Historical Sketch of Henry Lodge No. 57
This historical sketch was produced for the 125th Anniversary Celebration of Henry Lodge No. 57, October 8, 1994.
Masonry in Fairfax, Virginia began on May 30, 1849 when a dispensation was given by the Grand Master of Masons in Virginia to form a Lodge at the Fairfax Courthouse. On December 12, 1849 a charter was issued to Henry Masonic Lodge No. 40 A.F. & A.M. This Lodge was in existence until December of 1855.
Request for the Formation of a New Lodge Approved in 1869
On March 4, 1869 a petition was read in Andrew Jackson Lodge No. 120, requesting approval for the formation of a new Lodge at the Fairfax Courthouse. A motion was made and approved and on March 5, 1869 the District Deputy Grand Master gave his approval.
In the original petition the name of the Lodge was to be Worthington, after its charter Master, John Y Worthington, but the name Worthington was crossed out and the name Henry substituted above it. A note on the outside of the petition explains the substitution
"The name of Henry is substituted for Worthington as we have already a set of Jewels belonging to a private individual marked Henry Lodge."
On March 15, 1869 a regular communication of Henry Lodge, under dispensation, was held at its Hall at the Fairfax Courthouse. On December 15, 1869 Henry Lodge was given the number 57 and chartered by the Grand Lodge of Virginia. The number 57 previously had been held by George Washington Lodge in Berryville, Clark County, Virginia.
There was a very prominent "Henry" connected with the Lodge from its earliest years. One of the petitioners of the new Lodge was a Henry W. Thomas, who had been a member, although not a founding member, of Henry Lodge No. 40 in Fairfax, Virginia. Brother Henry W. Thomas was born October 20, 1 812. He became a lawyer, and then Commonwealth's Attorney in 1838 at the age of 26. He was a member of the Virginia House of Delegates from 1841-42 and again from 1847-48. He continued his legislative service to the Commonwealth in the Virginia Senate, serving from 1850-63 and from 1871-75. He also was a Judge on the Ninth Circuit Court and served as Lt. Governor. He died at his home in Fairfax a bit shy of his 78th Birthday on June 23, 1890. Tradition has it that Brother Thomas would not lend his surname to the Lodge but consented to the use of Henry and that the Lodge was named after this good brother. A search of the old records of the Lodge does not support this story and we have not found any written record of a "Henry" for whom the Lodge was named.
The minutes make mention that the Lodge rented a building from a Mrs. M. A. Stephenson from late 1869 to the end of December 1876. Then, from January 1877 through the summer of 1885, the Lodge rented the Hall of Providence Lodge No.3, Independent Order of Good Templars, a temperance society. From 1885 to June 1899, the Lodge Hall was in space rented from a Mr. Hawxhurst whose store and post office was directly across Route 123 from the Courthouse. This spot was recently the location of a gas station owned by Brother Munday. Mr. Hawxhurst's building burned to the ground sometime before June 24, 1899, and the Lodge then met in the jury room of the Courthouse until July 1900.
July 1900 also saw the completion of the Fairfax Town Hall, built by Brother Joseph E. Willard. In a deed dated July 30, 1900 and recorded October 22,1900, Joseph E. Willard and his wife, Belle L. Wyatt Willard, conveyed to the trustees of Fairfax Town Hall, a lot of land, together with the Town Hall, but conveyance included a number of trusts. The first trust required the trustees "to permit the Masonic organization of Henry Lodge No. 57 to hold its regular and special meetings in the upper room of said Hall and to have exclusive use of the small northeast room on the second floor of said Hall."
By the early 1960's the lack of parking, the poor condition of the facilities and problems with the trustees concerning the use of the Hall prompted the Lodge to consider moving once again. On February 15, 1968 the Lodge sold its property on University Drive in the City of Fairfax to the Fairfax Chapter of the American Red Cross. On October 24, 1968 the Lodge bought lots 2, 3, 4, and 5 of Section 4 of Fairfax Acres on which to erect a new Lodge Hall.
Plans for the construction of a Temple went forward and on March 10, 1970 a permit was issued for the building that, it was estimated, would cost $51,466. Contributions to the building fund continued and on September 4, 1970 the note was paid off and canceled giving the Lodge clear title to its property.
On the next day, September 5, 1970, the cornerstone was laid with appropriate ceremony by the District Deputy Grand Master, Rt. Wor. James W. Maley, with the oration given most eloquently by Rt. Wor. Charles A. Sinclair Jr., Grand Lecturer. The minutes of the September 5, 1970 called communication record the list of articles placed in the cornerstone to include a copy of the Lodge charter, a copy of the History of Henry Lodge presented on its 100th anniversary on December 15, 1969, two "One Hundredth Anniversary Medallions" and a set of U.S. coins from 1969.
Finally, on June 8, 1971, well into its 101st year of existence, the building was ready for occupancy and Henry Lodge held its first meeting in its new temple at 10503 Oak Place in Fairfax, Virginia and, at that meeting, raised Brother Walter Leyton Stephons to the degree of Master Mason.
During the first century of continuous existence, Henry Lodge No. 57 was in three different Masonic Districts. From 1869 to 1913 the Lodge was in District 1. A portion of our records was lost but in 1919 Henry Lodge was in District 54. In 1936 Henry Lodge requested a transfer from District 54 to District 58. It was suggested that Henry Lodge was a country or rural Lodge unlike Columbia and Cherrydale Lodges that were considered to be "city" Lodges and also that qualified members of Henry Lodge were being passed over for the Office of District Deputy Grand Master. The request was granted in February 1937 when Henry joined Acacia, Herndon, Manasseh and Drinkard (Haymarket) Lodges as a member of District 58. At the end of its first century, Henry Lodge Masons were as active, proficient and sophisticated as any "city" Masons, but, with traffic and congestion being what they were in Fairfax, the good old days of being considered a country or rural Lodge seem regretfully, gone forever.
Lodge Celebrates 125 Years of Continuous Service to the City of Fairfax
On October 8, 1994, Henry Lodge is celebrating 125 years of continuous service to the city of Fairfax and to the Commonwealth of Virginia. A reenactment of the cornerstone laying will be performed. A time capsule will be made for the occasion and its "burial" is being witnessed by a sizable throng of members and friends.
In November of 1994, Henry Lodge will become a part of District No. 4. The decision to merge the 5 lodges of District No. 58 with District No. 4 was made during the term of Most Worshipful Werner Herman Morlock. The Grand Lodges proceedings in Roanoke on November 14,1994, will finalize the action and District No. 58 will become history. The 5 lodges join Mt. Carmel Lodge in Warrenton, Virginia to make the "new" No. 4.
Appreciation is extended to the committee appointed by Wor. Hank Hodges to review available documents and to prepare this historical sketch: