About Our Lodge
2020 marked the 100th Anniversary of Prospect Lodge #714, located on the south side of Indianapolis. One Hundred years ago, America began an era that came to be known as the “Roaring 20s”. Now a century later, the ’20s are roaring again. Since March of 2020, Coronavirus or COVID-19 has put a stop to many normal activities, closed schools, and businesses, and generally played havoc with the economy. The disease has resulted in self-isolation and social distancing. As a result, meetings and other functions within Indiana’s Masonic Lodges had come to a virtual standstill. The Grand Lodge has been at work in recent weeks, to ease some restrictions on Masonic gatherings, but the ups and downs of the COVID-19 pandemic have played havoc with this flexibility as government restrictions ease and then tighten back up. Let us hope that COVID-19 can be dealt with by the end of this year and that the work of this Lodge began some 100 years ago, can continue.
So, mote it be!
History of Prospect Lodge #714 F&AM
100 Years and Counting
By William Bell, Past Master 2010
Tradition has it that Prospect Lodge was organized by a group of men who were primarily railroad employees. They wanted to form their own Lodge as they worked odd shifts and could not attend meetings during normal hours. This is one reason that for many years, Prospect Lodge has held a Master Mason’s Degree on the 4th of July at 4:00 AM to commemorate these early Prospect Masons. A previous document prepared by Marvin B. Lewallen, #714 PM indicates that there was a perception for the need of a Masonic Lodge to serve the southside of Indianapolis. In 1919, the Grand Lodge acted and assigned Oscar Merrill, PM Logan Lodge #575, the task of organizing the proposed Lodge. This proposal was discussed between Br. Merrill and number of other Master Masons and an agreement was reached. Leslie E. Dobbs, PM of Logan Lodge was chosen to serve as Worshipful Master.
A dispensation from Grand Lodge that empowered the emerging Lodge to work, was granted on October 5, 1919, and the first meeting was held on November 1, 1919. That first stated meeting took place in the A.L. Franke Building, at the southwest corner of Prospect and State Streets; the actual address being 1637 Prospect Street. This was to be the home of the Lodge for the next 40 years. At that first meeting a full complement of elected and appointed officers was present, plus 15 members, and 21 visitors. Thirty-three petitions for the Degree of Master Mason were received. Sadly, this number of attendees and petitions is a far cry from what we as Masons are experiencing a century later. While nothing in writing has been found thus far, the presumption is that Prospect Lodge was named after its location on Prospect Street. On May 24, 1920, a Charter was granted to Prospect Lodge #714 F&AM to take its place among the regular Lodges of Indiana.
At the stated meeting on February 2, 1921, a Building Committee was appointed and two months later, on April 6th, the Committee recommended the purchase of the A.L. Franke Building already in use by the Lodge. The purchase cost was $20,000 and a motion was made and seconded to buy the property at which time the motion was carried unanimously. Said property was purchased on May 5th. Certain portions of the building were being rented by other persons and these rentals were to be maintained, with the income derived placed in a “Building Fund”. This fund was only to be used to pay for the building, plus appropriations could be made for building upkeep and maintenance for Prospect Lodge, and to promote a means of raising funds to liquidate the indebtedness of the Lodge and encourage the general welfare. After some six years of hard work, members of Prospect Lodge paid off the mortgage. Between January 1923 and the Stated Meeting on Sept 5, 1923, the By-Laws were completed, amended, approved, and printed. Lodge dues were set at $6 a year. The Fall of 1927 saw a recommendation for remodeling of the Lodge due to increased membership. Such improvements as a new entrance, ventilation system for the kitchen and a new carpet were approved. These improvements, plus new furnishings and décor prompted a Dedication Ceremony on November 29, 1930.
A visitation by Kosmos Lodge #896 from Chicago took place at the Stated Meeting on April 25, 1931. There was a huge attendance of 116 members from Prospect, 19 from Kosmos, with many other visitors representing 59 different Lodges. A reciprocal visit took place on October 17, 1931, with Lodge members leaving Indianapolis via the Big Four Railway: departing at 12:00 noon. During this period Prospect Lodge member made many visitations to other Masonic Lodges; some of these included Lapel Lodge #625 in Lapel, IN (May 22, 1937); Roosevelt Lodge #716 in Gary (Oct 2, 1937); McCordsville Lodge #501 in McCordsville; Delaware Lodge #46, in Muncie (Dec 4, 1937) and to Rose Croix Lodge #704 in Arcadia, IN (Feb 17, 1938). Of special interest is the historic notation of the “Sunrise Meeting” on July 4, 1938. This was the second such meeting at Prospect. There were many visitors including the Worthy Grand Steward & Tyler, Grand Patron of the Grand Chapter of the OES and members of 38 different Lodges. Englewood Lodge #715 hosted an Anniversary Meeting on May 21, 1938 celebrating the Anniversary of the Chartering of Englewood, Evergreen Lodge #713 and Prospect Lodge #714. There were lots of Masonic events back in the day!
