THE TEMECULA CATALINA ISLAND LODGE No.524
Compiled by Brother Fred Jordan, Master Mason
Historical articles furnished by Worshipful Harvey H. Cowell. PM
HISTORY OF MASONIC LODGES No. 524
CATALINA ISLAND LODGE
First, a little history of Santa Catalina Island. While looking for a rumored northerly passage connecting the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans in 1542, the Portuguese explorer, Don Juan Rodrigues Cabrillo, discovered an island off the mainland of Alto California and named it after his flagship San Salvador.
After a long and arduous voyage, the island Indians and the beauty of the rugged hills rising out of the blue sea were a welcome relief. Cabrillo was never to see this paradise again, for he died on an island off Santa Barbara while sailing north.
Little was heard of San Salvador Island for the next 60 years until an expedition under San Sebastian Viscaino anchored in what is now Avalon Bay on the eve of St. Catherine’s Day.
After the departure of Viscaino, Spain made little attempt to colonize either the mainland or its islands, so for the next 150 years Catalina was left alone until Yankee sailors learned about the sea otter trade. Captain William Shafer in the ship “Lelia Byrd” followed by Captain Richard Cunningham and others began running contraband out of the island. As sea otter skins were prized in Europe and Asia, Russian hunters with crews of Alaska Aleuts and Kodiak Indians sailed down to engage in the kill. Historians suggest that the Russians were responsible for the extinction of the Indians of Catalina and the Channel Islands.
At the close of the Mexican War in 1848 an American, Thomas Robins of Santa Barbara became owner of Catalina Island through a deed granted by the last Mexican governor of California, Pio Pico. In 1863 miners from the mainland staged a gold rush, but Union troops occupying the island, soon ended their activity. (Historians believe that the Union thought the miners were southern sympathizers.) Barracks erected by Union troops still stand at Two Harbors.
The next owner was Don Nicolas Covarrubias of Los Angeles, and then back to Santa Barbara and a lawyer named Parker. The founder of Lick Observatory, James Lick, was to own the island for the next 25 years, with his estate selling to George Shatto for $200,000 in 1887. In 1892 the Banning brothers purchased the Island from Shatto. (Their father was Phineas Banning, a member of Los Angeles Lodge No. 42, and the first to operate a stagecoach from Wilmington to Arizona.) Controlling interest in Catalina was sold in 1919 to William Wrigley, Jr, marking the start of the development of the island as a world playground.
In 1975 a non-profit foundation, the Santa Catalina Island Conservancy, acquired title to more than 85 of the island and today is working with Los Angeles County in preserving and protecting the wild lands and nature preserve areas for future generations.
November 21, 1919, a group of twenty Members of the Masonic Fraternity, belonging to Various Masonic Lodges on the mainland but residing in Avalon, met and formed the Catalina Circle Club, whose purpose and objects were: “To get together and promote the Fraternal, Social and Moral Welfare of its members and of the community.”
That first meeting was held in the Times Office of the Santa Catalina Island Company and James F. Trout was elected President, David M. Renton Vice-President and Arch L. Laurance Secretary/Treasurer. The Constitution and By-Laws were adopted and the membership fee set at $1.00, with dues at $2.00 per year, payable quarterly.
At the meeting of the Catalina Circle Club held on October 14, 1921, a motion was made and Passed that a Masonic Lodge be organized in Avalon and that the name of the Lodge should be “Catalina Lodge.” A committee was appointed to draft a petition for Dispensation to the Grand Lodge Free and Accepted Masons of California. At the meeting of November 4, 1921, it was voted to change the name of the proposed Lodge to “Catalina Island Lodge.” It was also moved and passed that Albert B. Waddington be elected to serve as Master, William H. Gill as Senior Warden and Hugh Stevenson as Junior Warden. At the meeting of the Club held January 3, 1922, it was reported that William H. Gill had stated it would be impossible for him to be in Avalon during the next three months and he wished the Club to accept his resignation as Senior Warden of the proposed Lodge. His resignation was accepted with regret and Carl W. Carson was elected to fill the vacancy.
