Dearborn Lodge originated in the hearts and minds of those Masons living in Dearborn who were members of Wayne Lodge No.112. Early in 1865 eleven brothers petitioned the Most Worshipful Brother William T. Mitchell, Grand Master of Masons in Michigan, for a dispensation, to empower them to assemble as a legal Lodge to discharge the duties of Masonry in the several degrees.
The Village of Wayne, located eight miles west of Dearborn, was not easily accessible, except by horse on the Chicago Road, which is now Michigan Avenue. The Chicago Road, being not much more than a trail and often almost impassable, the brothers found the fastest and most economical way to attend lodge was by hand car. The Michigan Central Railroad ran through Dearborn, right into Wayne Lodge, and Wayne Lodge was adjacent to the tracks. Wayne Lodge No. 112 recommended the petition and on March 10th 1865, Grand Master Mitchell issued the dispensation. The start of Dearborn Lodge had begun.
Brother James Travis was appointed the first Worshipful Master and the first meeting of Dearborn Lodge took place at the Dearborn House located at the corner of Chicago Road and Center Street, which is now known as Michigan and Monroe. The dispensation was issued near the close of the war between the states and because of the arsenal and troops being located there, the community was growing. The Lodge grew and prospered also. By the end of the year, the Lodge had initiated fifteen and had grown to thirty-three members.
At a session of Grand Lodge that was convened in Detroit on January 11th 1866, the Charter was granted and Dearborn Lodge became number 172. The Lodge continued to meet in the Dearborn House until January 1868, when the brothers moved it to the second floor of Jared Sextons store located on the east side of Mason Street, between what is now Newman Street and the railroad. The Lodge had grown to forty-five brothers.
In April of 1872, the Lodge moved to the third floor of the Sloss Building. This was a brick structure fronting on Michigan Avenue and extending southerly on the west side of Mason Street. David Sloss and Son operated a General Store on the first and second floors. The Lodge room was reached by a flight of wooden stairs built on the outside of the building. The Lodge room was heated by a stove with wood being carried up the stairs.
February 25th 1888 is the first record of Dearborn Lodge meeting on Monday night. Previously the Lodge met on Saturday nights, usually on or before the full moon. In order to facilitate coming to Lodge when the roads and paths would be illuminated by the full moon.
On August 7th 1892, Lodge was opened to participate with Wayne Lodge in the funeral of Worshipful Brother James Travis. His remains are in Northview Cemetery, about half way up the hill. In 1951, Dearborn Lodge placed a marker at the gravesite.
In 1893, a committee was appointed to determine the whereabouts of the chandeliers and lamps belonging to the Lodge. The committee reported that after diligent search and inquiry, the chandeliers were found on the roof of the adjacent building and they were returned to the Lodge.
In 1896, a committee was appointed to see Mr. D.P. Lapham regarding the expense of having a dance and supper at his hall. It was reported that Mr. Lapham agreed he would furnish the hall for $5.00, supper for $.50 per couple, extra lady or gent $.025, would furnish two kinds of meet (ham and beef), bread and biscuits, coffee and tea, raw and stewed oysters and two kinds of pie. A special Michigan Central train as run from Detroit on March 23rd 1896. A report states that Brother W.H. Clark was paid $7.75 as balance due for this service. Also, in 1896, a resolution was adopted giving permission for an Eastern Star Chapter to use the Lodge room. The rental would be $5.00 per year. However it was not until 1914 that Dearborn Chapter No. 421 O.E.S. was formed.
