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HISTORY OF IOWA CITY LODGE #4

 

Masons first met in Iowa City January 13, 1842, at Dr.William Reynolds’ School Room where First Christian Church now sits along Iowa Avenue east of Old Capitol.

They received dispensation October 10, 1842, from the Masonic Grand Lodge of Missouri to confer degrees, received Missouri charter #63 in October 1843, hosted formation of the Masonic Grand Lodge of Iowa and received the #4 charter from it after its officers were installed January 8, 1844. The lodge in Burlington received charter #1, Muscatine #2 and Dubuque #3, in the same order they had received Missouri charters ahead of Iowa City .

Iowa City Masonic Lodge first met under its current Number 4 charter January 9, 1844, with Dr. Reynolds sitting as Master. Other officers included William B. Snyder, territorial superintendent of Old Capitol; Chauncey Swan, an inn keeper; James R. Hartsock, post master and subsequent Grand Master; and Charles Nagle, a businessman.

During its more than a century and a half of existence, Iowa City Lodge has met regularly in 15 locations, plus others for special-purpose meetings, as at Old Capitol and the annual outdoor lodge at Amana. All regular locations are in central Iowa City as the Secrest Building on the northeast corner of Clinton and Washington (the southeast corner of the Old Capitol Pentacrest) where the Grand Lodge of Iowa was formed. Other long-used locations were at 112 1/2 South Clinton Street , at the James Hartsock Building now the Dey (Iowa Book & Supply) Building site at Clinton and Iowa Avenue, and at the Morrison Block Building downtown where Black Hawk Minipark is situated today.

Since 1914 Iowa City Lodge has met in the current Temple at 312 East College Street . Built for about $35,000 during 1913 and 1914, construction was paid for in large part by selling the southwest corner of Clinton and College for a Crandic Railroad Depot. During the late 1970s $112,000 was spent to add an elevator, and during 1993 nearly $50,000 was spent to remodel the Lodge Room. The lodge property is now valued at $1.5 million.

Iowa City Masonic Lodge has spawned three other lodges during its lifetime — Zion in 1851 and Clarksville and Wm. Reynolds in 1968, and has absorbed two lodges, including Zion in 1880 and White Marble of North Liberty in 1955. Wm. Reynolds Lodge was merged into Clarksville in 1994.

A 1910 Grand Lodge of Iowa History calls Iowa City Lodge “that mother of Grand Masters.” The Lodge can claim six, James R. Hartsock in 1858 and 1859, Thomas Hart Benton Jr. in 1860, 1861 and 1862, Zephaniah C. Luse in 1877, George W. Ball in 1895 and 1896, Lars A. Larson in 1933 and Woodrow W. Morris in 1971. Capitol Lodge in Des Moines has five, but none more.