May 22, 1938 was denoted as Prospect Day at the Indiana Masonic Home. Prospect Chapter #452 Order of the Eastern Star (OES) dedicated a tree on the Home grounds following services by the Blue Lodge. Prospect Lodge continued to grow and membership increased from 216 to some 1,400 Masons. The bottom floor of the Lodge was still occupied by a hardware store and because of the membership numbers, the lease to this portion of the building was not renewed. A “Sinking Fund” was created and the remodeling cost was estimated at $1,500-1,600. The space was then converted to a larger dining room later in 1939.
The War Years
With war clouds brewing and the uncertainty that such cataclysmic events bring; on October 1, 1941, the “Viola M. Baxter and Mary J. Baxter Memorial Fund” was established. Among other things it could be used for charitable and relief work. The attack on Pearl Harbor by the Empire of Japan on December 7, 1941 and the resulting entry of the United States into World War II did not seem to slow things down a whole lot at Prospect Lodge. In May 1942, the Worshipful Master recommended that each newly raised Master Mason should be presented with a Holy Bible. This recommendation was adopted, and this tradition continues to the present day.
In an effort in raising as many Master Masons as possible during WWII, degree teams were formed. Entered Apprentice (long form), Fellow Craft and Master Masons (long form) Degrees were administered to candidates 24 hours a day, six days a week, with Sundays off. In 1943 some 243 men were raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason.
One of the notable proceedings during this era had to do with the Baxter Estate, which was held jointly by Prospect Lodge, Prospect Chapter #452 OES and Marion Lodge #35. At the stated meeting on Apr 7, 1943, it was approved that the real estate would be held and rented with rental payments divided into thirds. The situation remained static with Marion Lodge pushing for the property to be sold. During the Prospect Lodge stated meeting on Mar 1, 1944, it was agreed that the property would be sold and the Trustees be empowered to take such action. The sale of the Baxter property was reported at the May 3, 1944 stated meeting and the three shares from the sale amounted to $8,715.38 each for Marion Lodge and Prospect Lodge and OES chapter. Interestingly, Prospect Lodge voted to use $3,730.00 towards the purchase of War Bonds.
Post War to the End of the 20th Century
With the end of WWII Prospect Lodge began to look to the future and that included making sure there would be new generations of Masons and OES members. The Indiana Grand Lodge had authorized the use of Masonic facilities for youth organizations. Prospect Chapter #452 OES voted to sponsor Bethel #4 Jobs Daughter at the stated meeting on Feb 2, 1949.
A little over a year later the first Tuesday in September, the Prospect Chapter of DeMolay had their first initiation of new members. This was announced during the Oct 4, 1950 stated meeting.
A lot of times today we see the monetary values of things “back-in-the-day” and think, “Boy, I wish I could buy this ___ today for that price!” An example would be Masonic Dues. At the stated meeting on Sept 7, 1949, an amendment was made to the By-Laws, Section 1 of Article VIII. A motion was made and seconded, then carried by vote of the Lodge to increase annual dues to $8.00. This seems a petty figure today, but it must be realized that the buying power of the dollar, hence the value was much greater. So, in 1949 money that today would be the equivalent of just under $88.00. You must also have to realize that the average family income in 1949 was $3,100.00; that puts things in perspective.
Almost from the beginning, Prospect Lodge #714 had been having an annual Trio-Lodge Anniversary in cooperation with Evergreen Lodge #713 and Englewood Lodge #715 as all three Lodges had been chartered very near the same time. As all 3 Lodges were growing, these annual celebrations became more difficult to organize. The Masters of all 3 Lodges decided that joint anniversary events should be abolished and each Lodge hold their own ceremony. This course of action was voted on and passed during the Mar 1, 1950 stated meeting.
Prospect Lodge continued to grow in membership and the use of the Lodge by other Masonic-related organizations was on the rise. The original 2-story brick building on Prospect Street with its steep rear stairway was fast becoming inadequate. Committees had been appointed in the past to look at expanding and remodeling the existing Lodge building or to consider building a new Masonic Temple as they were called then, but no action had been taken. In 1956 another committee was appointed by Bro. Roy Neville, WM to study the different possibilities and propose a course of action. After nearly a year of feasibility studies the committee found that the cost of expanding and re-modeling the existing Lodge building would cost almost two-thirds of the outlay for new grounds and a building.