On April 10, 1922, the Honorable Samuel E. Burke, Grand Master of Masons in California, Issued a Dispensation to Catalina Island Lodge U.D. (Under Dispensation) Free and Accepted Masons, which was attested to by John Whicher; Grand Secretary.
The first meeting of the Lodge under Dispensation was held on Saturday, April 15, 1922 with the following elected and appointed officers: Albert B. Waddingham, Master; Carl W. Carson, Senior Warden; Hugh Stevenson, Junior Warden; Herbert D. MacRae, Treasurer; George E Daul, Secretary: James F. Fambrough, Junior Deacon; Charles J. Dash”. Marshal; Ernest V. Jennings, Senior Steward; and James E. Gannon, Junior Steward. Charter members of the Lodge, in addition to the officers, were: James L. Chapman, Frank E. Hand, Wilbur L. White and Luther E. Wilkie making a total of fifteen charter members.
On June 16, 1922 Catalina Island Lodge under Dispensation raised their first candidates; Raymond Charles Keller and Frances Clark Jackson.
At the Annual Communication of Grand Lodge F. & A. M. of California held in October 1922, a Charter was issued under date of October 12 to Catalina Island lodge No. 524, F. & A. M., which also was signed by Samuel E. Burke, Grand Master and attested to by John Whicher, Grand Secretary. The first meeting was held on Saturday, October 21, 1922 with the same officers present.
Although many left Avalon during World War II, personnel of the United States Coast Guard And the Maritime Commission stationed on Catalina joined the Catalina Lodge and became active in its Work.
Catalina Island Lodge has had three meeting places. Originally it met in the Forester’s Hall on Clemente Ave. But, when that building was demolished in 1965 to make way for the building of Condominiums, meetings were then held in a meeting room in the Casino Building. Since 1967, Meetings were held in the Lodge Room in Tremont Hall.
Over the years, several Grand Masters included Catalina Island Lodge in their visitations: William A. Sherman in 1923, Arthur Crites in 1924, and Gus A. Hutaff in 1928. Will Fisher came to Catalina in 1924 to preside over the laying of the cornerstone of Avalon High School. Grand Master John R. Moore journeyed to Avalon in 1948 for the installation of Lodge officers.
Members have served in many stations and for a number of years, but the most notable was Past Master Arch L. Laurance, elected treasurer in 1928 and performing in that office for the next 51 consecutive years. He was also the Charter Senior Deacon.
Catalina Island Lodge No. 524 needs no further description than its name. Although only 25 miles off shore, island life differed from the hurry and perturbation of that on the mainland. There is thousands of California residents among whose fondest memories are those spent as a youth on Catalina Island. (Remember the Big Bands at the casino?)
October 13, 1987 marked the start of a yearlong celebration of the founding of Avalon 100 years Previously on October l3, 1887, and incorporation of the city of Avalon 75 years hence on June 13, 19l3. As a part of the celebration a Time Capsule was placed in a wall specially built on the Cabrillo Mole, to be opened in 100 years. Sixty five years before this date, on October 12, 1922, the Grand Lodge F. & A. M of California had issued a Charter to Catalina Island Lodge No. 524, so it was concluded it was proper that some recognition of the Lodge should be included in the Capsule. Herbert A. Wegmann, Worshipful Master put together a short history of the Lodge, which was reviewed by local, and Past Masters. This information was then included in the Capsule.
On January 17, 1988 a committee, consisting of Brothers Charles Ginnett, Cyril Hall, Pastor Lopez, Charles Beal and Herbert Wegmann met. They elected Herbert Wegmann, Chairman and Cyril Hall, Secretary/Treasurer to discuss the consolidation with another Lodge in or outside this District, (as provided in Section 2104, CMC) and a suggestion was made by the Inspector, Brother Richard Vickers, that in the event of consolidation with another Lodge, that a Masonic Club be formed in Avalon. Discussed was a telephone call he had received from the Chairman of a newly formed Masonic Club in Temecula, California, where they are desirous of forming a Masonic Lodge. He informed me that in a conversation he had with immediate Past Grand Master, Jack R. Levitt the suggestion was made that it would be advantageous to our group to locate a Lodge that is considering consolidation and suggest that rather than consolidate with another Lodge a request be made to the Grand Master for a change in meeting place, as provided for in Section 2100 of the California Masonic Code.
