From the proceedings of the Most Worshipful Lodge of Tennessee – 1819.
“Ordered that a charter be issued to Libanus Lodge No. 29, Edwardsville, Illinois, upon receipt of their proceedings, provided it shall appear to the satisfaction of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge that they had been in conformity with the principles of Masonry.”
Under date of November 15, 1820, a letter was sent to Lodges in Illinois by Libanus Lodge No. 29, Edwardsville, Illinois, requesting that there should be measures taken with the several lodges of this state to form a Grand Lodge. A resolution was presented by members of Libanus Lodge No. 29 at a Masonic convention held on December 9, 1822, for the formation of a Grand Lodge for the State of Illinois. Members of Libanus Lodge No. 29 present at said convention were: Richard J. McKinney, Dennis Rockwell, John Y. Sawyer, Nathaniel Backmaster, William H. Hopkins and David Prickett.
Libanus Lodge No. 29 ceased to function during the anti-Masonic period which followed the Morgan incident. Masonic history shows that a lodge listed as Libanus Lodge No. 3, Edwardsville, Illinois, was chartered in the year of 1826 by the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Illinois, but no further information has been available.
Edwardsville Lodge No. 99
Edwardsville, Illinois, March 24, 1851.
On this evening Brothers John H. Weir, Henry K. Eaton, Matthew Gillespie, John A. Prickett, David Gillespie, James G. Gett, William Glass and Thomas O. Springer, Master Masons residing in Edwardsville, Madison County, Illinois and vicinity met in the Hall of the Sons of Temperance for the purpose of forming a Lodge at said place. After consultation, Brother John H. Weir was elected to be the first Master of said Lodge, Brother John A. Prickett to be the first Senior Warden and Brother Henry K. Eaton to be the first Junior Warden. A petition to the Grand Lodge of the State of Illinois, praying for a dispensation under the style of Edwardsville Lodge U. D., was then drawn up and signed by the Brethren present. The said Brethren had been recommended as Master Masons by the Officers and Brethren of Franklin Lodge No. 25, of Upper Alton, Illinois. On motion the meeting was adjourned.
The first meeting was held on April 10, 1851. Dispensation had been received from the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of the State of Illinois. Worshipful Brother Weir appointed the following Officers to serve during that year:
- Brother M. Gillespie – Treasurer
- Brother David Gillespie – Secretary
- Brother James G. Gett – Senior Deacon
- Brother Thomas O. Springer – Junior Deacon
- Brother William Glass – Tyler
The petition for a charter was granted by the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge in annual communication on October 5, 1851. No. 99 was assigned to Edwardsville Lodge. The new Lodge was started with fourteen members. Brother Charles W. Crocker was the first initiate.
The first meeting place was the Odd Fellows Hall located at Main and College streets. In December 1868 the Lodge moved to the third floor of the building on northwest corner of Purcell and Main street which is now the Madison County Administration Building. In 1927 the Lodge moved to the present Masonic Temple located at Hillsboro and Commercial streets.
The Masonic Temple was erected during the years of 1926 and 1927, after many years of careful planning, at a cost of $52,000.00. A bond issue of $20,000.00 was floated to complete payment of the Temple. The last bond of this issue was retired on January 17, 1947, a record which all were justly proud of.
Many of our members have served their Country and Lodge with distinction and credit to the Craft. Down through the years Edwardsville Lodge made no spectacular gains in membership, but a steady normal increase. With the stock market crash in the fall of 1929 and the resultant economic depression during the early 1930’s Edwardsville Lodge did not escape its effects and our membership dropped. During these years our Lodge treasury was severely taxed due to calls for Masonic relief and payments on the Temple indebtedness. In spite of all this we remained solvent and met all of our obligations. In 1942 when unemployment was reduced to a minimum, it was reflected on our receipts by reinstatements of old members who had dropped out for non-payment of dues and a substantial increase of new members who knocked at our door and were admitted.
The Next Chapter
For many Masonic Lodges, the beautiful, grand old buildings erected nearly a century ago have become more costly to maintain and keep updated than today’s membership numbers will allow. While buildings may have long been paid off, Lodges can easily find its membership dues going solely toward keeping these large buildings heated, cooled and lit, leaving very little to do the charitable work within the community that Freemasons believe in so strongly.
During the early 2000’s, Edwardsville Lodge #99 was beginning to find itself in this position. With several necessary building updates and repairs ahead, the membership began weighing options and considering the sale of the building.
Although the past couple years have been great for membership, it was time to take a closer, harder look at moving into a newer, more manageable, more appropriately-sized location. There were two primary thoughts behind this decision: 1.) Being in a newer, smaller building that would require less maintenance would free up money that could be used to pursue more charitable endeavors around our community, and 2.) We wanted future generations to be free for more important work and not focused on keeping the Lodge building itself usable.
By mid-June, 2015 a contract was ready to sign. On Thursday, June 18, a special meeting was held to vote on the sale. With the building meaning so much to so many people, it was not an easy decision. However, the vote was passed with a majority, acknowledging that this was the right decision for the future generations of our Lodge.
In late August 2015, we completed the purchase of our new building, located directly behind Walmart in Glen Carbon. Previously the building accommodated Montessori Glen-Ed. Edwardsville Lodge #99 is excited about what the future holds for us in our new location. We endeavor to become even more active within our local community and continue striving to be examples of morality and positive character among our families, friends and strangers alike.