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December 14, 2007

MASONS: 3 local lodges unite

Masonic traditions have been carried on in lodges across the world for centuries.

After years of declining membership, three local lodges have joined forces in an effort to keep those traditions going in Niagara County.

The Lockport Lodge 73, The Ontario Lodge 376 and the Newfane Lodge 947 officially merged their membership to form Charlotteville Lodge 73. The new group is based in Newfane.

Membership has declined for decades in all three lodges. Douglas Eadie, who was master of Lockport Lodge before the merger, said that lodge — the oldest in the area — had more than 600 members in 1924; by the time of the merger, that number was around 50.

In all, the newly merged Charlotteville Lodge has about 156 members.

In 2006, all three groups had started meeting at the Newfane lodge on Main Street as a matter of convenience. Kevin King, who was master of Ontario Lodge at the time of the merger, said it seemed like overkill to have three groups meeting in the same place, doing the same things.

“We thought, why don’t we just make it one bigger group instead of doing the three meetings?” King said. “It’s a better use of resources. You can still cover the same area ... it makes economic sense.”

The three groups formed a merger committee in November 2006, and each lodge unanimously voted to approve the move, which was finalized Sept. 18.

The decision was approved by New York State Grand Lodge in New York City.

The merger process involved several complex decisions —including the name of the new lodge, the meeting time and place, and appointment of officers — but the members say it has so far been a smooth process.

“It went much more smoothly than I had originally been led to believe it possibly might,” Eadie said.

The biggest challenge was preserving the history of each lodge. The Lockport Lodge was created in 1824, the Ontario Lodge had been around for 150 years and the Newfane Lodge celebrated its 90th anniversary this year.

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