Wegmann stated that what it amounted to is if our Lodge chooses to follow the suggestion, that Catalina Island Lodge No. 524 would retain its name and number, both of which would, in all probability, be lost on consolidation. We would retain our original Charter and our Lodge, By-Laws, which contain the signatures of all Charter Members, as well as those who have been raised in or affiliated with our Lodge, which would also be lost on consolidation. All funds which have accumulated in the Catalina Island Temple Association, as well as money in the General Fund, would remain in the name of Catalina Island Lodge No. 524. Our officer’s jewels, paraphernalia and furniture would be shipped to Temecula to be used in the Lodge there. If we were to consolidate these items would most likely be sold or otherwise disposed of. All past Masters would remain as Past Masters of Catalina Island Lodge, instead of another Lodge by affiliation. But what is most important, is that you would remain a member of Catalina Island Lodge No. 524, F & A. M. and thus not be required to affiliate with another Lodge.
It was agreed at the meeting of January 17, 1988, that Brothers Ginnett, Hall and Wegmann make a trip to Temecula to meet with the members of their Masonic club and explore all aspects of a possible move to their city. The trip was made on February 3, 1988; they stayed overnight as guests of the Temecula Masonic members. At that meeting a tour of the city was conducted, inspecting possible meeting places. That evening a meeting was held at the Temecula Masonic Club, whose members voted unanimously to extend an invitation to our Lodge to make a change in meeting place to Temecula. Therefore, in accordance with the provision of Section 2100, CMC, notice was given at that meeting that a resolution for the change in meeting place of Catalina Island Lodge No. 524, F. & A. M. from Tremont Hall, Avalon, California to 41892 Enterprise Circle South, Temecula, California, would be offered at the Stated meeting on Tuesday, March 8, 1988. If the resolution is adopted by at least two-thirds of the members present at that stated meeting, the Lodge with the approval of the Grand Master may remove its Lodge room provided in the resolution, and thereafter its Charter shall be amended by proper proceedings of Grand Lodge.
At the Stated Meeting on February 9, 1988 a report to the Lodge was made with a recommendation that a request to Grand Lodge for a change in the location of our meeting place, also discussed was an invitation from Brother Al Larsen, Chairman of the Temecula Masonic Club to change the address of Catalina Island Lodge No. 524 from Avalon to Temecula, as provided in Section 2100 of the CMC. Brother Wegmann stated that such a move would be advantageous to our Lodge as it would thereby retain its identity. The Lodge would retain its original Charter and By-Laws, which would be lost on consolidation. Our present elected and appointed officers would remain in their stations and places until a new election was held. All money in the general fund of the Lodge and the Catalina Island Masonic Temple Association would remain with the Lodge. All past Masters would continue as Past Masters of this Lodge instead of another Lodge by affiliation. Brother Wegmann explained that Brother Ginnett, Hall and himself had made a trip to Temecula to meet with members of the Temecula Masonic Club and inspect the hall which would be their temporary quarters and that they were impressed with the enthusiasm shown. Notice was then given by Brother Wegmann that at the Stated meeting of Tuesday, March 8, 1988 a Resolution would be presented for the removal of the Lodge room of Catalina Island
Lodge No. 524, F. & A. M. from Tremont Hall, Avalon, California to 41892 Enterprise Circle South, Temecula, California. A motion was made by Brother James Trout, seconded by Brother Malcolm Renton, to approve the action of the Consolidation Committee and accept the report as submitted. Carried unanimously.
On March 8, 1988, Herbert A. Wegmann issued a statement to the Catalina Island Lodge No. 524.
