The Lodge

Athol Masonic Temple

There have been active Freemasons in Athol for more than 200 years. Our current home at 336 Main Street was dedicated on Sunday, October 11, 1969. The following history was originally published in the official program for the dedication ceremony, which was attended by Most Worshipful Herbert H. Janes, Grand Master of Masons in Massachusetts, and his suite.

History of the Temple

Although the Masons of Athol dreamed for years of owning their own temple, in 1945 Star Lodge actually voted not to buy the Starret Building, which was then occupied by all of the Masonic bodies of Athol. It was offered at a very low price, but money was scarce in those days, so the project was dropped and the building was sold to other interests.

The talk of owning our own building continued on and off until in January 1961 the federal government abandoned the post office building at 336 Main Street, which they had occupied since March 3, 1913, in favor of a new building at 236 Main Street built on the site of the former home of Arthur H. Starret.

The first postmaster to occupy the office that we now call the Director’s Foyer was Festus G. Amsden who was appointed June 18, 1903 and served until April 11, 1914 at which time Edward J. Hayden was appointed, followed by Clarence E. Deane in 1923 and Richard P. Mullen in 1936. The present postmaster, Howard M. Hayden, was appointed in 1963 after having served as active postmaster since 1961.

This building now stands on the site of the former home of Charles F. Amsden whose house was removed to 28 Church Street, where it still stands. The Dr. Lindsey house was moved to 147 Ridge Avenue and other buildings were moved to the rear of 18 Church Street and remodeled into dwellings.

The first step taken toward the purchase of our own Masonic Temple was the formation and chartering of the Athol Masonic Charity and Education Society, Inc. on September 4, 1962. Several buildings and sites were considered and when the “old” post office was offered for bid, the corporation was high bidder. All bids were rejected as being too low. The second time the building was offered, we were again “high bid” and would have owned the building but for the “Cuban Crisis” at which time the General Services Administration withdrew the building from sale and moved some of its records and personnel from Boston to occupy a part of the lower floor as a bomb proof office. In 1966 the building was again put up for bid and we were outbid by Mr. Bernard A. Roy of Burlington, Vermont, who finally sold the building to the Corporation for his bid plus a reasonable handling charge.

In due time John Choenyak, an architect of Greenfield, was hired and the firm of Marshall M. Day & Son was awarded the contract as General Contractor for the job of renovation.

Practically all of the necessary demolition and rubbish removal was accomplished by the building committee members, as was the construction of many of the special features in the building (platforms, cupboards, etc.) The painting, internal and external, was all done by “slave” labor, mostly retired brethren.

It might be well to note that the kitchen was the coal bin. The boiler stoof in what is now the back end of the dining room; the boiler now occupies the old swing room. The director’s room was the postmaster’s office and the preparation room was occupied by the assistant postmaster.

The main smoke stack, ventilation shaft, a large vault and a toilet room occupied the “south east” corner of the main lodge room. All was removed by the committee. The ladies’ parlor replaces the money order area; the rest of the building was remarkably well designed to fit the needs of the Masonic bodies that will use it.

The Masons that have contributed their time, money and muscle to this project should be proud that they have not only provided a permanent home for the Masonic bodies of Athol, but have also preserved one of the fine land marks of the town for future generations to enjoy.