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A History of Our Lodge

By Bill Ferrell—Assistant Secretary

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 in 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. #AssistantSecretary551 #lodgehistory #8lodges #BayView401 #100Years #Freemasonry #GrandLodge #GrandLodgeofCA

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.” #Oakland #September01_1908 #GoldenGateHall #LeroyPotter #GwynBaker #RobertWixon

The next two meetings were held in the same hall on September 3 and 10.

On September 3rd, 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. #GrandLodgeDispensation

On September 10th, they finalized arrangements. The previously mentioned Lodges had gladly recommended the petition for dispensation which was sent to the Grand Secretary. #GrandSecretary

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. As a result it was well over a month later when the new Grand Master, Oscar Lawler granted the petition 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. #OopsTooLate #GottaWait #GrandLodgeCharter

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. #MembershipGrowth #DoubleDigitGrowth #StillinMyChair

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

Next month we look at Fremont Lodge.

To learn more or to share memories about Bay View visit our website! #LearnMore #ShareYourMemories

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