WHEREAS, The total membership of Catalina Island Lodge No. 524, F. & A. M. now stands at but Seventy-three (73), and of that number only thirty-four (34) reside in Avalon; and
WHEREAS, There are not enough members who are able and willing to learn the ritualistic work of the Fraternity in order to be qualified for appointment to the various stations and places in the Lodge, or to Accept the duties of Treasurer or Secretary; and
WHEREAS, At the Stated Meeting of Tuesday, January 12, 1988 a Resolution was passed directing the Master to appoint a committee to explore the possibility of consolidating with another Lodge; and
WHEREAS, That Committee, consisting of Brothers Charles R. Beal, Charles D. Ginnett, Cyril I. Hall, Pastor Lopez and Herbert A. Wegmann, met at 1:00 PM, Sunday, January 17, 1988 and discussed the Possibilities of consolidating with another Lodge in the 620th Masonic District, or elsewhere: and
WHEREAS, The Committee also discussed a telephone call received by Brother Wegmann from Brother Al Larson, Chairman of the Temecula Masonic Club, inviting Catalina Island Lodge No.524, F. & A. M. to change its meeting place to Temecula, California; and
WHEREAS, It was the opinion of the Committee that this invitation should be explored, inasmuch as such a change would permit the Lodge to retain its identity, as well as its Charter, By-Laws, finances, furniture and other paraphernalia, all of which would be lost on consolidation with another Lodge; and
WHEREAS, A motion was made, seconded and unanimously passed that Brothers Ginnett, Hall and Wegmann should make a trip to Temecula, California to meet with members of the Temecula Masonic Club and explore all aspects of such a change, and
WHEREAS, That trip was made on Wednesday, February 3, 1988, a meeting was held in the afternoon with officers and other members of the Club and a suitable meeting place for the Lodge was inspected; and
WHEREAS, The committee members that evening attended a regular meeting of the Temecula Masonic Club, whose members were enthusiastic about the possibility of a change in the meeting place of Catalina Island Lodge No. 524 F. & A. M. from Avalon to Temecula; and
WHEREAS, A motion was made, seconded and unanimously passed at that meeting to extend an invitation to Catalina Island Lodge No. 524 F. & A. M. to change its meeting place to Temecula, California, by which a written invitation has subsequently been received by this Lodge; and
WHEREAS, The Consolidation Committee met at 1:00 PM, Monday, February 8, 1988 to receive and review a report of those meetings, after which a full discussion was had and a motion made, seconded and unanimously passed to recommend that the meeting place of this Lodge be changed to Temecula, California; therefore
BE IT RESOLVED, That Catalina Island Lodge No. 524, F. & A. M. elect to change its place of meeting from Tremont Hall, Avalon, California, to 41892 Enterprise Circle South, Temecula, California; and be it
FURTHER RESOLVED, That the effective date of such change shall be within ninety (90) days of the date of approval of such change by the Grand Master.
Respectfully submitted, this eighth day of March 1988,
LODGE CONSOLIDATION COMMITTEE
Herbert A. Wegmann, Chairman
Cyril I. Hall, Secretary/Treasurer
Charles D. Ginnett
I certify that this resolution was unanimously adopted by the fifteen (15) members of this Lodge Present at the stated meeting held on Tuesday, March 8, 1988. Signed: Herbert A. Wegmann. Temecula is a growing community 40 miles south of Riverside and whose name appears on land grants issued in 1845. In 1987 a group of Masons founded a Masonic Club for the purpose of eventually establishing a Lodge. The Club had 30 members who first met in the Rancho California Water District’s conference room. Their elected officers were Al Larson, President, C. Jack Liefer, Vice President, Dick Jarrett, Secretary and Neil Dunlop, Treasurer. The executive committee members were Russell Watkins, John Sapp and Adam David. A plaque was presented to Alfred Larson, the Founding President.
Their first meeting was held in January 1988 which proved to be the turning point when word was received that on far away Catalina Island in the city of Avalon, their Masonic Lodge was seeking to merge with a mainland Lodge.
A message was dispatched to Avalon urging Catalina Island Lodge members to visit Temecula and to consider moving their Lodge to Temecula’s beautiful valley. The response to the invitation was positive and the Lodge presented a resolution in March 1988 to authorize the move. Temecula would dissolve its Masonic Club and its members would affiliate with Catalina Island Lodge No.524. The Club wrote, “We want you to join us in the beautiful Temecula Valley. We feel that moving the Lodge to our area will enhance your Lodge and most assuredly Masons in the Temecula Valley would be very proud to have a Lodge so near.
