History of Gate of the Temple Lodge No. 422
Masonry Comes To Springfield, MO
In June of 1841, eight Masons, who were members of lodges in several states, assembled in Springfield, Missouri and petitioned the Grand Lodge of Missouri to grant them a dispensation to confer the degrees of Masonry, and to transact all other business that might be transacted in a regularly constituted lodge of Master Masons.
The request was granted on July 21, 1841, and the lodge was organized under the name of Ozark Lodge No. 50, AF & AM. The lodge was set to work on August 18, 1841. It grew rapidly in membership, but owing to some irregularities in the conduct of the lodge, its charter was arrested by Grand Lodge on October 18, 1847.
Several members, however, took immediate action to reorganize and proceeded to form Greene Lodge No. 101. This lodge was chartered by the Grand Lodge on May 12, 1848. Its membership grew rapidly during the next four years and it soon became apparent that another lodge was needed. Consequently a number of members organized Taylor Lodge No. 5, and it was granted a charter by Grand Lodge on May 6, 1852.
Both lodges did excellent work but the growth in population of Springfield subsided, and the two lodges, convinced that in unity there is strength, decided that it would be in the best interest of the craft to unite in one body. The two lodges were then merged under the name of United Lodge No. 5 and this lodge received its charter on May 30, 1857.
As the population of Springfield continued to grow, so did the membership of United Lodge No. 5. Eventually, the members, believing that it would be in the best interest of the Craft to have another lodge in the area, proceeded to form Solomon Lodge No. 271, which was chartered by Grand Lodge on October 18, 1868. In the next three years the membership of these two lodges had increased to the extent that it appeared the city needed another lodge. In October of 1871, several brethren from United No. 5 and Solomon No. 271 assembled and organized a new lodge, under the name of Gate of the Temple in North Springfield.
Grand Lodge issued a dispensation to set Gate of the Temple Lodge at work on October 13, 1871. The first recorded meeting of this lodge was, on December 12, 1871. The lodge grew slowly, and by October 16, 1872, when the Grand Lodge granted it a charter, and assigned it No. 422, the membership, as recorded in the existent records, was only 15, however there were several candidates working in the degrees.
Over the years, Gate of the Temple Lodge became one of the largest lodges in the State and has been in continuous operation to this date.
The Formative Years
When Gate of the Temple Lodge was set to work, under dispensation granted by the Grand Lodge of Missouri on October 13, 1871, the records indicate that there were just eight charter members: Thomas U. Flanner, B.F. Lawson, E.A. Finney, W.J. Roundtree, J.J. Barnard, E.T. Roberson, Luther Hansford, and R.B. Sears. The dispensation listed Thomas U. Flanner as Worshipful Master, B.F. Lawson as Senior Warden, and E.A. Finney as Junior Warden.
The first meeting of the lodge was held on December 12, 1871, at the lodge room on the second floor of a building on the corner of Benton Ave and Commercial St. in North Springfield. The lodge was opened on the 3rd degree and the dispensation was read, after which the DDGM declared Gate of the Temple Lodge, UD duly opened. The Worshipful Master then announced the appointment of the following officers: W.J. Roundtree, Senior Deacon; J.J. Barnard, Junior Deacon; E,T. Roberson, Treasurer; R.B. Sears, Secretary; and Luther Hansford, Tyler. After appointing a Finance Committee and a by-laws Committee, the lodge was closed.
The first regular communication of the Lodge was held on December 19, 1871. At this meeting several resolutions were presented and adopted by vote of the members. The first resolution dealt with regular communications, and set the first Thursday after each full moon for future communications. The next one established the initiation fees for the three degrees: $15.00 for the Entered Apprentice degree; $10.00 for the Fellowcraft degree; and $10.00 for the Master Mason degree. And the last one provided for the Secretary to receive $1.00, and the Tyler to receive $0.50 for each meeting.
