About the Lodge
The Rest of Story
Union Lodge #7 was chartered in October of 1857. The charter was issued for Fort Riley, because at the time, there was no Junction City. Union lodge has had several noteworthy persons during its early years.
In the fall of 1856, a petition of dispensation was drafted, and presented to Richard R. Rees, Grand Master of Kansas Territory. on January 6th, 1857, the petition was granted, and a dispensation was issued for the new lodge to meet. on January 31st, 1857, during its first regular stated communication, several names were suggested. The new lodge, being composed of both civilians and soldiers, adopted the name "Union", with Charles W. Beebe as the Worshipful Master, Thomas L. Brent as Senior Warden, and William Cuddy as the Junior Warden.
On October 20th, 1857, a charter was granted constituting Union Lodge #7 A.F.&A.M. as a regular lodge, at Fort Riley, Pawnee County, Kansas -- as the territory then embraced in Riley and Davis counties (now Geary county) was never known as Pawnee county, and Kansas, was at that time, a territory, there lies two errors within our charter. To this day, these errors were never changed or amended.
World War I and the entry of the United States into the war, had a profound influence on masonic growth in the Fort Riley, Junction City area. When General Leonard Wood changed the whole concept of turning civilians into soldiers, he had constructed the training area at Camp Funston. Effect? This training camp eventually brought about the largest number of brethren raised in any one year, to 105 in 1921. In 1943 and 1946, fires ravaged the lodge, making extensive remodeling and reconstruction necessary
On April 21, 1962, the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Kansas A.F.&A.M., was opened in Junction City for the purpose of laying the cornerstone for the Junction City Post Office, at 7th and Adams Streets. April 26th, 1965, a disastrous explosion and fire occurred in the jewelry store next to the Masonic Temple. Union Lodge was extended an invitation to use the facilities at the Knights of Columbus and I.O.O.F. halls, until the remodeling of their building was complete. In 1968, a motion was made and passed to grant life memberships to one who has attained 50 years in the Masonic Fraternity, the age limit for aspiring masons, was lowered to 18 in 1974, and Union #7's first Table Lodge was in 1975.
The building housing the Masonic Temple at 722 N. Washington St. didn't start its life out as the temple. When it was built in 1881, it was home to Grentner Hardware store. The three story building was a sight to see. Grentner used the upper floors as storage for his store on the ground level.
In 1905, G.E. Waters purchased the building and founded his hardware store. Later, in 1913, he sold the building to the Masons when he bought a building two doors to the north.
The Masons extensively remodeled the upper two floors of the building which included completely changing the façade from the original Romanesque style to a new "metropolitan" style. The remodel was completed in 1920. (Photos Above)
A grand opening was held April 12, 1921 in which, according to the Junction City Union, about 2,500 people attended and toured the renovated building. In the article the Union published on April 13, 1921, "The new brick front is distinctive and the reception rooms, banquet hall and kitchen on the second floor are splendidly adapted to the purposes they are intended, but it is on the third floor that the greatest changes have been made. The side walls have been built up 12 feet and huge steels arches do away with any supporting columns on the third floor."
The ground level of the building continued to house businesses including hardware, clothing and department stores.
The building is still in use today as the Quilter's Yard on the main level and the Junction City Masonic Union Lodge #7 A.F. & A.M. on the upper floors.
Union Lodge has a rich and extensive history, and YOU, can become a part of it today.
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