The burial site of William P. Kemp, one of the founders of the Guadalupe Lodge #237 F. & A. M.

The burial site of William Kemp, one of the founders of the Guadalupe Lodge #237 F. & A. M. 

One of the oldest lodges in California began on the night of June 12, 1874, when nine residents of Guadalupe met to form a new Masonic Lodge. All of the men were Master Masons affiliated with other lodges in the state. Jacob Edelman and James A. Norris were members of the Confidence Lodge at Castroville. Russell Parkhurst was a member of the San Simeon Lodge in Cambria; William Kemp and M.V. Robbins were members of the Pajaro Lodge in Watsonville: B.F. Thomas was affiliated with the Keith Lodge in Gilroy; John Fleck was a member of the Santa Cruz Lodge; and William Harmon and J. Johnson were members of the King David Lodge in San Luis Obispo.

Upon a motion made by Jacob Edelman, it was voted that the lodge be called the Guadalupe Lodge. The brothers elected Jacob Edelman to the post of First Worshipful Master, Russell Parkhurst, Senior Warden, and James A. Norris, Junior Warden.

Since it is a Masonic requirement for a prospective lodge to be properly constituted by the Grand Lodge, it must first be recommended for dispensation by the “nearest or most convenient” lodge. A petition was forwarded to the King David Lodge No. 209 in San Luis Obispo. The Worshipful Master of the King David Lodge accepted the petition and forwarded it to the California Grand Master of Masons, along with demits from the nine petitioners.

The group's first meetings were held in the two-story adobe building owned by the Independent Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF) at a rental charge of $10 per month.

On Oct. 24, when Guadalupe Lodge No. 237 was granted a charter from the Grand Lodge, the subject first arose about raising money with which to pay for a cemetery grounds for its members. A committee of three was appointed to confer with the Odd Fellows.

In October 1880, when a new lodge was formed in Lompoc, five members of the Guadalupe Lodge No. 237 were granted demits to the new lodge. That same year, the cemetery committees of the Masons and Odd Fellows satisfied a government regulation by incorporating as the Cemetery Association.

In July of 1874, the Lodge appointed a committee of three (William Kemp, Benjamin Thomas and Martin Robbins) to confer with members of the Guadalupe IOOF regarding obtaining suitable grounds for a cemetery.

The property agreed upon for purchase is the site of Guadalupe’s cemetery, located at Guadalupe and West Main streets.

In May 1877, the two groups agreed to set prices for the lots at $5, $10 and $15, depending on the size. In October, prices increased to $10, $15 and $20, with Masons and Odd Fellows being given the right to purchase lots at half price.

The Masons and the Odd Fellows owned the cemetery jointly, with the Odd Fellow collecting the burial fees, giving half of the monies to the Masons. Both organizations helped to maintain the grounds and to split the expenses.

The first meeting of the Guadalupe Masons as a chartered lodge was held Nov. 21, 1874, with 11 brothers signing its charter.

Perhaps the most distinguished member of the Guadalupe Lodge was Dr. William T. Lucas, whose petition was received and accepted on April 11, 1881. Lucas became a Master Mason in June and elected Worshipful Master on Dec. 5. He served as Master Mason during 14 different years.

Lucas, a lifetime member of the Guadalupe Lodge and prominent member of the order, was elected Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of California Masons in 1896. He was reputed to have had the most complete set of books on Masonry in the state, a collection that he was forced to replace twice because of fires. At the time of his death in 1931, Lucas was the Dean of Grand Masters of Masons in California.

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As more people moved into Guadalupe, with most of them purchasing property from Theodore LeRoy, membership in the lodge grew.

In October 1880, when a new lodge was formed in Lompoc, five members of the Guadalupe Lodge No. 237 were granted demits to the new lodge.

Central City was also growing, with many settlers who took up government land joining the Guadalupe Lodge No. #237. In June 1882, 16 of those members demitted to form what became the Hesperian Lodge No. 264 F & A M in Central City. When the new lodge was chartered in October 1882, with a membership of 20, all of the men, with the exception of two, had come from the Guadalupe Lodge No. 237.

The first mention of Guadalupe Hall Stock appeared in the July 1880 minutes when the group was instructed to purchase B. Clayton's share for $30. Other such sales took place when members demitted to other lodges.

It is understood that the stock sales were meant to finance a future home for the organization.

Records show that on July 1, 1920 the Guadalupe Masons and Odd Fellows turned the cemetery over to the county for maintenance.

The Guadalupe Lodge met in the IOOF hall until 1913, when it joined with the Odd Fellows in building a new two-story structure at what is now 959 Guadalupe St. The Guadalupe Lodge met in the new building until 1944, when it became practical to move to Santa Maria.

When the Guadalupe Lodge moved to Santa Maria in 1955 to the new Masonic lodge just completed by the Hesperian Lodge at Cypress and Vine streets, the membership was 609. Over the years, the group increased its membership substantially.

In 1973, when the Santa Maria Development Agency determined that the site of the Hesperian Temple was in the way of the new mall and parking structure that was scheduled to be built, the Guadalupe Lodge moved into temporary quarters in Orcutt. Two years later, it moved into the new Hesperian Lodge at 700 E. Lakeview Road.

In 1974, the Guadalupe Lodge observed its centennial year with a dinner and program under the direction of Past Master William J. Murphy as chairman of the program, Past Master Frederick O. Sherrill as historian and Past Master James E. McGlothlin as master of ceremonies.

In 1979, Past Master Henry R. Gewe, a 50-year member and the group's oldest living Past Master, was awarded the Hiram Award at a dinner in Los Alamos for his outstanding service to Masonry and to his community.

In December 2003, Guadalupe Lodge No. 237, a lodge that had made its mark on the history of the Santa Maria Valley, merged with Arroyo Grande Lodge No. 274, thus forming the Central Coast No. 237.

It was sad to see the Guadalupe lodge’s long history come to a close.

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Shirley Contreras lives in Orcutt and writes for the Santa Maria Valley Historical Society. She can be contacted at 623-8193 or at shirleycontreras2@yahoo.com. Her book, “The Good Years,” a selection of stories she’s written for the Santa Maria Times since 1991, is on sale at the Santa Maria Valley Historical Society, 616 S. Broadway.