With these formalities completed, the Lodge received its first Petition for the degrees signed by T.R. Johns. It was referred to a Committee for investigation. The minutes of this meeting made no mention of dues, and apparently none were collected until 1873.
During the next ten months the Lodge acted on 16 petitions for the degrees, and by October 1872, the Lodge membership stood at just 15 members, with several candidates working in the EA and FC degrees. Unfortunately eight pages of the minutes are missing for the period September 3, 1872, through November 7, 1872. However, on October 16, 1872, the Grand Lodge issued a charter to Gate of the Temple Lodge and assigned it No. 422. Then at a special meeting on November 7, 1872, the DDGM performed the ceremonies of Dedication of the Lodge Hall and Consecration of the Lodge.
Beginning in 1873, the membership ledgers reflected the payment of annual dues of $4.50. They remained at this level through 1877, however, on May 24, 1877, a resolution was adopted which reduced the dues to $3.00 beginning with 1878.
As the membership continued to grow over the next several years, the lodge began to look for a new meeting place. The minutes don’t provide much information on the condition of the lodge hall at Benton Avenue and Commercial Street but warrants were drawn frequently to pay for various kinds of maintenance. Candles and kerosene lamps were used for lighting, and the lodge room was heated with a wood stove. Apparently the brethren felt they needed something more modern.
A New Lodge Room
As early as 1879 a committee was appointed to look for a new meeting place. The committee reported frequently but made no progress until 1883. At that time a new three-story building was being constructed on Commercial Street near Boonville Avenue. The lodge entered into negotiations with the contractor, and eventually signed a lease for one floor of the building. The original lease was for 20 years at $200.00 per year.
At a special communication on February 21, 1884, the Grand Master dedicated the new lodge room, and although not noted in the minutes, it appears that the last lodge meeting in the building at Benton Avenue and Commercial Street was held on February 28, 1884. The next meeting on March 13, 1884 was held at the lodge room on Commercial Street. Minutes of that meeting, and subsequent meetings, made no reference to Benton Avenue. This new lodge room was lighted with gas lights, and apparently was heated with gas since warrants were drawn each month to pay the Gas Light Company for services.
To furnish and equip the new lodge room was quite expensive, and the lodge found it necessary to borrow money to finish the job. However, they were successful in sub-leasing the hall to several other fraternal organizations, and in the process recovered most of their lease payments. This enabled them to quickly retire their indebtedness.
The lodge did good work and its membership grew steadily through the years. By 1920 the membership was over 700, and the lodge was considering building its own lodge hall.
The New Masonic Temple
An association was formed under the title of Gate of the Temple Masonic Association, and it was incorporated as a non-profit corporation. This organization sold stock at $25.00 a share and raised $50,000.00 to use in building the new lodge hall. A lot was purchased on Boonville at Pacific Street, and plans were drawn for the new building.
Construction was started in 1921, and on November 21, 1921, by authority of a dispensation granted by M.W. Bro. 0.A. Lucas, Grand Master, a specific communication was called for the purpose of laying the cornerstone of the new building. Construction was completed in 1922 and on October 23, another specific communication was called for the purpose of dedicating the building.
The lodge was formed in procession at the old lodge hall, under the’ direction of the Grand Marshal, and with the Abou Ben Adhem Shrine Band leading, marched to the new temple. The hall was solemnly dedicated by M.W. Bro. Bert S. Lee, Past Grand Master, assisted by a number of Grand Lodge officers, and Past Masters of Gate of the Temple Lodge.
This new temple was spacious and very modern, with electric lighting, and steam heat, and the lodge settled in for what was to be a long and productive stay.
