History of Santa Monica-Palisades Masonry
Santa Monica-Palisades lodge is currently celebrating its 125th Anniversary. The official date of the 125 years would have been on June 10th, 2016. The lodge was actually instituted and started meeting when it was issued a dispensation on June 10, 1891.
According to the 1891 Grand Lodge proceedings, the lodge met on the third Friday in each month. The first Master was Le Roy Decatur Brown, then superintendent of schools for Santa Monica. The first Senior Warden was William Templeman Gillis, from New Brunswick, Canada, who was a pharmacist and had a pharmacy in Santa Monica. The first Junior Warden was Niles Rathbon Folsom, a merchant in Santa Monica. Charles Scott Dales was the first Secretary and was also City Clerk and later City Assessor of Santa Monica. His sons were grocers in Santa Monica under the firm name of Dales Brothers. Abbot Kinney, the founder of Venice, was the lodge’s first Treasurer. Another charter member was Edwin Vawter who owned and operated one of Ocean Park’s first tourist attractions, the Ocean Park Floral Company. The Vawter family went on to establish Ocean Park’s first bank, the first water company, the first Presbyterian Church, and a horse car line connecting Ocean Park to the rest of Santa Monica.
The lodge was constituted at a ceremony at which its charter was presented. Officiating as the Grand Master during the ceremony was the local Inspector (of the then 25th District) who was Francis C. Woodbury, the founder of Woodbury College.
THE LOS ANGELES HERALD, 1891
Yesterday Santa Monica lodge U. D. of F. and A. M. was duly inaugurated. Many visiting brethren were present, among them being Prof. Woodbury, district deputy grand master. The new lodge room and its adjuncts are the equal of any in the state, the lodge sparing no expense that would make the future home of Masonry at the city by the sea an ideal one. The lodge is situated on the top floor of the Bank block, corner of Third and Oregon avenues. The main or assemblage room is 52 by 26 and the banquet hall, which is to the left, separated by folding doors, is 32 by 18. There are two ante-rooms, 10 by 14 and 16 by 18 respectively, with closets innumerable. The furniture, which is all of native woods, is after the most approved patterns, with blue plush curtains at the alcoves or windows, and with fine carpets on the floor, which makes it all that could be desired. At the appointed hour the lodge was duly started on its grand mission of inculcating the never-dying principles of the order which has withstood all the assaults of time and will live on to the end. The following are the charter members: Leroy Decatur Brown, Southern California lodge 278, California; William Templeau Gillis, New Caledonia lodge 11, Nova Scotia; Niles Rathbon Folsom, Tekamah lodge 31, Nebraska; Abbott Kinney, Pasadena lodge 272, California; Charles Scott Dale, Fairfield lodge 206, Illinois; Martin Henry Volkman, St. Andrews lodge 64, Connecticut; Marcus D. Feather, Richmond lodge 57, Missouri; Henry Clay Bagg, Southern California lodge 278, California; Julius I. Comstock, Morning Star lodge 10, Wisconsin; Charles Bergk, Pentalpha lodge 202, California; Frederick Klare, Southern California lodge 278, California; Hermann Evard Hasse, Southern California lodge lodge 278, California; Menzo B. Boyce, Southern California lodge 278, California; Charles Edwards Ferris, Capitol lodge 3, Nebraska; J. Elias Dunham, Lebanon lodge 26, Ohio; John Schaeffer, Lincoln lodge, Nebraska. Leroy D. Brown has been appointed master, W. T. Gillis, senior warden, and N. R. Folsom, junior warden of Santa Monica lodge by the dispensation.