In January 1957, the Lodge approved the purchase of the property near the intersection of Troy and Meridian Streets (2901 S. Meridian). Although the Prospect Masons now had a lot, there was some consternation over the new building to be constructed on said lot. Wrangling between factions in the Lodge would go on for more than two years. In 1958 each Lodge member was assessed $350 each for the new building, which could be paid overtime in installments. At last, on the pivotal date of July 4, in 1959, a ground-breaking ceremony was held, with construction commencing a few weeks later.
The cornerstone for the new Prospect Lodge Temple was laid on Oct 17, 1959, by Bro. Carl Humphries, Grand Master of the Indiana Grand Lodge F&AM. As in most construction projects there were number of problems and delays. Number of groups and individuals made donations to the furnishing of the Lodge. The beautiful marble Altar in the center of the Lodge Room was provided as a memorial by Mr. and Mrs. C. Lee Boston and the window of the Secretary’s office was a memorial by Mrs. James Welch. The Lodge Room carpeting was provided by the Prospect Trowel Club. The Dumb Waiter near the kitchen was a special gift by Aubrey White and Bro. William Spyr, PM #714. The Lodge kitchen was equipped by the Prospect OES Chapter. There were other donations and gifts too numerous to mention.
In September 1960 more than 8,000 people came to inspect Prospect’s new Temple and at the time, it was considered one of the most beautiful in the state. Dedication Ceremonies, with tours of the new building were held on Nov 12, 1960, officiated by the Indiana Grand Lodge. During a dinner at 6:30 PM an address was given by Bro. John Jefferson, Grand Master. At the time of the Dedication, Prospect Lodge #714 had a membership of 1,761 Master Masons.
The Trowel Club was mentioned briefly above. This Masonic organization existed to promulgate the Degree Work of the Lodge. Master Masons would work on the various parts of the Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft and Master Masons Degrees and once they were proficient in at least 7 different parts; with an emphasis on the Master Mason’s Degree, they were awarded a Trowel, the principle working tool of a Master Mason. It’s noted that Bro. Frank Capler, Sr. PM #714 was at one time a member of the Trowel Club. Sadly, this group is no longer in existence; it would certainly be helpful to new Lodge officers today.
Prospect Lodge and its members continued to have associations with other Masonic Lodges, both in Indiana and in surrounding states. An annual Tri-State Lodge Meeting was set up with Cynthia Lodge (now Kilwinning Lodge) in Cincinnati, Ohio and with Shawnee Lodge in Louisville, Kentucky. These Lodges were about equidistant with Prospect Lodge and all were about 115 miles apart. During the meetings, a meal was enjoyed by the attendees and then later the Lodge members shared their work by presenting their degrees, which vary somewhat from state to state. These meetings were hosted by a different Lodge each time. At some point in the 1970’s the meetings came to an end. A paper souvenir apron was found indicating one such meeting on Oct 7, 1972. In more recent times an effort was made to revive the Tri-State Lodge Meetings and in 2006, members of Prospect Lodge visited Shawnee Lodge and then later Prospect Masons accompanied by Shawnee Masons visited Kilwinning Lodge to inquire as to their interest. A Tri-State Meeting was held at Prospect Lodge, but the next year when the meeting was to be held in Kentucky, Shawnee Lodge’s building suffered water damage and had to be cancelled. The meeting was never rescheduled. Prospect and Shawnee Lodges continue a relationship and in June of each year Shawnee invites Prospect Members to Churchill Downs for a day on “Millionaires Row”, dining and watching the horse racing.
Prospect Lodge has also gone “international” in its Masonic relationships. In September 1972, a group of about 80 Masons from various Lodges orchestrated by Eric Taylor, PM Monument Lodge #657 visited Tower Lodge #5159 in London, England. A relationship with Tower Lodge members was maintained over the years and then in September 1980, Bro. Frank Capler, Jr. PM #714, was on another visit to Tower Lodge and forged a friendship with Bro. Barry Griffiths, PM #5159, John Ward, PM #5159 and David Clarke, PM #5159 and St. Luke’s Lodge #44. All are Honorary member of Prospect Lodge #714, which has resulted in a closer friendship between the American and British Masons. Members from Prospect visited Tower Lodge in 2005 for their 75th Anniversary and presented the Indiana Master Masons Degree. Three Prospect members returned in 2006.
