When Mayor William D. Tate spoke March 5 at the 150th anniversary celebration of Masonic Lodge #288 A.F. & A.M., he proclaimed the date as Grapevine Masonic Lodge Day.
The proclamation stated, in part, that “whereas, for the past 150 years the Grapevine Masonic Lodge has faithfully served the community through civic involvement, volunteer service and charitable contributions and has provided stability and bonds of friendship that have strengthened the city of Grapevine and the state of Texas ... .”
On a more personal note, the longtime Mason told the crowd, “It’s probably the most significant paternal organization in North Texas throughout the years.”
The lodge, which boasts about 200 members ranging from a freshman at Texas A&M University to a retiree in his late 80s, invited the public to their celebration.
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The “Sesquicentennal Celebration” began with a gathering of about 150 people — about one for every year the lodge has called Grapevine home — at the Grapevine Convention & Visitors Bureau’s Grand Hall.
Leonard “Junior” Hall, a member for 51 years, gave a brief history of fellowship and service, adding over the years the lodge had fallen into a “pitiful” condition but remodeling had given it new life.
“It’s something beautiful to see,” he said. “We’ve got A/C now.”
The public was then invited to tour the lodge, located at 403 S. Main St. in Historic Downtown Grapevine.
She’s not a member, but I call her an observer because she observes me go out the door to meetings.
Jerome Weilmuenster, who joined the lodge in the early 1980s
Mason Jerome Weilmuenster, who is retired from the computer business, was accompanied by his wife Jacqueline, giving her a rare opportunity to tour the lodge.
“She’s not a member, but I call her an observer because she observes me go out the door to meetings,” said Weilmuenster, 73, who joined the lodge in the early 1980s.
Founded on March 3, 1866, the Grapevine Masonic Lodge began with 14 members. Today, the organization has approximately 200 members.
Weilmuenster said many of Grapevine’s elected leadership including eight of Grapevine’s mayors — among them Mayor Tate and his father, the late Mayor Gordon Tate — and civil servants such as fire and police chiefs have been members. Many area doctors and dentists and teachers as well as founding pastors of the first Grapevine churches also were members.
“And just plain good men,” he said, adding that “in the last 150 years, 1,400 men have petitioned for membership for our lodge.”
According to historians, the first meeting was held in an old dilapidated storage shed about 16X24 feet which stood about one mile north of the present town of Grapevine.
Just two years after the founding of the lodge, the members voted to start a school that became known as Grapevine Masonic Institute, Tate said.
“Members selected a school board from among its members and operated the school for 20 years — funded by tuition and the charity of the lodge,” the mayor said.
When the school opened in 1869, Grapevine Lodge met on the second floor of the building.
The school continued to operate until 1886 when the land and buildings — located on College Street — were sold and the school became known as Grapevine College. This property was eventually absorbed into what would become Grapevine-Colleyville school district.
Grapevine Lodge continued to meet on the second floor of a school until 1888, when Grapevine Lodge moved to the current location. The original building at this location was razed and the current building was built in 1916.
Grapevine Lodge continued to meet on the second floor of the school until 1888, when it moved to the current location at the southeast corner of Main and Worth streets, Tate said.
The original building was razed and the current building was built in 1916.
Tate noted in the proclamation that “its brick Main Street building is 100 years old this year.”
Financed by Masonic lodge members at a cost of $5,780.96 in 1916, this two-story Masonic temple features a meeting hall upstairs, commercial business downstairs and three major bays divided by full height brick piers and patterned brickwork frieze.
The second floor is home to the Masons. On the first floor is a winery owned by Alan Kunst Jr. and Ralph Mattison Jr. Called Sloan & Williams Winery, the business moniker capitalizes on their middle names.
“We enjoy having such a prestigious address,” Kunst said.
Grapevine Lodge has donated to charitable organizations and causes across North Texas since its 1866 founding.
Since its founding, Grapevine Lodge has donated to charitable organizations and causes across North Texas as well as providing more than $22,000 in scholarships for students graduating from area high schools in the past five years.
Grapevine Lodge also organizes blood drives in conjunction with Carter BloodCare benefiting Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children, sends care packages to troops overseas and promotes dental care for elementary students through presenting a program on dental hygiene.
Weilmuenster said the organization means different things to different people. It can range from a social venture to a historical one to philosophical one where the “object is to make good men better.”
Marty Sabota, 817-390-7367
What is Freemasonry?
“A regular system of morality, veiled in allegory, and illustrated by symbols.”
Freemasonry is the world’s oldest largest fraternity. Its history and tradition date to antiquity. Its singular purpose is to make good men better. Its bonds of friendship, compassion, and brotherly love have survived even the most divisive political, military, and religious conflicts through the centuries. Freemasonry is neither a forum nor a place for worship. Instead, it is a friend of all religions that are based on the belief in one God.