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Our History


The history of Ashland Lodge No. 168 begins with the communication of the Grand Lodge in December 1857, when the charter was granted, dated December 15, 1857. According to their published history, before December 1857, Masons met in an open Lodge at Ashland by dispensation given September 7, 1857, from Dove Lodge No. 51 in Richmond, Virginia. However, no record has yet been found to substantiate this dispensation. The first officers were:


J. Alonzo Smith,                      Worshipful Master

Langdon C. Berkley               Senior Warden

Richard W. Fox                      Junior Warden.


On November 28, 1857, the second meeting of the Lodge was held, and the bill for furnishing the Lodge room was referred to a committee to set the amount to be paid to J. W. Taylor to cover the cost involved. The bylaws of Dove Lodge No. 51 were adopted as far as was practicable. At the called meeting on March 27, 1858, Ashland Lodge No. 168 was consecrated, and the officers were installed under the charter granted by the Grand Lodge of Virginia in December 1857. The Lodge room at this time was over Taylors Store, but in April 1859, the Lodge leased the hall owned by Brother William Thompson for three years. The rent was $20.00 a year, beginning January 1, 1860. By resolution, dues were remitted for members who were absent in the service of the State. During the Civil War, meetings were not always held due to the lack of sufficient members or the presence of the Northern Army nearby. It is interesting to note that there is evidence that, on occasion, soldiers of the Union Army attended the Lodge meetings.


In those days, the moon cycle determined the day each stated communication was to be held. There was also a stated communication on each day of St John the Baptist festival and St. John the Evangelist. At the indicated communication in October 1863, on motion of Brother J. W. Taylor, S. O. Sale and John S. James were appointed as a committee to wait on the Methodist Church members to use a part of the church building for a Lodge room. Reverend George W. Nolley, minister of the Church, stated that the church would give the Lodge a perfect title of the upper part of the church. Similar interest in the lot upon which the church stood, provided that the Lodge would raise the upper floor eighteen inches and suitably fit the lower floor for church purposes.

Troubles of discord plagued this Lodge in the early part of 1870, and, as a result, the charter was surrendered to the Grand Lodge of Virginia. The charter was again granted on December 13, 1870. The communication committee appointed in May 1871 to inquire into the propriety of purchasing the property known as the Ashland Free Church made its report. Brother S. C. Redd stated that the Methodist Church would take seventy-five dollars for their part; the Baptists, thirty dollars; the Presbyterians, thirty dollars; and the Episcopalians donated their interest. The Presbyterians and the Episcopalians requested the Lodge to allow them to use the lower floor of the building for their place of worship. It is interesting to note that the Ashland Free Church was the first church in the town of Ashland. It had been built in 1853 and used by the denominations mentioned above as their house of worship. The Methodists relocated to the campus of Randolph-Macon College in the building known today as the Old Chapel. The Baptists built their place of worship in 1858, and today is the oldest church building in use in the town. 

 In 1875 the Lodge received a letter from the congregation of the Ashland Presbyterian Church stating that they were vacating the room used for their worship services and expressed their appreciation for its use. The Episcopalian congregation continued to use the space until 1876. On October 31, 1876, the Lodge voted to give the pulpit and benches to the Episcopalians to be used in their Anew building which was being erected. The pews are still in use in the church of St. James the Less (Episcopal). The Lodge decided to purchase the property known as the Ashland Free Church, the cost of which included repairs to the property not to exceed $600.00. The money was borrowed from Mrs. Charlotte Stebbins; the interest rate was 10 percent. Through the years, the Lodge offered its lower floor for the use of education. In the minutes, it is noted that the Ashland School Board rented this room, as did Miss Jennie Rice, who used it as a school.


In February 1905, the date of the regular stated communication was changed to the third Thursday of each month. A committee was appointed to plan a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Lodge. December 19, 1907, was the meeting of the Jubilee Year. The building committee made its report, which consisted of the following recommendations:

  1. Condition of the present building was such that improvements were not wise.

  2. Recommended the erection of a new Masonic temple, the cost not to exceed $2,500.00, which includes all fixtures, additional improvements to the grounds, and all expenses of any kind incident to moving into the new building.

  3. If there is not enough money to finish the building, the first-floor interior will be left out for the present.

  4. A voluntary contribution of not less than $10.00 be solicited from the membership.

  5. That the eastern portion of the lot, not to exceed one-half, be sold for $1,000.00.

  6. Dues to the Lodge be raised to $6.00 annually.

At the stated communication on May 21, 1908, the contract for the construction of the new building was given to W. H. Perrin of Ashland for the sum of $2,489.00, which did not include fixtures for lights or plumbing, not unforeseen extras, which amounted to about $175.00. Dr. J. O. Hart was the first tenant in the new building. Later tenants were Dr. Hugh Russell, Dr. William C. Webb, and Dr. Haley.


According to the minutes, the Lodge occupied its new building at the stated communication on December 17, 1908. A housewarming was held on December 22, 1908, to which the public was invited.

On September 16, 1948, Right Worshipful W. K. Saunders made a new set of working tools, which he presented to the Lodge.


At the March 1949 stated communication, the question of making the Lodge room available to the Order of the Eastern Star was brought up and approved.


In 1957 the Lodge celebrated its one-hundredth Anniversary. At this and other important occasions, the Lodge has been honored with visits from the Grand Master of Masons in Virginia and other distinguished officers of the Fraternity. In 1986-87 the Lodge had the rare honor of having a father, Norman L. Cage, precede his son, W. Thomas Cage, through the chairs and as Worshipful Masters in successive years. Also, during its history, the Lodge has laid the cornerstone of many area buildings.

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