The Origins of Freemasonry in Norman, OK
Masonry in Oklahoma formally began on October 6, 1874, when representatives of three Lodges met and organized the Grand Lodge of Indian Territory, electing Granville McPherson as the first Grand Master. On November 5, 1890 the Grand Lodge issued the thirty-eighth charter in its jurisdiction to "Norman Lodge" to hold Masonic meetings in "or within three miles" of the City of Norman. As the state underwent a change from Indian Territory to Oklahoma Territory and eventually statehood, Norman Lodge moved with it. When the Grand Lodge of Oklahoma Territory was formed, it issued a new charter to Norman Lodge (No. 5) on December 3, 1892. When both Grand Lodges united in 1909, Norman Lodge reverted to the number it was originally issued (No. 38) and received the charter under which it currently operates on February 11, 1909.
Norman Lodge #38 recently celebrated the centennial anniversary of this charter by sealing a time capsule with important artifacts and personal letters from the officers of 2009. Norman Lodge on November 22nd, 1920. Willard E. Edwards, the inventor of the perpetual calendar was a member of Norman Lodge, affiliating in 1929, when he attended the University of Oklahoma. Besides the great men that were Masons, OU also has several important physical landmarks throughout the campus. Masonic cornerstones appear on many of OU’s buildings and were installed with much fanfare. For example, on November 3, 1909, at 10am, a "grand procession" (parade of officers), escorted by OU's band, marched from the Lodge building to campus and performed the cornerstone ceremony for "University Hall" while the university orchestra played.
Freemasonry and the University of Oklahoma
Norman Lodge No. 38 has always had close ties with OU. Two of the original four faculty members at OU were Masons and two of the first three Presidents of the University were Freemasons. (Brother David R. Boyd counts as one in both categories.) Joseph Bentonelli, a famous opera singer and voice teacher at OU received his Master Mason degree in Norman Lodge on November 22nd, 1920. Willard E. Edwards, the inventor of the perpetual calendar was a member of Norman Lodge, affiliating in 1929, when he attended the University of Oklahoma. Besides the great men that were Masons, OU also has several important physical landmarks throughout the campus. Masonic cornerstones appear on many of OU’s buildings and were installed with much fanfare. For example, on November 3, 1909, at 10am, a "grand procession" (parade of officers), escorted by OU's band, marched from the Lodge building to campus and performed the cornerstone ceremony for "University Hall" while the university orchestra played.
In 1921, a $300,000 donation from the Masonic Charity Foundation of Oklahoma built "Albert Pike Hall" a men's dormitory designed to house college students who had participated in DeMolay International, a Masonic organization dedicated to teaching young men to be leaders and better people. This building was the "first of its kind;" (according to the October 12, 1920 Norman Transcript article) a Masonic dormitory built on a state university. In 1947, the University of Oklahoma purchased "Albert Pike Hall" and renamed it "Whitehand Hall." It became housing for veterans from the war and was colloquially known as "the Oklahoma Hotel." Masonic signs and symbols can still be seen on the building today.
The Building of Norman Masonic Lodge
Norman Lodge originally met at 117 South Peters Ave., an address that no longer exists. The building (pictured, at left) was located at Peters and Comanche on the west side of what is now the Norman Transcript property. The Lodge room was located on the second floor. The cornerstone (dated 1916) from this building was moved to our new location and installed just outside the entrance to our Lodge where it currently stands today. The contents (a cornerstone is filled with symbolic materials during the installation ceremony), including a roster of members from 1916, have been carefully preserved. Norman Masonic Lodge currently meets at the second permanent Masonic temple erected in our city, located at 1700 North Porter. John W. Preble, Grand Master of Ancient Free & Accepted Masons in Oklahoma, was instrumental in the construction of this building in the early 1970s. The building he originally proposed was a three-story building (architect's rendering shown below) with over 23,000 square feet, two lodge rooms and vast space for leasing to public businesses. On October 7, 1963, the Lodge meet to discuss the plans and concerns for such a massive structure.
Ultimately, a scaled-down, yet still imposing structure was agreed upon. The current building is 11,953 square feet on 7.5 acres and includes a 2800 square foot lodge room. The dining area can seat 300 people, we have a men's and women's lounge, a beautiful well-stocked library and our various orders have offices and store rooms. The need to accommodate additional Masonic organizations started early at Norman Lodge. On March 12, 1898, Lion Chapter # 24 Royal Arch Masons received a charter and met at Norman Masonic Lodge. In 1914, charters were issued for Norman Council No. 27 and Norman Commandery No. 38.
Today, the Norman Lodge building also serves as a home to DeMolay International, Job’s Daughters International, the International Order of Rainbow for Girls, and the Order of the Eastern Star, Lodge Veritas No. 556 AF & AM of Oklahoma, Veritas Chapter No. 103, Norman Council No. 27, Norman Commandery No. 38, and King Solomon lodge No 57. It is clear that Norman Lodge and Freemasonry has been a prominent and supportive fixture in our city for more than one-hundred years. The men of Norman Lodge have always been dedicated, bright and leaders in their fields. While no man knows what tomorrow may bring, Norman Lodge will always be there with open doors and a helping hand.