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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

Lakeshore Lodge No. 551

Lakeshore Lodge No. 551 of Oakland is a “neighborhood Lodge” in every sense of the word. As its historian, Past Master Joseph A. Sullivan, noted, it “was instated to serve the fast growing district north and east of Lake Merritt.” Most of its founders were home owners and commuters, “a closely-knit group readily amalgamated in fellowship that gave the lodge an excellent start.”

Lakeshore traces its history back to its first preliminary meeting held on February 8, 1923. This meeting, top heavy with official aid, was attended by four Inspectors of the East Bay District, whose advice undoubtedly gave the brethren the impetus they needed to complete all their organizational work in quick order. With Arthur Woodby Baker as their first Master, Joseph Augustine Sullivan as Senior Warden, and William Elbert Pitcher as Junior Warden, they received their Dispensation from Grand Master Sherman on March 27, 1923. Their charter followed seven months later, on October 11, 1923.

Lakeshore Lodge first met in the Community Center Hall at 712 Grand Avenue, where it was instituted on April 6, 1923. Then it met at the Brooklyn Masonic Temple that was at 807 East 14th St. Oakland.

For the first few years, Lakeshore’s membership kept pace with the growth of the surrounding neighborhood, increasing from 37 in 1923 to 208 in 1930. But during the depression years, it was not as unaffected as some of its sister Lodges across the bay. It slowly declined to 172 in 1938, after which it started upward – slowly at first, then picking up speed till it reached 257 members by 1949.

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

Living Members of Our Lodge Who Came From Lakeshore Lodge No. 551

There are no surviving members from Lakeshore Lodge No. 551

Share your memories about Lakeshore No. 551 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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