Then in 2008, twelve members of Tower Lodge came to the USA and presented their Master Masons Degree at Prospect Lodge to an assemblage of some 300 Masons. At this time Prospect designed and voted on a Prospect Logo (Upper Left just below the American flag). Which was placed on a certificate that was presented to ALL 300 Masons present. Each Mason was asked to place their name on a 3x5 card before the meeting. And while the presentation was occurring. The names were place on pre-made certificates (where Brothers Name Here is located). After the conclusion of the ceremony everyone was present with their owner certificate. Prospect Lodge members and guests from other Lodges have also visited Tower Lodge in 2011, 2015 (St. Luke’s Lodge #44, 250th Anniversary) and 2018. Presently (March 2021) COVID-19 in various strains has England locked down for their 4th. Scheduled to open June 21, 2021.
Over the years Lodge usage and Lodge events have dwindled. In the past there was an Octoberfest that was held in September as a fund-raiser. Prospect Lodge for many years had a monthly breakfast. This was open to the public and tickets were sold for this “all you could eat” meal; this was also a fund-raiser, but attendance fell off and the expense of holding it could no longer be justified. The Lodge has also on and off set up a booth at the Indiana Masonic Home Festival, which is usually held in September. For the enjoyment of Lodge members and opened to members of other Lodges and their spouses; Prospect Lodge has hosted tours to different locations over the years. In recent memory Michael J. Smith, PM #714, have organized bus trips lasting several days to Branson (2004, 2012 and 2017), Missouri and Tunica, Mississippi. Mike also organized travel to a Niagara Falls and Victoria Lodge #474 in Toronto Canada (2006).
Unfortunately, the “Golden Age of Fraternities” came to an end starting in the 1970’s and moving forward. Lodges were no longer were getting the attendance at stated and called meetings, memberships were down, causing dues to increase. An inevitable result of this was that some Lodges could no longer remain in operation. This happened to Irvington Lodge #666. A new Lodge Temple had the cornerstone laid in 1921 at 5515 East Washington Street and as the years progresses and membership declined, maintaining the building became an untenable burden. In 1995, Irvington Lodge consolidated with Prospect Lodge and during that year the Worshipful Master Joe A. Smith of Prospect and the Worshipful Master Thomas N. Tuttle of Irvington shared in Lodge leadership responsibilities. The Irvington Lodge furnishings are housed on the second floor of the Prospect Lodge Meeting Room and are set up so that actual Lodge work can be performed and it has been so utilized in the past.
Traveling to Oregon. In 2009, eight members of Prospect went to Portland, Oregon. A member from Prospect had moved to Oregon and they wanted to support him during his installation as Master of the Lodge there.
Coin Struck for the Re-Dedication 2010.
Coin Struck for the Re-Dedication 2010.
On June 12, 2010, a Building Rededication was held honoring Prospect’s Masonic Temple, which was 50 years old. The Indiana Grand Lodge officiated during this event and it was a monumental success. A special display case in the Tyler’s Room contains mementos from this rededication event. Dale Wheatley, PM #714, just prior to the rededication, the Tyler’s Room had been remodeled with wood paneling on the walls; some of this paneling covered over the Secretary’s Office Windows. Also new lighting was added, plus some new framed pictures. It certainly added to the appearance of the Lodge and was an improvement over the original cinder block walls.
“Checkerboard Tile” surrounding the Alter. In the upper right the Entered Apprentice symbol on the wall.
Picture taken by Carl E. Culmann, PGM at the 50 Year Re-Dedication Ceremony in 2010.
Until very recently Worshipful Bro. Frank E. Capler Sr., PM was the “Nut Man”. He sold bagged nuts of various kinds that included mixed nuts, cashews, pecans, peanuts and others; some chocolate coated. Money from the sale of these nuts usually found its way into improvements at Prospect Lodge. Two of these improvements that are most evident today are the white and black checkerboard tiles around the Masonic Altar and the huge wall hanging over the secretary’s desk that depicts the Prospect Lodge #714 Emblem. This emblem was adopted the year before the Building Rededication and lapel pins (shown below) were made for Lodge members and to give to newly raised Masons.
Coin Struck and Breast Jewel for Centennial Anniversary.
As the 100th year mark for Prospect Lodge #714 passes, the forecasts for the future are somewhat less than lustrous. The average age for members of the Lodge and the OES Chapter is in the 50–60-year range or older. This fact alone causes a damper on participation as elderly members can no longer get out to attend Lodge. Up until the last few years, degree work was being performed on most Wednesday nights and number of new Masons were being raised. Of course, this has always been a “Numbers Game” as only a percentage of newly raised Masons become active in the Lodge after having passed their 3rd Degree. In just recent memory initiations in the Blue Lodge and OES have substantially declined. Less members result in higher dues. It is the author’s fervent hope that Prospect Lodge can somehow reverse the present course and be a factor in “making good men better” for years to come.