All was peace and harmony in the Lodge until the night of October 2nd 1905, when the entire Village of Dearborn was alerted by the tolling of the Methodist Church bell. A fire was blazing that had originated in the basement of the Sloss Building. The fire was apparently extinguished, but only for 24 hours. The following night on October 3rd, the entire building and all of its contents were destroyed. Only a very small part of the Lodge records were saved by the heroism of one or two members who ascended ladders from the outside because of the intense heat. Consequently, the first twelve years of the Lodge’s existence were lost.Dearborn Lodge, which had grown to over seventy members, was obligated to start a new. Arrangements were made with David P. Lapham to use his hall located over his general store, located on the southwest corner of Newman and Mason Streets. A special dispensation was issued by the Grand Master, allowing the use of the quarters. The first meeting was held on December 11th 1905, where Worshipful Master Pontus Wood appointed a committee to submit plans and estimates for a new Masonic Temple. This was also the annual election of officers. Brother Samuel B. Long was elected to Worshipful Master, Brother Louis Howe was elected Secretary for his second term and was paid an annual salary of $9.00. The tiler was paid $6.00 for the same period.
In April 1906, the purchase of land from Arna Mills was authorized. The committee was ordered to proceed with the plans. There is no record that this was ever done. Brother Charles Nuendorf submitted a proposition whereby the Lodge could take over the Detroit Arsenal Gun Shed, a one story building located on the west side of Monroe Blvd., just north of Michigan Avenue. On, November 1st 1906, Dearborn Lodge secured the Detroit Arsenal Gun Shed. The roof was raised and a second floor with a new stairway was added. The new Lodge quarters were dedicated by Grand Master Charles Sweet on June 7th 1907. Total membership at the end of 1907 was eighty-five.
In 1909, dues were increased from $2.00 to $5.00 per year. In those years, Master Mason dinners were served at the close of the work. The Lodge room was set up with tables, and they meals were usually prepared at the town bakery. After dinner was over, the tables were cleaned and taken down. The next night, the dishes were washed, the kitchen cleaned and everything put back in order.
As early as 1916, it was apparent that the present hall was too small. A committee was formed to investigate a site for a new Temple. This committee reported that the southeast corner of Monroe and Garrison Streets was available for purchase. This land was the former site of an arsenal built by the government which was laid with the cornerstone marking it July 30th 1833. On a motion, the land was purchased for $5,000.00. In 1918, the Lodge purchased an additional ten feet on Monroe Street. About this time, the Dearborn Masonic Temple Association was founded. The first directors were Brothers Herman Kalmback, Edward Miller, Clarence Parker, Jackson Pardee and Howard Asseltine.
Construction on the temple was started in 1925, but after about three feet of the outside wall was erected, the funds gave out and construction was stopped. It is interesting to note at this point that George D. Mason & Co. were the the architects on the project. The same architects that were commissioned to draw the plans for the Detroit Masonic Temple. John Haggerty, Brother of Dearborn Lodge and the owner of Haggerty Brick Co., came to the rescue and donated the remaining brick that was needed to complete the Temple. On June 24th 1925, Grand Master Arthur Fox, assisted by the Grand Lodge officers, laid the northwest corner. After completion of the building, the first meeting was held on December 27th 1927. On this date, the officers for 1928 were installed. Brother Leon Hunsicker was the first Brother raised to Master Mason in the new Temple on January 9th 1928 by Grand Master W. Graves. According to the Lodge records, this was the first time that the officers of Dearborn Lodge wore tuxedos. At the close of 1928, the membership had risen to 429.During the years of the depression, times were hard. The Dearborn Masonic Temple was almost lost on three separate occasions. A proposition was finally entered into, that in as much as the Dearborn State Bank had assumed control of the Temple, a new contract would be drawn up. The cost of the Temple and all of the furnishings were estimated to be $50,000.00. The proposition was accepted and the Temple was saved, giving Dearborn Lodge one of the nicest Temples in the state.
At the Annual Communication in 1936, dues were changed to $7.50 and membership stood at 482. The seventy-fifth anniversary was celebrated on January 11th 1941 with a turkey dinner, entertainment and dancing. On December 11th 1944, the final payment was made on the Temple. On October 19th 1946, a celebration was held at the Detroit Masonic Temple for purpose of burning the mortgage on the Dearborn Temple. The mortgage was burned in the presence of then Worshipful Master Bert Godfrey, many past masters and a large number of members and friends of Dearborn Lodge. The entire program was under the direction of Brother Harry Beck and marked “finis” to an undertaking extending nearly twenty years. The young daughter of Brother Elmer Schloff touched the match to the mortgage.
