Centennial Lodge #4
Centennial Lodge #4 Charter
Centennial Lodge #4 Charter
After Prince Hall Masonry had begun in Boston, the desire for expansion followed. Needing at least three local lodges to form a Grand Lodge, Grand Lodges were formed progressively westward, beginning in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania under dispensation from Massachusetts. Once a Grand Lodge was formed in Pennsylvania in 1815, they granted dispensation to Ohio in 1849, who granted a dispensation to Kansas in 1875, who provided the opportunity to establish Prince Hall Masonry in Colorado in 1876.
Centennial Lodge #4 first came into existence on January 18th, 1876, one day after the formation of the Grand Lodge, and so named for the 100 year(Centennial) anniversary of the passing of the Declaration of Independence. It was one of two lodges in the city of Denver and is one of the oldest lodges in the jurisdiction of Colorado which was, at that time, styled "The Most Worshipful Grand Lodge AF&AM of Colorado". That title remained until 1922, when the "A" was dropped and the name "Prince Hall" was added because there had already been a Grand Lodge present in Colorado with the same previous name.
The earliest available records of Centennial #4 date back to the 1882 Grand Lodge Session under the guidance and direction of Worshipful Master John F. Frazier, who was elected Grand Master later that year. Between the years of 1888 and 1890, Centennial Lodge #4 was declared defunct and remained so until a group of seven Brothers met informally in the home of Bro. Robert Newman to discuss restoring Centennial Lodge #4's Warrant and membership in the Grand Lodge. After an application was drafted and submitted to the Grand Lodge, Centennial Lodge #4 was re-established on August 10th, 1898 by the current Grand Master, Thomas J. Riley, with D.C. Woodrow selected as Worshipful Master for the remainder of that year. The Lodge roster at that time consisted of eight members. On May 10th, 1920 another lodge, Pythagoras Lodge #7 went defunct and the members were assigned to Centennial. A building association was organized and through this effort a Lodge Hall was purchased and the first meeting was held there on March 28th, 1921, with Joseph Young as Worshipful Master. In 1944, there were over 40 members listed on the rolls of Centennial. The following year the membership was listed at only two Brothers, and the lodge was in danger of losing its property and being overtaken by the International Congress of Lodges from Texas, however through the legal assistance of Bro. Timothy G. Grandberry and W.K. Earnest Howard, this was avoided. The very next year in 1946, the lodge had risen to 32 members on the roll with the numbers increasing every year until by 1962, there were 176 members on the roster, establishing Centennial as the largest lodge in the jurisdiction. Centennial held this distinction for the next five years, all the while bringing 42 members into the lodge in both 1964 & 1965, respectively, and reaching a peak membership of 260 members. Unfortunately in 1967, Worshipful Master Ira C. Meadows had to drop 116 members and most of them have never been reinstated in Masonry.
Over the years and amid the struggles, Centennial Lodge #4 enjoyed many successes. During the Korean War, the Grand Lodge canceled relief benefits, so the members of Centennial established their own relief fund. Later, under the leadership of Worshipful Master John C. Moore, Centennial purchased and operated an Amoco service station at 26th & York St. as well as operated a record store on 28th & Welton St. for many years. Tragedy struck, however, on March 31st, 1977 when, while being remodeled, the lodge building that was owned and utilized by the members became victim to arson and was burned down, causing more than $15,000 in property damage(equivalent to almost $50,000 today) and destroying countless valuables and memories that money cannot replace. Shortly after that, a '4-11 Association' was formed between Centennial Lodge #4 and their sister chapter, Queen of the South Chapter #11, Order of the Eastern Star, for the purpose of combining their efforts and resources in the hopes of finding a structure that would benefit both entities. For the next 34 years, the Brothers searched in earnest for a suitable place to call home; a search that ended in 2010 under Worshipful Master Hendrix P. Lewis when, while looking at one location, a group of Brothers noticed the building right across from it was for sale and pursued it over the next few months. Then on April 8th, 2011, under Worshipful Master Michael Giles, Jr. and thanks to the efforts of Past Masters Thomas Mickens & Steven Anderson, Most Worshipful Past Grand Master Garland Osborne as well as Bro. Joseph Massie for his commercial real estate expertise, Centennial Lodge #4 purchased the building located at 650 Billings St. in Aurora, Colorado, formerly a daycare center and now known, in partnership with the members of Queen of the South Chapter #11, as the Masonic Cultural Center. After undergoing major construction to redesign the building interior, a new chapter began in Centennial's history when Worshipful Master Robert A. Burse called the first meeting in the new lodge hall to order on April 8th, 2013; two years to the date after its purchase. To commemorate this historic occasion, a cornerstone ceremony was performed on April 27th, 2013, by Most Worshipful Grand Master Arturo V. De Los Reyes and officers of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Colorado & Jurisdiction and witnessed by over 100 Masons, Eastern Stars and guests.
Today, as an Aurora Lodge, Centennial Lodge #4 continues to grow and is again one of the largest and most active lodges in the jurisdiction, with members receiving Worshipful Master, Master Mason and Secretary of the Year, often in consecutive years, as well as being awarded 'Lodge of the Year' several times .