In July the Lodge furniture was shipped across the channel to Wilmington where it was met by Temecula’s Masonic Club who transported it to the new Lodge quarters at 41892 Enterprise Circle South. Four applications were presented for degrees at the July 1988 Stated Meeting and Catalina Island Lodge No. 524 was back in business, no consolidation, merger or loss of its historic name. A new start, with new Brothers.
But Masonry didn’t leave Catalina Island. A rear guard has remained to keep the fires of Masonry burning on California’s closest island paradise. Among the Masons remaining were five members of the Lodge, all with more than 60 years of Masonic membership. They were Lehman W. Crandall, James F. Trout, John W.R. Windel, Herbert A. Wegmann, and Charles L. Crow.
A Stated Meeting of the combined Lodge’s was held on August 9, 1988 at 7:30 PM on Brother Jack C. Liefer’s ranch in Temecula. Brother Liefer had constructed under the oaks a simulated Masonic Lodge Room in complete detail including a door, stations and all the details that nature allowed. Yearly the Temecula Catalina Island Lodge under the auspices of the Grand Lodge hold an “Outdoor Degree” that is attended by Officers from Grand Lodge and Masons from all over California.
In the August 1992 Trestle board it was written that the Lodge was discussing changing the name from Catalina Island Lodge #524 to Temecula Catalina Island Lodge # 524. Immediately the members still living in Avalon were upset by the proposed change. On September 1, 1992, Master Jack Devers wrote a letter stating: “That our Secretary and Public Relations chairman have had several news articles turned down from the media because the name Catalina Island Lodge doesn’t relate to Temecula. It brings more confusion than positive thoughts. If this Lodge is to survive we have to do everything possible. In the same token, if this was reversed and the name would be Temecula Lodge #524 and it was moved to Avalon they could see the confusion it would bring in their area.
We understand that when the Lodge was moved to Temecula the name would remain the same.
At that time any problems of retaining the name “Catalina Island Lodge #524” was unforeseen, it now appears to be jeopardizing the survival of Masonry in Temecula Valley.
Worshipful Master, Jack Devers continued: “We truly do not want to offend anyone, only to do what is best for the Lodge and Masonry in general. This kind of resolution is always difficult to act on; the final decision will be up to the Grand Lodge Communication in 1993 to make the name change in any case.”
TEMECULA CATALINA ISLAND LODGE No. 524
On October 12, 1989 Temecula Catalina Island Lodge No. 524 F. & A. M. held its first Stated Meeting in their Lodge room at; 27895 Diaz Road, Temecula, California 92589-0524.
In the October 1994 Trestle board it was told that a group of officers and members of Temecula Catalina Island Lodge No. 524, F. & A. M., together with many of their wives, would make a special trip to Avalon on Saturday, November 12th to confer the Third Degree on a waiting candidate. They made the trip primarily to give Lodge members in Avalon an opportunity and to again attend their Lodge. Temecula Lodge brought aprons, jewels, working tools and other necessary paraphernalia needed to confer the Third Degree.
The meeting was held in the refurbished Tremont Hall, on November 12th and the local members participated in the opening ceremonies of the Lodge as well as the Second Section.
It was at Brother Jack C. Liefer’s ranch in Temecula where the Temecula Catalina Island Lodge No. 524 at its 7th Annual Outdoor Degree, July 21st 2001, celebrated its assimilated “Mortgage burning”. Grand Master David C. Decker performed the ritual before a packed house.
The Temecula Catalina Island Lodge #524 F & A. M had purchased the building they were leasing after forming the Hall Association Corporation to handle the transaction from, Tex McAlister Properties in August of 1995, and the closing was recorded January 8, 1996.
The Temecula Catalina Island Lodge No. 524 owes a sincere thanks to Brother John David DeLozier. It was Brother DeLozier expertise in Investment Financing that allowed us to invest the monies we had received from Catalina Island Lodge No. 524 upon their change of meeting place, the change that brought Catalina Island Lodge and Temecula Masonic Lodge together.
As a member of the Board of Trustees, he was delegated the job of investing our money, it was his knowledge in financing that enabled us to amass the sum required to pay off our mortgage in a record time and to become sole owners of the Temecula Masonic Center.