MILLBROOK LODGE #97
CHARTERED DECEMBER 12, 1827
NORTHERN WAKE COUNTY, NC
MILLBROOK LODGE #97 HISTORY – REVISED AUGUST 15, 2005
Approximately 180 years ago, several Masons in the northern part of Wake County known as Forestville began a movement to charter a new Lodge. A dispensation from the Grand Lodge was granted in 1826 and in 1827 the new Lodge, Wake Forest #97, became a reality, taking its name from Wake County and the Forestville community. At this time, John Quincy Adams was our sixth president. George Washington had died just 28 years before, and Abraham Lincoln was an 18-year old lad operating a ferry across the Ohio River between Kentucky and Indiana. The original 13 Colonies had grown to 24 States, and the new Capitol of Raleigh was 33 years old. The State of Maryland had just issued a charter to the Baltimore and Ohio Company to build the nation’s first Steam Railroad. Electrical power, telephones, automobiles and paved roads were unknown at this time, and homes with indoor plumbing were enjoyed only by the very wealthy. Three years later, the nation’s first steam locomotive was running between Maryland and Ohio, hauling freight and passengers at the breakneck speed of 15 miles per hour.
By 1834, the community around the Lodge Hall had grown considerably, and began calling itself “Wake Forest.” The town and college of this name were chartered at this time. In 1837, when the Lodge was 10 years old, Victoria Regina was crowned Queen of England, and the so-called “Victorian Era” began. When the Lodge was 17 years old, a portrait painter named Samuel Morse invented the telegraph, making instantaneous long-distance communication possible for the first time, and the community of Wake Forest was becoming crowded, so the Lodge moved a few miles south to the Dunnsville community, and then further south to the Neuse Crossroads area, and in 1892 the name was changed to Neuse Lodge #97. When the Lodge was 25, the “Little Corporal”, Napoleon proclaimed himself Emperor of France. In 1861, when the Lodge was 34 years old, the “Late war of Northern Aggression” began between the North and South, and it was brother against brother, father against son and neighbor against neighbor.
Still, there were many stories of heroism and friendship involving Masons on both sides of the battle, including the often repeated tale of the Yankee advance scout warning the members of Hiram Lodge that an invasion was imminent and advising them to immediately adjourn the Lodge and take cover. After the war, the South suffered under reconstruction, oppression and “Carpetbaggers” for several years. During this time, another important advance in communications began when Alexander Graham Bell spoke the famous words, “Mr. Watson, come here! I need you”, after he had carelessly spilled some acid in his lap. The Lodge turned 49 during the year of the U. S. Centennial, which was celebrated in all 38 States, and a year later Thomas Edison invented the second talking machine (the first one had been invented by God, and was called “Woman”). The Lodge was still holding its meetings by the light of whale oil lamps or candles, but Edison did it again, with the invention of the electric light bulb.
When Wake Forest Lodge #97 celebrated its 70th birthday in 1896, there was a terrible new invention tearing up the roads and scaring the horses and chickens out of their wits: The AUTOMOBILE! In 1904, the Lodge moved once again, to the Millbrook Community north of Raleigh, and shared a two-story building with the original Millbrook School. In 1930, the Lodge merged with Mt. Pleasant Lodge #157, which was in danger of losing its charter due to lack of membership, and finally, in 1945, the Lodge changed its name to Millbrook #97. By this time, the old Lodge/schoolhouse had become so dilapidated that the Brothers called it “The leaning tower of Pisa” and plans were made to obtain a new home. Brother Joe Mann donated approximately 1/3 of an acre on old Wake Forest road. At that time, the land had an appraised value of $66.67. With Brother Frank Jones as principal architect, a beautiful two story brick building was erected, at a cost of $11,000.
The Brothers began a concerted effort to pay off the mortgage by bringing chickens to the Lodge, which the “Dean Boys” converted into some of N. C.’s best Bar-B-Q, and the mortgage was retired in just 4 years. This building served the Lodge well until 1981, when a shopping center grew up around the property and land prices skyrocketed. The property was sold to Firestone Tire Co. for $159,500, with our Attorney/Member, Howard Satisky negotiating the deal. This money was invested in jumbo money market funds during the Jimmy Carter presidency, when inflation was in double-digits, and earned about 21% interest. A 4 acre tract was purchased on New Hope Road, and with the able planning and supervision of Charlie Williams and Lonnie Dean the building that we are meeting in tonight was built and dedicated March 15, 1983, totally free and clear of debt and some cash left over.
The earliest reference on file for meeting dates and times was in 1867, when the Lodge met at either 1:30 or 2:30 on the Saturday before the second Sunday of each month. From 1916 until 1929, meetings were held on the Saturday before the first Sunday of each month, which sometimes resulted in the meeting for a given month actually falling on the last day of the previous month. From 1929 until 1949, meetings were held at 8:00 PM on Tuesday nights following the first and third Sunday of the month. Finally, in 1949, a firm date was established and meetings were held on the first and third Tuesdays, at 7:30 PM from October through March, and at 8:00 PM from April through September. Finally in 1972, a year-round meeting time of 7:30 was adopted, with two meetings a month. In 1977, after much discussion and disagreement, the Lodge voted to meet once a month, on the first Tuesday. Attendance and interest lagged, and a couple of years later the Lodge again voted to meet on the first and third Tuesday, where it remains at this time. Shortly after moving into the new building, with its much improved kitchen and dining facilities, a tradition began of having a meal on the third Tuesday at 6:30, followed by a stated communication at 7:30. The monthly meal revealed that we have some really excellent cooks in the Lodge, and the meals continue to be a source of joy and pleasure to all.
In addition, whenever there is a fifth Tuesday in the month, the Lodge meets jointly with Eastern Star Chapter #293 for a meal and educational program, with the Lodge and the Star Sisters alternating meal preparation. Over the years, Millbrook Lodge has enjoyed excellent leadership, attendance and growth, and remains financially stable, making sizeable contributions to the various Masonic charities each year.
LONG LIVE MILLBROOK!!
Compiled by PM G. Max Bloodworth, Master 1977