented by Irwin & Hencheliffe of Greenwich. A recess cut in the block was the receptacle for a sealed silver box presented by Brother Isaac M. Hubbard, the contents of which are described below. The trowel with which the Grand Master Wilder spread the cement under the corner stone is of silver presented by Bro. George L. Geibel properly engraved and now in the glass case in the ante-room of the lodge. It was a wonderful occasion: three thousand men in line and two thousand entertained at lunch in a great tent erected on the grounds. And the cinema operator taking moving pictures from every angle has given future generations the opportunity to view it when a century hence the films are taken from the boxes in the attic of the temple to be thrown upon the screen. And yet it is possible that a century hence the cinema art will have so far advanced that such old fashioned films may be useless.
Acacia Lodge had appointed Brother M. George Thompson and Stephen L. Radford a committee to collect the documents to be placed in the corner stone, which were sealed in the silver box. They consisted of the following. Program of the day of laying the corner stone. Photograph of Luke A. Lockwood first Master of Acacia Lodge and first president of the Masonic Temple Corporation. Photograph of Dr. Albert E. Austin present Master of Acacia Lodge. Photograph of George G. McNall Past Grand Master of Connecticut. Photograph of Rev. M. George Thompson Past Grand Chaplain of Connecticut. Other photographs were of the officers of Acacia Lodge No. 85, Past Master of Acacia, Officers of Lockwood Chapter No. 52 R.A.M., Officers of the Masonic Club, the Masonic Quartet, officers of the Eastern Star No. 93, Masonic building committee, Joseph P. Crosby Master Builder, Robert R. Houston architect, Fred G.C. Smith supervising architect, photograph of former lodge room on corner Putnam and Greenwich Avenues, Lodge room on Havemeyer Place, history of Acacia Lodge, story of the building of the Temple, story of the land upon which it stands, dedication service of memorial windows in Christ Church, Report of Masonic Home, By-laws and list of members of Acacia Lodge 1922, by-laws and roster of Eastern Star 1922, by-laws and roster of Lockwood Chapter 1922, by-laws of masonic club, coin of Lockwood Chapter, copy of Grand Lodge proceedings of Connecticut, list of Town and Borough officials, copies of local papers, copy of New York Times, coins of the country, Honor Roll, World War Medal given to World War Veterans by the Town of Greenwich, United States Flag.
Exactly one year after the laying of the corner stone the temple building was completed and ready for dedication. The dedication of the new lodge room took place of October 15, 1923. This lodge building was erected for the purpose of providing a permanent lodge for Acacia Lodge No. 85. In 1926 when Brother Frederick Hubbard finished his history book, “Masonry in Greenwich,” he ended it with a paragraph, writing, “The click of billiard balls is heard and there is merry laughter or profound and sedate arguments over public affairs in the cheerful club room. And how important to this side of it have been the ministrations of the superintendent Brother Jacob Harrison. He is at perfect ease in evening clothes and he is a delight under a white apron amid the aroma of an elaborate turkey dinner. The year 1925 closes with Worshipful Brother Clarence E. Palmer in the East with bright prospects for the future.” Alas, for particularly unknown reasons the members of Acacia Lodge No. 85 sold the large and spacious Temple, meant to be a permanent home for Masons in Greenwich, in 1948. A new Lodge building was purchased in the Byram section of Greenwich soon afterward, now known as the Archibald or BANC building on Delavan Avenue.
The members of Acacia Lodge continued to meet at this building until in 1978 they also sold the BANC building which ended up in the possession of the Archibald’s whose estate provided that the building be perpetually used for public purposes after their death. As a result of the building sale in 1978, that same year the lodge held its meetings at the Darien Masonic Temple at 354 Post Road in Darien. This continued for over thirty years when in 2008 the brothers of Acacia Lodge agreed that is was time to return home to Greenwich. A large black-tie event was put on and attended by many of the brothers throughout New York and Fairfield County. The lodge made arrangements with the governing board of directors of the Archibald building and rented the entire second floor of that building (the same building the lodge had sold in 1978). The upstairs space provided a large lodge room and dining room for its members. The lodge has continued to initiate and raise members to the sublime degree of a Master Mason since 1857. Today the membership of the lodge comprises people of all walks of life from town. Members are engaged in town as town employees, business owners, surveyors and civil engineers, financial advisors, electricians, retired police officers and executives as well as financial directors for major corporations. The primary characteristic of Freemasonry set apart from other organizations in town is that (1) it is the oldest; (2) it brings men from town that are of different opinions, skills sets and walks of life and makes them a single unit of brothers meeting on the level; and (3) it is primarily a teaching institution. For no other organization was raised on better principles or a more solid foundation than that of Freemasonry. It has stood the test of time, has admitted many worthy and notable citizens into its ranks and continues to be a place of spiritual and fraternal refuge in all periods of history and time across all continents.
In 2017 Acacia Lodge No. 85 decided to sever its ties to the BANC building management and look for a new home. While a new home was being searched for the lodge met at the temple building in New Canaan at 231 Main Street. During 2017 the lodge celebrated its 160th Anniversary by holding a Saint John’s Day dinner at the Putnam Cottage and burial a one-hundred year old time capsule at Christ Church to be opened on the 250th anniversary of Acacia Lodge. In February of this year, after developing a positive and productive relationship with the Daughters of the American Revolution, Acacia Lodge signed a lease to meet at the old Putnam Cottage (Knapp Tavern) for the 2018 year. As the members of Acacia Lodge No. 85 continue their search for another permanent home in Greenwich, it has gone back to its most ancient roots in town and meets every second and fourth Tuesday at the Putnam Cottage in the old tavern room where the countless Patriot citizens and soldiers from Greenwich and the surrounding area, including President John Adams and George Washington, sat, ate and drank together. After one-hundred and ninety-five years Freemasons continue to call Putnam Cottage, that craddle of Masonry in Greenwich, home.