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A Blast from the Past into the Future

By William M. Ferrell

Of the eight lodges that comprise Crow Canyon 551, Bay View 401 is the oldest. You might ask, if it was chartered in 1909, why didn’t we celebrate 24 years ago? According to the wishes of the first committee to merge Castro Valley 713 and Bay View 401, it was agreed to drop the 401 number in favor of Castro Valley’s 713 number. This means the history of Bay View would be lost! I can’t let that happen. So, here we go with the beginning and foundation of Bay View Lodge.

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 as the 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 also held in Golden Gate Hall on September 3rd and 10th. During the second meeting, the hall committee announced that they had found a hall in the Golden Gate Building to rent for $20.00 a month. The brethren subscribed and paid $475.00 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 for recommendation.

The third meeting was dedicated 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 26th. 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 – held their respective chairs when the

lodge filed its first returns under dispensation. They were still in office when it received its charter.

However, the membership had changed considerably. Between the signing of the petition and the filing of the first returns under dispensation, their numbers climbed from 16 to 29. By the time the charter was granted, the membership 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 listed 541 members.

Beyond that, however, little is known of Bay View’s history or the men who comprised it. To date, no biographical material has been made available on either count, and I haven’t been able to find who served as lodge master in 1920.

Reminder: if you have any additional information about Bay View Lodge, please email me at:

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