Palestine Lodge No. 357

History

On December 20, 1880, a number of brethren, formerly members of Detroit Lodge No. 2, met in the Masonic Hall for the purpose of of taking formal action in the organization of a new lodge in Detroit. Following are the names signing the original roll. They are the ones who laid the foundation of Palestine Lodge.

 

Joseph T. Lowery

J. Humphrey, Jr.

William C. Colburn

John Moore

Edward Mayes

Fred Bamford

J.P. Donaldson

O. H. Voight

William F. Moore

William M. Mylne

F. H .A. Backus

H. H. Veazie

George E. Andrews

A.G. Alexander

F. W. Noble

Charles K. Ward

James W. Romeyn

W. T. Ryan

W. H. Rouse

J. W. Kermott

N. J. Hubbell

J. B. Stanley

W. H. Mitchell

Hugh Walker

W. T. Jupp

J. D. McPherson

M. H. Godfrey

W. H. Smith

Charles B. Hull

Charles L. Wilson

A. J. Rodgers

Alex Morrison

M. W. Hall

Edward Telfer

B. Vernor

E. H. Shook

 

A second meeting was held on January 3, 1881, for the purpose of electing officers. It was decided to name the new lodge "Palestine." The following brothers were then elected officers for the ensuing Masonic year: William F. Moore, W.M.; J. T. Lowery S.W.; Edward Telfer, J.W.; E. Mayes, Treasurer; M.W. Hall, Secretary; H. H. Veazie, S.D.; J. D. McPherson, J.D.

It was decided that each brother taking part in the formation of the new lodge be requested to contribute five dollars as a donation, and also pay one year's dues of two dollars in advance, as it was necessary to raise a fund to defray expenses of procuring a charter, clothing, etc.

On February 8, 1881, Palestine Lodge was duly initiated by the Grand Lodge of Michigan. Worthy of note is the fact that Palestine Lodge was the first and only lodge in Michigan to receive its charter without the formality of working under dispensation. Another notable fact is that Palestine received the favored numbers 3-5-7 - due to the labors of the officers of the new lodge.

On June 16, 1881, while peaceably engaged in conferring the First Degree, visitors were announced and admitted. They proved to be a delegation from Palestine Commandery, Knights Templar, of New York City, after which Palestine Lodge was named. In impressive speeches by the Eminent Commander and others, Palestine Lodge was presented with a finely bound copy of the Holy Bible, and square and compasses. Also, a unique silver-inscribed Gavel or Setting Maul. The head was made from an olive wood knot, the handle of Acacia wood, cut in the Holy Land.

"The first few years of Palestine were difficult. Frequently at the regular, they had to 'pass the hat' around the lodge room and take up a collection to pay the bills."

There was a big celebration on the tenth anniversary (membership 195). The main purpose being for the presentation to the first Master, a beautiful gold and diamond Past Master's jewel - the one given him at the end of his term being an inexpensive silver one, the best the lodge could afford at the time.

During the next few years Palestine grew steadily, both in membership and financially, with a membership at the turn of the twentieth century of over 600.

In 1897 the lodge paper, "The Palestine Bulletin" was started. It didn't amount to much for several years, but as Palestine grew, so grew the Bulletin, in size and in importance, until it became one of the leading lodge papers of the country. In 1921 the name was changed to "The Palestiner." The same year Palestine Lodge discovered that an emblem exists which has been the symbol of Palestine, the Holy Land for eight hundred years. Thereupon it was adopted as the badge and emblem of this lodge. The emblem is the so-called Palestine Cross, or Jerusalem Cross, which was the device in the coat-of-arms of the crusader kings of Jerusalem.

In 1904 there was a banquet in the drill hall of the Masonic Temple on Lafayette Avenue. Attending were 900 members of Palestine 357. The occasion was the raising of the 1000th  member of Palestine Lodge. This marked the beginning of a tremendous growth and enthusiasm for Palestine and Masonry. This lasted for the next twenty years.

