LEE — The Evening Star Lodge of Masons was 143 years old Monday. The Lodge received its charter June 6, 1795. Paul Revere was grand master of the grand lodge when the application was made and the charter bore his signature.

Lee's Masonic lodge is the oldest in the 16th Masonic district and has a history which is somewhat remarkable, and of unusual interest to members and their families and friends. In every Berkshire Mason's memory is the celebration of the 100th anniversary of this Masonic body, when all the lodges of Berkshire County, the grand lodge and a number of lodges from Connecticut joined in a big event at Lee on June 6, 1895 and again, a year later, when the same Masons gathered at Great Barrington to assist the Cincinnatus lodge in celebrating its 100th anniversary. 

Lee and Lenox Masons may well be proud of the record of their lodge, when Masonry was in full bloom, and also during the 20 or more years when the craft was under a cloud because of the Morgan incident, when many lodges suspended work altogether and surrendered their charters to the grand lodge. [In 1826, Free Mason William Morgan of New York, who was preparing to publish an expose of the order, was allegedly abducted and presumed murdered.] In those "dark days" as they were called, the old Lee patriarchs met in the attic of Jared Bradley's house and conducted their services and did their work hampered, not unlike the Christians of old.

The grand lodge records state that Simon Leonard and others applied for the charter, and as the first records of the Evening Star were destroyed in the great fire of 1857, the first officers are not known, beyond the fact that Judge William Walker was the first master. There is a list of 22 masters during the first century and 65 since the constitution of the lodge. The record of the subordinate officers are complete from the date of the fire, the last 80 years, and are in the archives of the lodge, together with the workings of the lodge and the charitable activities since that time.

There is a strong belief that George Washington was a visitor at the Evening Star lodge, when General Paterson was one of the leading Masons. The old records proving this were among those destroyed. The two men, fast friends in the Revolution as well as in Masonry, visited many lodges, and at the first meeting of the Cincinnatus lodge, Washington's name appears first in the record and Paterson's second.

This Story in History is selected from the archives by Jeannie Maschino, The Berkshire Eagle.

Community News Editor / Librarian

Jeannie Maschino is community news editor and librarian for The Berkshire Eagle. She has worked for the newspaper in various capacities since 1982 and joined the newsroom in 1989.