By the end of 1946, the Lodge membership had grown to 1,580 and by 1949, it was evident that with 1,789 members, that the office of Secretary should be a full time position. On June 13th 1949, the members of the Lodge voted and the Secretary was made a full time employee of the Lodge.
It was becoming more apparent that with the growing age of many of the members with the Lodge and with the Temple being three floors tall, the stairs were becoming a problem. In October of 1949, the Lodge transferred $3,000.00 to the Temple Association to assist in the construction of an elevator shaft and the installation of an elevator.
By 1956, the membership had grown to 2,265. In this year, the Lodge authorized the purchase of two parcels of property immediately south and east of the Temple. The parcel south of the Temple has subsequently been made into a parking lot.
On April 16th 1966, Dearborn Lodge celebrated 100 years of Masonry in Dearborn. The dinner and entertainment were held at Ford Motor Company’s Skyline Terrace. There were 916 in attendance, including Grand Master Percy H WIlliams. The membership had risen to 2,510, making Dearborn Lodge No. 172, the largest Lodge in state of Michigan.
On May 24th 1967, Ivan E, Addis Worshipful Master of Dearborn Lodge in 1956 was installed as Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Michigan. Also in 1967, Most Worshipful Brother Addis’ son-in-law, Most Worshipful Brother Robert N. Osborne held the office of Worshipful Master of Dearborn Lodge. On May 29th 1980, Most Worshipful Brother Osborne was installed as Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Michigan. In-so-far as is known, this is the first time in the history of Michigan Masonry that a father-in-law and son-in-law have served as Grand Masters.
In May of 1989, after having been elected by the members of Dearborn Lodge, and by District 5, the Grand Lodge of Michigan presented Worshipful Brother Rodney D. Bedwell, who had served as Master of Dearborn Lodge in 1982, with the Mason of the Year Award, for the State of Michigan.
On January 11th 1991, Dearborn Lodge No. 172 reached it’s 125th birthday, and on April 21st 1991, celebrated the event with a fine dinner and entertainment at the Park Place Hall.
During 1993, while Worshipful Brother Harley J. Corbin served as Worshipful Master, Dearborn Lodge celebrated the first Annual Firefighter Recognition Night.
In May 1995, at the Grand Lodge of Michigan’s Annual Communication, held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Dearborn, Worshipful Brother Harley J. Corbin, serving as Dearborn Lodge’s Mason of the Year, received the Mason of the Year Award for the State of Michigan, making him the second member of Dearborn Lodge to receive Michigan Masonry’s highest award.
In May of 1997, at the Grand Lodge Annual Communication held at Treetops Resort in Gaylord Michigan, David Bedwell, received the State Mason of the Year Award and was elected into the bottom of the Grand Lodge moving office line as the Worshipful Grand Marshal.
May 17th 1999, Dearborn Lodge was the sight of a truly historical event. Redeemer Lodge #53, a Prince Hall Affiliated Lodge, joined us for an incredible night of fun and fellowship. Richard Mackie, Worshipful Master of Dearborn Lodge, opened Lodge on the Entered Apprentice Degree. Thirty-nine Dearborn Lodge members, thirty Redeemer Lodge members and thirty members from all over the state were in attendance. For all who attended this historic event, the light of Freemasonry shines much brighter.
In May of 2002, at the Grand Lodge Annual Meeting held in Troy, David Bedwell was installed as the Most Worshipful Grand Master of the State of Michigan.In June of 2006, The Temple Association entered into a purchase agreement with the Scottish Rite Valley of Detroit for the sale of Dearborn Masonic Center. As per the agreement, Dearborn Lodge now resides in the Scottish Rite Masonic Center.