THE HISTORY OF LIGHT OF ELMWOOD LODGE #45
The Light of Elmwood Lodge #45, Free and Accepted Masons, a constituent Lodge of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and jurisdictions thereunto belonging, was founded in the year 1917 anno domini (AD), 5917 after light (AL). Through a typographical error in the printing of the original charter, the lodge’s name was “Pride of Elmwood” instead of “Light of Elmwood”. The lodge worked under dispensation (UD) for one year and was granted a charter at the annual session of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania on August 9, 1918, under the grandmastership of Most Worshipful Grand Master Robert J. Williams. The official records of the Grand Lodge state that our lodge was made up of the “best blood of Elmwood”. Elmwood is that section of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania which is located nearest the Philadelphia International Airport. When the charter was issued, the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania appointed James W. Holloway as Worshipful Master; Morton Newman as Senior Warden; and Warner J. Washington as Junior Warden.
Our lodge met from 1918 until 1950 at a hall located at 3010 S. 86th Street. We are indebted to our first Worshipful Master, James W. Holloway, for allowing us to meet there since he owned the building. In 1950, we moved our meeting place to the Elmwood Community Improvement Association (ECIA) Hall located at 87th Street and Erwig Avenue. We rented space there until the non-Prince-Hall masons started meeting there also. We found that we could not, in good conscience, meet at a place where clandestine masons were also meeting. Since we were renting space to meet, we were powerless to have the clandestine masons evicted, so we were forced to move ourselves.
We were led by the Grand Architect of the Universe to seek a “haven of rest” at Saint Cyprian Episcopal Church located at 85th Street and Albertson Avenue. The congregation of the church received us with open arms and their hall became our home until they were forced to relocate themselves due to urban redevelopment. The Reverend Robert E. DuBose, rector of Saint Cyprian Episcopal Church, interceded on our behalf with the Reverend Arthur E. Wooley, rector of Saint Barnabas Haddington Episcopal Church, to include our lodge as part of the merger of their congregations. On April 8, 1964, we moved our meeting place to Saint Barnabas Episcopal Church Guild Hall, located at 64th Street and Haverford Avenue.
This being a masonic body, we place great emphasis on the number three (3). Some of our brothers with masonic insight realized that our lodge had already had three temporary homes, and they felt that it was time that we got a permanent residence. A committee was formed to try to locate a building suitable for our purposes. A building was located at 5026 Spruce Street in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. After obtaining appropriate permission from the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge, an agreement of sale was made on September 29, 1965 for a price of $16,500.00, and we at last had a home that we could truly call our own. Our new home was dedicated on February 13, 1966, under the grandmastership of Most Worshipful Grand Master B. Myoli Owens. The cornerstone was laid on April 28, 1968 after having received the necessary dispensation from Most Worshipful Grand Master Thomas S. Logan. That day was a great one for each and every member of Light of Elmwood Lodge, for again we had reached that truly masonic number, three (3); we purchased the building, had it dedicated, and now the cornerstone had been laid.
There was still a lot more to be accomplished in our new home. First, we had to renovate it to be fully suitable to our unique needs. This work was accomplished with the assistance of most of the brothers in the lodge, but a few did so much, it would not be in poor taste to name them here. Past Master William Campbell donated a large sum of money to be used for the renovation in any manner that the lodge should direct. Past Master Robert Dixon Jr. worked as diligently in the renovation of the building as any brother, even though he was not a mason at that time. Past Master Walter (Reds) Alexander did more physical labor and contributed more time and energy in the renovation of the building than any other brother. Mentioning these three (3) brothers is not meant to minimize the work done by all the other brothers, for it took all of us working together to accomplish what has been done.
On November 17, 1973 we did something we had looked forward to for a long time; we adopted Queen Alpha Chapter #93 Order of Eastern Star of Pennsylvania. They had met in our various homes for quite a time, and it was felt that we should “officially” adopt them as our own. In May 1974, the Light of Elmwood Lodge #45 accomplished something of which we, or any other lodge, can be extremely proud. We burned the mortgage, which made 5026 Spruce Street the property of only the Light of Elmwood Lodge, free from all debt or any other encumbrance.