Mountain View Masonic Lodge No. 194, F&AM of California

MOUNTAIN VIEW LODGE No. 194
Free and Accepted Masons of California
History

From
100 Years of California Masonry
Home  1938 History&Roster

At the time it organized, Mountain View Lodge No. 94 was the northern-most Lodge in Santa Clara County and the only one between the town of Santa Clara and Redwood City. This Lodge, made up chiefly of farmers, was conceived when 7 brothers held a preliminary meeting in the hall over the Presbyterian Church, October 8, 1868. They were Wesley Gallimore, Harvey N. Bishop, Samuel Weilheimer, William G. Jones, Amherst J. Hoyt, William Eppeheimer, and George W. Smith -- all from Santa Clara Lodge No. 34.

According to Ingram, the record does not indicate whether any other brethren whose names were not entered on the list were present, or whether they held any more preliminary meetings. But, after choosing the name Mountain View for their Lodge, they elected Smith as Master, George W. Davis (not previously mentioned), Senior Warden; and Eppeheimer, Junior Warden. Their petition for a dispensation was duly prepared and sent to Grand Master Marsh, who granted it December 26. Three days later, the first meeting was held under it.

Mountain View's charter was granted October 14, 1869. On November 6, it was constituted by William A. January, H. J. Haskell, and John B. Hewson, of San Jose Lodge No. 10, acting for the Grand Lodge. Its first meeting place was in the Presbyterian Church hall, where it held its preliminary meeting. And it appears to have met here for some years thereafter for, from time to time, the minutes mention the church in connection with the Lodge 's activities. An entry of November 7, 1870, shows the Lodge "prepared to pay their portion of county tax due on the Mountain View Church and Lodge property, before becoming delinquent." This is interesting in that it not only shows where the Lodge was meeting but also that the church property - presumably the actual place of worship - was taxable at that time. On February 28, 1874, "Bro. G. W. Smith then stated to the Lodge that on the evening of our installation, some of our members broke down the church gate, and there was a bill of five dollars against some of us." The Lodge voted to pay the bill.

It was not till the spring of 1887 that Ingram first noted anything regarding a change of meeting place. On May 3 "a lengthy discussion was entered into in regard to building a hall nearer town, but no definite conclusion arrived at." Since then, of course, the Lodge has acquired far more commodious quarters, and now meets in the Masonic Hall at the corner of Church and Franklin streets.

Until after 1910, there is nothing in Mountain View's records to indicate, anything approaching spectacular growth. In its first returns, filed in 1869, it had 24 Master Masons on the roll. In 1880 it had only 16. The minutes of February 24 noted "there was a decided dearth of work, so the brethren occupied the time in discussing the necessity of a revival in the work and in the interest that should be taken." Though things had picked up a bit by 1890, the returns showed a gain of only nine members, less than one for every year of the decade. By 1900, however, the enrollment had climbed to 54, and from there briskly up to 208 by 1930. During the hard times of the succeeding decade, the Lodge took a "jolt" that might have been worse but for the fact that the town had commenced to grow on a large scale with the arrival of the United States Naval Air Base of Moffett Field and numerous industries and business enterprises. Though the membership had dropped as low as 175 in 1940, it quickly bounced back, surpassing any previous high figure to reach its present 310 [in ?].

Compared with those of many other Lodges, Mountain View's minutes are singularly free of relief items. The Lodge, on the whole, appears to have been composed chiefly of solid, property owning men who seldom had occasion to ask for assistance. Perhaps the most noteworthy relief case in its history was one that gave it the rare distinction of refunding the fee in order to help a candidate who had been overtaken by misfortune. On October 28, 1884, "The Worshipful Master stated to the Lodge that Bro. Crow, Entered Apprentice Mason of this Lodge was sick and almost destitute, whereupon Bro. McCleary moved that the Lodge refund $35 of initiation fee, as he [sic] would not probably recover."

In 1893, "when it had only 35 members and was still looking back somewhat apprehensively upon its "dearth of work," Mountain View most generously donated $100 toward building the Home at Decoto.

