History of Columbia Masonic Lodge No. 286 F. & A.M. Columbia, Pa. Constituted February 16, 1854
At a Meeting of Lodge No. 43 on the 14 of December 1853 a petition for a new Lodge at Columbia, Pa was signed and presented to the Grand Lodge of Penna. Columbia Lodge was Constituted and Officers Installed on February 16, 1854. It was to meet in a new building being constructed behind the famed Tremont House at Walnut and Front Streets. On July 24, 1873 the Lodge moved to Odd Fellows Hall at Second and Locust streets.
After dedication the first few years saw a marked increase in petitions. By the fiftieth year of 1904 the fraternity was making steady strides in growth and the officers were able to pay $600 yearly on the debt, which then was about $8,000 in those days there were refreshments after each meeting and annual banquet cost 5 cents to a dollar a plate.
Records of the Lodge Secretary indicate 415 new members were raised during the 50 year period of February 15, 1854 to February 16, 1904. By the 100th Anniversary in February 1954, an additional 542 members were raised bringing the total to 957 for the first century of presence in the Columbia area. The active membership as of February 15, 1954 stood at 375.
In 1899 the W.M appointed a new Site Committee to procure a site for the purpose of building a new Masonic Temple. The site agreed upon was to become 336 Locust Street. The building being 40 feet by 125 feet was three stories high. The first Stated Meeting was held on July 4, 1901 in the new completed Masonic Temple.
Over the years many building improvement were made. Extensive decorations were added, modern lighting was installed in the lodge room in 1933, at a cost of $4,000. During a storm in 1942, a large chimney was blown down ripping a 15’ by 30’ hole in the roof. During the years 1951-52-53, major improvements included a new oil burning furnace and heating system, much new equipment in the kitchen, linoleum on the floors and painting walls etc. In 1939 under Worshipful Master Charles J Gable, the lodge had a “note burning” ceremony to signalize the wiping out of all the debt.
The year 1952 marked the beginning of preparation for the One Hundredth Anniversary of Lodge # 286. In 1953 further preparation continued under Mathew J. Wilson, Worshipful Master and Brother Paul C. Rodenhauser, who would be worshipful Master in 1954
The three day celebration beginning Sunday February 14, 1954 and ending Tuesday February 16, 1954 was a huge success and long to be remembered by all who participated.
On Saturday April 29, 1961 the Craftsman Club Spring Dance was held in the Social Hall. Early next morning fire destroyed the roof and the third floor with extensive damage to the rest of the building. Fire damages totaled an estimated $54,902.00. Following a dispensation by Grand Master Max. F. Balcom, the Lodge held meetings at the Marietta Lodge with Russell A. Goda as Worshipful Master.
Meetings continued in Marietta until April 5, 1962 when Walter E. Yohe, Worshipful Master convened the first stated meeting in Columbia’s newly renovated building. The building was rededicated April 28, 1962 during an all day celebration.
Restoration and improvements to the Lodge building totaled $77,452.00, leaving the Lodge in debt $21,352.00. With the new facilities complete the Eastern Star, Jobs Daughters, and DeMolay began using the building.
1980 began with Worshipful master Paul L. Gundel appointing a committee to look into the sale of the Lodge Building. Efforts continued in that regard until July 28, 2005 when a sales agreement was finalized.
The Columbia Lodge has moved its meetings to Riverside Lodge in Wrightsville, York County.
During the first 100 years, Lodge #286 successfully managed periods of indebtedness and maintained focus on the primary mission of elevating worthy men to the ranks of Freemasonry. This History is a tribute to the efforts of the many Brethren who labored to build the Lodge and expand the fraternity. Our rich Heritage will always remind us to face the future with courage and determination
The above information was taken from “History of Columbia Lodge” written by Walter E. Yohe P.M. and Eugene Winters P.M. and an article written by Charles H. Gable P.M. Editing by Robert H. Mellinger P.M. and Brother Danny Shaub
Lodge No. 286 Information
Columbia Lodge No. 286 Meets at Masonic Temple, 25 Cool Creek Road, Wrightsville, PA 17368
Google Map to Columbia Lodge No. 286 and The Masonic Temple