Origins of The Lodge Name
Nothing in the charter or in the early minutes of the lodge give any clues as to the origin of the lodge name. Although it is a rather unusual name, few members have ever questioned how or why it was selected. W.B. Frank W. Clark, a past master and former secretary, researched the subject in 1982, and submitted the following to W.B. Ray Hilton, Lodge Secretary at that time:
“For many years I have been more or less interested in the origin of the name GATE OF THE TEMPLE, but not enough to make a serious effort to learn more about the subject. I suppose there have been many others who have handled this in the same manner. There really should be some determination made. I am enclosing several verses that were copied from the third chapter of THE ACTS. I believe the answer to the origin of our name may be here.”
“I am reasonably certain that one of the first masters of the lodge was a minister. If this is true we can be rather sure about what I have found. It may be a good idea to include this in a future edition of the Lodge Newsletter and invite the opinions of our membership.”
THE ACTS 3
Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour.
And a certain man lame from his mothers womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the GATE OF THE TEMPLE which is called BEAUTIFUL, to ask alms of them that entered the temple;
Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alms.
And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, look on us.
And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them.
Then Peter said, silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.
And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.
And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking and leaping, and praising God.
And all the people saw him walking and praising God.
And they knew that it was he which sat for alms at the BEAUTIFUL GATE OF THE TEMPLE.
In compliance with Bro. Clark’s suggestion, the matter was published in the January, 1983 lodge newsletter, with a request for comments by any interested members. No comments were received, and to date no further action has been taken. It is unlikely that we will ever know why the name was selected, nor the name of the person who proposed it.
In 1972, as Worshipful Master Elmer McGregor was planning the Lodge Centennial Celebration, he reviewed some of the history of the lodge operations and discovered that one family stood out prominently in the progress and development of the lodge for some 59 years of the 100 years of its existence. It was the Clark family, consisting of the grandfather, his two sons, and a grand son.
Edward W. Clark was W.M. in 1910 and Secretary from 1911 to 1941
Jack Clark was W.M. in 1934
Frank W. Clark was W.M. in 1940 and Secretary from 1942 to 1950
William G. Clark was Secretary from 1951 to 1969
At W. Bro. McGregor’s request, W. Bro. Frank Clark reluctantly agreed to write an article for the 100th anniversary program. This is what he wrote:
This article in your 100TH Anniversary Program is written under coercion and duress, and by forceful summons of your Worshipful Master, Elmer McGregor. I didn’t want to do it. He said he wouldn’t pay anything for it, and therefore, I don’t care whether you guys like the item or not.
W. Bro. McGregor insisted on an article about “The Clarks in the Gate of the Temple.” He and his officers decided they should find some old bat that had been around the lodge too long, and who would remember things far back in the early days of the lodge. I am Frank Clark, and I was selected to be the bat. He said if I didn’t write the article he would get someone else and I sure as ____, I mean I certainly couldn’t afford to have that happen.
Memories are becoming more important to me with the hurrying years, and some of the best are concerned with Gate of the Temple. My first visit to a lodge room came at a time when I was too young to have any understanding at all about the nature or purpose of the room. The lodge was upstairs over the Ed. V. Williams clothing store on Commercial Street. It could have been either 1909 or 1910. I was with my father who went there on an errand of some kind as an officer. It had to be on a Sunday morning, for no one was around, even on the streets.
The room was dark for the blinds were drawn. Everything there was strange and unusual enough to be mysterious. I remember the deep silence and a feeling of wonder and comfort during the visit to the room. I have often pondered on the reason why such a circumstance would be interesting enough to a child to create a lasting memory.
The lodge purchased the vacant lot where our temple now stands and I remember the lot very well. It was covered with cinders, but I planted a sweet potato patch there one year. The rent was free. If there was any profit from the endeavor it was poorly invested.
