The first lodge in Batavia was chartered in October of 1849. The report to the Grand Lodge in 1850 stated that Lodge 73 met Wednesday evenings preceding and succeeding the full moon. This allowed members to see their way home after the meeting. The Lodge met in the VanNortwick block on the island in the middle of downtown Batavia. Lodge 73 surrendered its charter in October 1859.
Batavia Lodge 404 was the successor to this lodge chartered during the Civil War in 1864. Atlanta was already won, which really contributed to the reelection of Abraham Lincoln in November.
On October 2nd, the day the lodge was chartered; Confederate troops cut the Western and Atlantic Railroad – an important part of Sherman’s lines of communication and supplies from Atlanta to Chattanooga. General Sherman would soon start the march to the sea and General Hood would go to Tennessee. His army was destroyed in Nashville in December, 1864.
Let’s look at the career choices of charter members of this lodge. The charter members included:
1 – teacher, druggist, paper maker, lawyer, civil engineer
2 – farmer, contractor, merchant, physician
6 – mechanics – remember we were the windmill manufacturing capitol
2 – can’t read the person’s writing
The youngest charter members (2) were 24, the oldest charter members (2) were 53.
In 1866 it was very expensive to become a member of Batavia Lodge. In today’s dollars the petition fee was $200.00. The Entered Apprentice fee was $400.00. The Fellowcraft fee was $200.00 and the Master Mason fee was $200.00. The total in today’s dollars was $1,000.00. That is the equivalent of the $25.00 of 1866.
During its history, there have been 104 men elected to the East in 150 years. Brother C.A. Palmer was the only Master of the lodge elected 10 times between 1880 and 1894. He was a shoemaker by trade in Batavia.
Our original charter book has 985 signatures in it today. The book has the original by-laws of the lodge and the first amendment.
The oldest mason signing the by-laws in this lodge was on February 28, 2004. John S. Demos was 73 years young.
The most masons raised in this lodge was at the February 3rd 1996 Grand Masters Festival. 12 men became Master Mason that day. Previous to that day the lodge required that these men complete their Entered Apprentice and their Fellowcraft in Batavia Lodge and successfully pass their catechism on each of those degrees. They only completed the Master Mason degree at the Festival.
In 1864, Batavia Lodge 404 met on the first and third Saturdays in the Masonic Hall on the southwest corner of Jefferson and Wilson. They shared the hall with their rental group, the Batavia Knights of Pythias which had also formed a lodge here.
In the 1870's the lodge moved to the Kinne Building. In 1895, the lodge moved next door to the Mair Building. In 1908, the lodge moved to the third floor of the Thomle Block building. In 1961, the lodge moved again to the second floor of the Geiss Block Building. All of these moves were in downtown Batavia.
On October 8, 1973, Batavia Lodge moved to its current Lodge building at 28 VanNortwick in Batavia, Illinois outside of the downtown business district for the first time since the lodge was formed in 1864. The move gave them a single story building which was more compatible to the older members of the lodge.
Since 1864, Batavia Lodge 985 men have signed the by-laws and become master masons members of this lodge. MORI reports, in 2014, that we currently have 140 members with 49 life members of this lodge and 14 – 50 year members.
This is the history of Batavia Lodge 404, Batavia, Illinois on October 8, 2014.