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Prologue to Lodge History


I was asked to write a history of our lodge. To give a good accounting I needed to start at the beginning of each of the eight lodges that comprise Crow Canyon No. 551. The oldest being Bay View No. 401, as we journey through the Grand Lodge communications and the four volumes of “One hundred Years of Freemasonry in California” we find a unique brotherhood of friendships and common interest and possible discourses that might have been at the beginning of these lodges. In some cases there is a detailed accounting of the lodge formation and others there is only what I can find in the Grand Lodge communications (including misspelled words). So, here we go I hope you find this information useful. If you have anything to add, feel free to contact me.

William M. Ferrell - Last Updated 3/2/19

Bay View Lodge No. 401

On the evening of September 1, 1908 sixteen Master Masons gathered in Golden Gate Hall, in Oakland, for the first of a series of three meetings preliminary to organizing a new lodge. After choosing Harry Edward Brittingham as chairman, And Carroll H. Whitten as secretary, they agreed that the proposed lodge be called “Bay View.” Next, they chose Leroy W. Potter for its first Master, Gwyn Harvey Baker for Senior Warden, and Robert Stanton Wixon for Junior Warden. Then after a brief recess, they all signed a petition for dispensation. And as a final order of business, a committee composed of Potter, Whitten and Wixon was appointed to obtain “a safe and suitable Lodge room.

The second and third meetings were held in the same hall on September 3 and 10.

At the second, the hall committee announced that it had found a hall in the Golden Gate Building at a rent of $20.00 a month. The brethren subscribed and paid $475 toward organizing expenses and appointed Brittingham as temporary treasurer. Demits were put into order and the petition for dispensation was sent to Live Oak, Oakland, Brooklyn, and Sequoia Lodges, all of Oakland, for recommendation.

The third meeting was given to final arrangements. The previously mentioned Lodges had gladly recommended the petition for dispensation, which was sent to the Grand Secretary.

It was too late, however, for the incumbent Grand Master George M. Perine, to act on the petition prior to the next annual Communication of Grand Lodge. And well over a month elapsed before the new Grand Master, Oscar Lawler, could grant it on October 26. Therefore, Bay View Lodge had almost a full year to prove its proficiency in the work before it received its charter on October 14, 1909.

Bay View’s original officers – Potter, Baker and Wixon – were in their respective chairs when the lodge filed its first returns under dispensation. They were still there when it received its charter.

But the membership had changed considerably. Between the signing of the petition and the filing of the first returns under dispensation it climbed from 16 to 29. By the time the charter was granted, it had more than doubled itself, jumping to 79 members. Since then, save a drop from 405 to 307 between 1930 and 1940, it climbed steadily. The 1949 Roster showed it with 541 members.

Beyond that, however, little is known of Bay View’s history or the men who made it. Up to date, no biographical material has been made available on either.

Living Members of Our Lodge Who Came From Bay View  No 401.


  • Leonard Ambrose of Walnut Creek, CA

  • Lester Bridge of Livermore, CA

  • Billy Bryant of Coeur D Alene, ID

  • Donald Goodman of Burlingame, CA

  • Mark Kahn of Blackhawk, CA

  • Richard Keihner of Lafayette, CA

  • Johnnie Laney of Punta Gorda, FL

  • Royle Langton of Tecumseh, MI

  • Paul Leiber of San Francisco, CA

  • James Luque of San Leandro, CA

  • Paul Makela of Oakland, CA

  • John McCarthy of Elk Grove, CA

  • William Newton of Alpharetta, GA

  • Russell Porter of Arlington, TX

  • Thomas Robertson of Manteca, CA

  • Harold Rubin of Alamo, CA

  • Leonard Suokko of San Leandro, CA

Is your name (our your spouse's name) on this list?  Share your memories about Bay View  No 401 and we will add them to this history.


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Epilogue to Lodge History


Now that we have the history of each lodge, one might ask “what happened to cause this decline. That has been a question that has been debated for many years, so I won’t dare to get into that. So I made a chart that shows each lodge with its original name and number, and with the flow of the lodges as they went through the process (don’t know if it helps).


As you read Chateau Thierry was located in downtown Oakland. In the mid 1970’s Oakland went through an urban renewal or rebuilding of downtown area and Chateau Thierry membership decided to move to Castro Valley while the other lodges that met in Oakland decided to move to the new Oakland Masonic Center at 3903 Broadway. Bay View Lodge no. 401 met at the Oakland Scottish Rite building at 1547 Lakeside Drive, Oakland. Bay View Lodge No. 401 and Castro Valley Lodge No. 713 decided to merge and become Bay View – Castro Valley 713 on July 1, 1986. In June of 1986 the San Lorenzo Masonic center burned to the ground displacing Ashland No. 798. Ashland moved to the Castro Valley Masonic center and met on Friday nights.


After my junior Past Masters’ year in Chateau Thierry I became sectary and knew that my lodge was losing members to age and other social activities. At the time Castro Valley No. 713 and Chateau Thierry No. 569 were co-owners of the Castro Valley Masonic Temple. After informal discussions and getting to know each other, Bay View-Castro Valley, Chateau Thierry and Ashland Lodges under the direction of our District Inspector Worshipful Alan D. Weisser, formed a merge committee to discuss the possibility of consolidating of the three lodges. After five productive meetings it was decided that the newly consolidated Lodge would be Crow Canyon No. 569 and was established September 1992.


July 1, 1980 Lakeshore Lodge went in to an agreement with Diamond Lodge No. 603 and Lake Chabot Lodge No. 770 to become Tri-square no. 551. On October 1, 1986 Fremont Lodge No. 497 approached Tri-Square No. 551 to enter into a merger. According to Robert Peters who was secretary at the time welcomed the Fremont group, however, having recently merged with Diamond, Lake Chabot and Lakeshore lodges asked if they would be willing to merge without demands. Apparently they agreed and joined as Lakeshore No. 551.


1997: Lakeshore No. 551 contacted Crow Canyon No. 569 to inquire of they would be interested in discussing a merger of the two lodges. Both Lodge memberships agreed. Crow Canyon Lodge having a building and Lakeshore Lodge having a stable financial history it was agreed to retain the name Crow Canyon Lodge and to adopt the lower number of 551. Grand Lodge approved the merger September 1997 prior to the Grand Lodge

communication. At the time of the merger the consolidated lodge had a membership of 726 members. Also William Ferrell was asked to take the secretary’s job. Worshipful Robert Peters was moving to Washington State and Worshipful Donald Morris’ health prevented him from continuing.

This history overview is a work in progress. If you have any corrections of additions please let me know.

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