My father was Edward W. Clark, Master of the lodge in 1910, and then its Secretary for the following thirty years. My brothers, Jack and Edward Lee, and I took our Masonic work together. I was particularly privileged by having the very great and wonderful Bert S. Lee in charge of my work. He later gave me much of his excellent library of Masonic books, including the autographed copy of the Grand Lodge minutes for the year he was Grand Master. The books are now in our library at the lodge. He was a Mason beyond belief in both service and accomplishment. The story must be true for it has come on steadily through the years how on the night of his initiation Bro. Lee was given a Masonic Manual, and as a Joke was told that he must memorize every word in the book. He proceeded to do exactly as he was instructed and it launched him on a Masonic career which I doubt was ever matched in this or any other country. His four sons, Laurence, Francis, Raymond and Richard were all members of Gate of the Temple and this may be a record in itself.
My brother Jack was Master of the lodge in 1934. I was elected to that office in 1940, and soon thereafter took over the Secretary’s position from my father. I was booted in 1953 and they gave the job to Bill Clark. I guess Bill did alright, but you know how the old gripe goes — “they don’t make them like they did in the good old days.” Everybody used to think Bill was my older brother, but he is a nephew — Jack’s kid. Anyway, Bill’s tenure in office made a total of 59 consecutive years the three of us worked in the office of Secretary.
There was a time when this organization was derisively referred to by some as the “Clark Lodge.” The title was used to express various feelings of the members, including disapproval, amity, ridicule — the whole gamut. Whether the comments were earned or not I personally always enjoyed the reference because it always seemed to remind me that I was a close part of a hard-working lodge that was really on its way.
But only a small part. It would be ridiculous to write of this family in the lodge without reporting on the hundreds of members the Clarks worked with and under. Small bands or cliques would best describe these groups. A clique among Masonic office holders? Of course! A small exclusive circle of men. Not a snobbisy or narrow coterie, but officers of the lodge closely knitted for service to the fraternity, in social gatherings, and tied together in friendships that often last a lifetime.
Individually, and working separately, the officers could never generate the interest in lodge affairs and build for Masonry. We have to examine some of these cliques to know of their benefits. During the years when our temple was being planned the group consisted of such well-remembered men as John Klingner, Emmet Mitchell, Paul Oliver, William J. Craig, Emmett Cavin, Waldo Renshaw, and Ed Clark. They were closely associated in their trades and businesses. They hunted and fished together and some formed the old Rainbow Hunting and Fishing Club – building a dam at the site of the old Ritter Mill. I remember helping seine small bass from Wilson Creek to stock the lake. Singly, these men would have been ineffective as officers in the lodge. Together, they planned the Temple, sold stock in the Association and completed the building.
Official cliques change fast and regularly. Officers become Past Masters and interest slows as new ones come along. But Treasurers and Secretaries seem to stick around longer. Consider the long record of W. Brothers Charles Young, John Klingner and his son Bennett Klingner. The lodge never knew or wanted anyone else as its Treasurer until Bennett honked out with the applause of his brethren in 1969. He said he wanted to quit with Bill Clark to end the Klingner—Clark era and I have since held his act to be a nice courtesy and a pleasant compliment to my family.
Charity was the chief interest of the lodge at the time when Dorsey Reynolds, Riley Forgey, Charles Chalender, Jack Clark, Fred Slentz, and Tom Ferguson were members of our select group, for these were depression years and many of our number needed help. Through these years the lodge seemed more concerned with charity than at any time in my memory, and officers were bound together closely in this activity. They were even boastful of their efforts in this Masonic function. I can’ still hear M.W. Brother Bert S. Lee asking about our cash balance and on learning that the figure was substantial, he would remark that if we had that much in the Treasury we were not taking care of our charity work. Well, the guys were certainly working at it.
The Frisco bunch! What a clique that was. This gang really took over and there never was a group more dedicated to service in Gate of the Temple. Remember them? I sure as _____, I mean, I certainly do because I sat around the place as Secretary and watched them go to work. Their “thing” was getting the building, its equipment, and the lodge furnishings, from boiler room on up in top condition. By their skills and with their Frisco connections everything seemed to progress magically and at small cost.
I can still see them installing a new boiler, wrapping pipes, redoing the kitchen, sewing drapes for the East, and working on just about everything around the place.