In 1914 Palestine left the temple on Lafayette and purchased a home of it's own. Having researched and looking at several potential homes it was decided to make an offer, which was consequently accepted for the magnificent old residence of General R. A. Alger on the northwest corner of Fort and First Streets. It was remodeled at considerable expense and became a wonderful Lodge and Club House for many years. The spacious facilities and homelike atmosphere of the Club House made possible an unusual degree of good fellowship among not only the members but also their families. Enjoyable recollections of the formal and informal gatherings there remained as fond memories for those who were members during those years. Also, about this time the Palestine Woman's Association was formed - and what a splendid job they did during the war, for the benefit of our boys in the service.

On 19 May 1915 Palestine Chapter 159  was Chartered by a group of Palestine men, and the Lodge and Chapter have been "cousins" ever since.

In 1921 the Palestine Veterans' Association was formed.  This unique organization acted as sort of a backbone within the Lodge, with its deep interest and influence in in all lodge affairs. The "old boys" would come down for a banquet twice a year, exchange reminiscences and bring back memories of the early days and early members. They had that longing, that urge to come down and renew acquaintances and visit with the old, close friends of 30, 40 or 50 years ago, many of whom they never see at any other time. Sentiment? Yes, but that's our heritage. This, members and brothers of all the ages should take into consideration and take to heart. With this "old" idea in mind we will see more and more of the more mature members come down and pursue this same path as these brothers and fellows have done before.

Palestine kept growing until the late 1920's when it reached its' peak - over 4800 members - the Largest lodge in the world. Wherever Masonry was known, Palestine and bigness were synonymous.     

And then came the Great Depression. Palestine suffered like everything and everyone else. Several hundred members were compelled to drop out. Some resigned, others were suspended for Non Payment. Impacted by the resulting loss of revenues, Palestine was forced to give up the Lodge House on Fort Street in 1935 and moved into the Masonic Temple.

Whilst performing research of Palestine History in 2004, I came across another Canadian Masonic Lodge of which one of our members was also a member. Located in Alberta, Canada, there was an old relationship. I started a communication with my WB Michael Drummond, which eventually led to a visitation from Palestine 357 by the sitting Worshipful Master of Palestine 357 WB Michael Booth, to Palestine 46 in 2009 to commemorate the visitation and presentation in 1909. At this time Palestine 46 was presented with a new Lodge Bible to replace the one presented to Palestine 46 by Palestine 357 100 years prior. To learn more history click on the name, Palestine Lodge #46, Tofield.

In addition, as most of you are aware, we have a Sister Lodge, located near Hamilton, Ontario. The history of how we came to know each other has been Revived!  With many appreciative thanks to Worshipful Brother John A. Scott of Waterdown Lodge 357, the forthcoming is the History of how Palestine 357 and Waterdown 357 became acquainted and how our visitations came about.

In January of 1963, W. Bro. Earl Colyer, who was the Worshipful Master of Waterdown Lodge, was on a business trip in Detroit. He had never had the opportunity of attending an American Lodge, and so, one evening, having completed his work, he decided that this was a good time to do just that. Arriving at the Temple, he entered the lobby and found it deserted. After waiting a few minutes, and seeing no sign of habitation, W. Bro. Colyer decided that there were no meetings being held that evening. He was just about to depart when one of the elevator doors opened and a man stepped into the lobby. W. Bro. Earl Colyer introduced himself and discovered that he had met Bro. Earl Harris. The brothers enjoyed a touch of levity over the names, W. Bro Colyer then inquired if any meetings were being held that evening. Bro. Earl Harris, the Senior Warden of Palestine Lodge, replied that his Lodge was in session at that time, and that he had come down to the lobby to get some cigarettes, and if W. Bro. Colyer would wait for just a moment he would take him up to Lodge. Imagine the surprise of W. Bro. Colyer, upon entering the Lodge to find that it was numbered 357, the same number as Waterdown Lodge. A strong fraternal friendship developed between the two Earls, and was the basis for visitations, which have continued ever since. A visit was made to Detroit in 1964 and again in 1967. Palestine visited Waterdown Lodge in 1965.  One year we travel to Hamilton and then two years later our brothers from Waterdown make the tedious trek to visit us. If you would like see their webpage click the name. Waterdown 357.

Our Brother Kevin Washchuk was in the Atlanta Ga. area for a Historical Preservation Seminar in 2007 and visited a Lodge named Palestine 486, being drawn of course by the name. Upon attending he discovered not only was the name the same. This Palestine Lodge was named after Palestine Lodge 357 in Detroit.

 

 

 

 

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