Information compiled by:
Brother Clayton Rawn, Past Secretary
Hickory Masonic Lodge No. 343 was organized on May 30, 1874 and operated under dispensation given by The Grand Lodge of North Carolina. The first meeting held under dispensation took place on June 02, 1874. Applications for membership were already coming in and Committees of Investigation were being appointed.
On December 08. 1874 the Lodge received its charter and the first meeting was held on December 22,1874. The Lodge was dedicated and officers were installed for the ensuing year. The first candidate to be installed after the charter was granted was Mr. T.E. Field. According to Lodge minutes from that meeting, visitors from Newton, Morganton and Buffalo Lodge No.172 were present. The Grand Lodge sent Grand Lecturer, Brother W.P Williams to supervise the activities.
Our first Lodge Master was Rev. Bro. J.C.Hartzell, Pastor of Hickory’s First Methodist Church. The other officers elected were W.P.Reinhardt, S.W.; H.S.Suttlemeyer, J.W.; A.W. Marshall, Treas.; Julius Flaum, Sec.; T.E. Field, S.D.; A.C.Link, J.D. and the appointed officers were A.A..Yoder, Tiler; N.M.Seagle and G.C.Lanier, Stewards. All told, there were 18 Charter Members at the first communication..
Lodge minutes indicate that we paid $2.00 monthly rent to Mr. A.L.Shuford for the use of a hall from April to December, 1875. Another record states that we paid$2.00 monthly to Mr. Cline in 1877. We do not have a complete set of rent receipts for that period of 1874 to 1881 nor do we know where in Hickory the buildings were located.
Our first known lodge building was located on the W.P. Reinhardt home property, next to the railroad tracks. History suggests that Bro. Reinhardt built the small building for the use of the Hickory Masons. If that is true, it is fair to assume that the Brothers were involved in the construction of the building. Lodge minutes indicate that in December 1881 Bro. Reinhardt was paid 6 months rent in advance. That’s most likely when the Lodge was relocated to that property.
The Reinhardt property was located on what is now known as South Center Street. The Lodge building was located immediately south of the railroad tracks on the East side of the street. Standing at the S.W. corner of the Hickory City Hall and looking South across the railroad tracks, about 50 feet East of South Center St., you will see a cluster of large oak trees. This is the approximate location of the Reinhardt property, lodge building. The location information has been passed down from brother to brother over the years.
The Lodge eventually outgrew the small Reinhardt building and relocated to the second floor of the Settlemeyer Store building along with the Hickory York Rite Bodies. This building known to many in Hickory as the Lutz Drugstore is now called the News Building. The Lodges met at this location until 1912. In that year, a building was purchased on 3rd Street NW. It was located in a block of buildings where the Granite Bank would later be built. Some years later as the Lodges continued to grow the building was traded for the one next door, where more spacious lodge rooms could be built.
In 1973 all of the buildings in the block were purchased by the Hickory Development Commission and razed to make way for the new Granite Bank building, drive through facilities and parking lot. In September of 1973 the Lodges temporarily moved to the third floor of the Hickory High School building which now houses the Hickory Art and Science Center located in the S.A.L.T. Block.
In April of 1973 The Hickory York Rite Bodies initiated a Corporate Plan to build a new building. A suitable location was found in Brookford, NC, property was purchased for $36,000.00, plans drawn and a building built in 1974. The building was named Hickory Masonic Center.
Hickory Lodge has meeting minutes dating back to 1874 and attendance records, miscellaneous statements, bills and correspondence dating to its earliest days. The lobby has glass display cases containing historical lodge property, some of which dates back to the beginning of Masonry in Hickory. Mounted on the South, West and North walls of the Lodge meeting room is a complete set of 102 framed pictures including every Masters of Hickory Lodge dating from 1874 to present. Bro. Jones W. Shuford holds the distinction of being elected Master of The Lodge five times. Our First Master, Rev Bro.J.C.Hartzell was elected Master four times. Several brothers have been elected Master more then once.
At the present time, Hickory Masonic Center serves three Masonic bodies; The Blue Lodge, York Rite Bodies and Eastern Star. Other Masonic organizations including the White Shrine of Jerusalem, Rainbow for young ladies and DeMolay for young men have used the building in the past.
Sources include Lodge records, The Hickory Daily Record, J.W.Clinard’s book, “Clinard Looks Back” published in 1962 with Masonic detail provided by Brother Dan L. Miller and Brother George E. Bisanar.