W. Bro. Ed Grundberg was a great force behind all of us during these months. His love for the fraternity and for all of us, and a smile and spirit of great warmth kept everybody steady on the Job. Spinning off from the Grundherg-Frisco group were such aggressive and excellent Masters as Osa Godfrey, Ed Merritt, Hayden Campbell, Ralph Barnaby, Francis Matney, and Harry Sherer. For awhile it looked like we might have to move to the Frisco shops.
What next? Well, it was really something! This time the cops took over. Lester Scott supplied the energy that nearly blew the place apart. This most excellent Master was so enthusiastic he wore everybody out. There were city policemen, state patrolmen, and deputy sheriffs in the basement and in the rafters. If it had been any place else I would have been downright uneasy, but these guys were the world’s best. Why, Al Leslie even congratulated me when he caught me one night on the way to the Harvey House with an out-dated license plate.
It was Bennett Klingner that hung the name “the Mad Master of Gate of the Temple” on Lester, and the name was a genuine tribute. He organized an all-night meeting and all of us predicted no one would come. After all, Masons aren’t that kooky. Well, Lester had members all over the place all night and ready for breakfast the next morning. They slept in chairs, on the steps, and on kitchen tables.
He got the city fire department over there one morning and they washed down the alley behind the Temple. He titled the place CLARK PLAZA and lined the whole alley with tables and chairs for the largest and most wonderful party I, have ever seen in Masonic circles. Working closely with him in this very special clique were such men as Earl Foster, Newton Edwards, Sherman Salvog, Charles Loveland, Al Leslie, and Harley Gibson. My remembrance of Lester Scott will always be based on pure wonder and admiration.
Trailmobile! There was a crew of genuine workers, and the big pusher wasn’t even a member of our lodge. He was Frank Beyer, and he was assisted by men like Pierce Eaton, Maurice Boughner, Kenneth Long, Tom Doyle and many others, all from Trailmobile. For awhile it appeared that the lodge might have to move again, and this time to the Trailmobile shop.
Did this end the cliques? Certainly not! You’ve got a lulu of a bunch running wild right now. This small band or special group of Gate’s members went to work on the long dormant RICE PARK property on Table Rock Lake. You know them all for they are the “now” generation. Ray Hilton, John Lorenz, Bill Foster, Bill Clark, Bob Soden, Jim Chalfant, Clovis Burrell, Charley Sims, Kenneth Dyche, Tom Rolufs, Buck Johnson, Cecil Griffin, Raymond Whiteley, Arnold Mallonee, Gary Messier, Floyd Ramsey, and Wimp Mallonee. They supplied the intelligence and back-breaking labor. There were others, and working together they have turned a wilderness into a splendid park for our membership. This retreat was given to the lodge by our brother Benjamin Rice, whose grave is just across the cove from the park he dreamed of.
I have left out a hundred names and events I should include here, but after all, Elmer has told me I’m not getting paid for this stuff, and he also told me to hold the article down to 75 words.
But I must reserve this special paragraph for my remembrance of our beloved Most Worshipful Brother William J. Craig. He belonged to all of us and through all the years. Master of the lodge in 1917, he never stopped working for Masonry throughout his entire life. It would take the whole pamphlet to relate my memories of this great Mason, or our close friendship, visitations to other lodges, and of our reliance on him for everything. When I got out of line with some hair-brained idea about how to handle or conduct the lodge’s affairs, or work, I always went to my friend. And he would say, “Well, Frank, I believe I would stay with the traditional methods – with what we know is right” and there was always available the advice I could accept without question.
Well, it has developed that this is not a Clark Lodge after all. Their part was small indeed, but indeed it was wonderful to me. By order of our Worshipful Master you have just shared some memories which in age, make up a cherished part of my life.
I believe I will just sit here for awhile and go through a few more.
Frank W. Clark 1972