Creason Visits Historic Catlin Lodge No. 285

From Catlin, IL: 3/7/09

Todd and Valerie were invited to join the members of Catlin Lodge No. 285 at a Past Master’s Dinner. After an enormous meal of fried chicken with all the fixings, and home-made desserts, Todd spoke to the audience from the 113 year old stage of the Catlin Opera House—one the first floor of Catlin Lodge No. 285. He talked about the long 150-year tradition of Masonry in Catlin, the history of Masonry in America, and ended with some interesting history he dug up about Catlin Lodge No. 285. The building, as it stands today, looks just like the photograph above taken in the 1940s. The Opera House itself underway a major renovation by the members of the lodge, and continues to be a community meeting place, as it has been since it was built in 1896.

An interesting note, the Lodge held its first meeting in the “new” building the week after another Freemason, William McKinley, was inaugurated President of the United States.

The following is reprinted, in part, from the Catlin Historical Society webpage:

“In the year of 1858 the Catlin Lodge No.285 received their Charter from the Grand Lodge of the state of Illinois of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons. The Lodge was organized on the 7th day of October 1858, with the first Worshipful Master being Dr. Allen Latham. In the beginning they were located in the old frame school building on the cur-rent Catlin Park grounds. This frame building was later condemned as unfit for children, the brick structure which we refer to as the old grade schoolwas then built on the same site. In the late 1890’s the members started to consider building a two-story building of their own.

In 1896 lot #19 in the Layton McDonald Second Addition to the village of Catlin was purchased for $135.00 and construction began. The Masonic building, better known as the Opera House still stands on North Sandusky Street. For many years the first floor was used for community activities, such as school plays, home talent plays, medicine shows, movies and even basketball.

In 1914 the Lodge had a curtain made for the stage. Local Catlin and Danville business advertisements were sold and placed on the curtain. In later years the curtain was removed and the Catlin Historical Society be-came caretakers of this large piece of Mason history. Last year the Society, whom regrettably had no area large enough to display, returned the curtain to its rightful owners and once again it hangs on the Masonic stage. Its showing age but still looks great! “

Catlin Lodge will be marking their 150th Anniversary with a re-dedication ceremony this Fall.

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