In addition to these, there was another indication of the Mountain View brethren's awareness of their obligations to one another and the dependents of deceased members. In 1897, an unfortunate altercation occurred between the widow of a deceased brother and a local doctor who had just received his Entered Apprentice degree. It was purely a business difficulty - a case properly within the jurisdiction of a civil court. Yet, after investigation of the matter, the Lodge voted to sustain an objection to the doctor's advancement to any higher degree. He remained on the roll as an Entered Apprentice till he was dropped in 1905 or '06.

Only three times in its eighty-one years has Mountain View Lodge had the pleasure of recommending dispensation for neighboring Lodges, and two of those were for the same Lodge - Palo Alto No. 346 in 1901. The other was for Sunnyvale No. 511, twenty years later. When the Palo Alto brethren were organizing their Lodge, they encountered a little jurisdictional problem that necessitated a second recommendation, which will be explained in the story of that Lodge.

Though the Lodge records provide no biographical material on its early day members, one or two of the old-time histories afford at least a nodding acquaintance with them.

Wesley Gallimore, a signer of the petition for dispensation was a Cumberland Presbyterian Minister, and it was undoubtedly in his church that the Lodge first met. He was also instructor of the community's first school.

Samuel Weilheimer, first Treasurer, was a storekeeper who opened his first establishment in old Mountain View in 1853, and later, after the coming of the railroad, operated a hotel in new Mountain View. He died in 1903.

Henry McCleary, whose name appeared in the first returns, was a Michigan farmer who came to California in '63 and settled on a ranch near Mayfield, now a part of Palo Alto. A little later, he bought 103 acres closer to Mountain View. He was one of the old stand-bys of the Lodge, serving as Master ten terms between 1879 and 1893, to say nothing of six terms as Treasurer and filling every other office whenever needed over the general spread of years. The returns in the Grand Lodge Proceedings list him as withdrawn in 1903.

Much more is known of George Warren LaPierre, born in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, in 1829. He grew up in Connecticut where he learned the wagon maker's trade. In January, '51, he started for California by sea on the Northern Light. En route he changed ships, deciding to finish the voyage on the Independence, which was wrecked off Santa Margarita Island with a loss of hundreds of lives. LaPierre was one of those lucky enough to reach the island, from which he made his way by two more vessels to San Francisco, arriving in May.

LaPierre visited the Santa Clara Valley for the first time a month or two later, but did not stay. He came back the following year, however, and opened a wagon shop in Mountain View. But, it was still hard for him to settle down. He wandered over to the Kern River country a couple of years later, then came back to Mayfield, and finally to Mountain View again, where he engaged in several business enterprises till the end of his eventful life.

LaPierre's name appeared in Mountain View Lodge's first returns in '69, hut there is nothing to indicate where he was made a Mason. It is enough to know that he was a good one till the end of his days.

William Freeman Farrington Foss, a native of Biddeford, Maine, was eight years old when he came to California with his parents in 1857. While living at various points on the Mother Lode, he somehow managed to acquire a common schooling and later came down to San Francisco for five months of study in the State Normal School. In 1872 and '73, he taught school in Yuba and Butte counties, then again came to the Bay area for some more higher learning. This time he attended the San Jose State Normal School (now State College), from which he graduated in '74, The following year, after another brief session of teaching on the Mother Lode, he took over the principalship of the Mountain View Public School, combining the position with that of notary public and insurance agent.

Foss' name first appeared in Mountain View Lodge's returns as an Entered Apprentice in 1878. He was twice master of the Lodge, in '84 and '88, and served in all other offices whenever necessary.

As noticed elsewhere, Mountain View was considerate of an Entered Apprentice who was stricken ill and could not continue with his work. But, he was not the only one. Contemporaneously with his case, it was carrying another, William A. Babcock, the husband of Georgia Donner of the Donner Party.

Babcock took his Entered Apprentice degree in 1880 and, from that time till his death in 1897, he was carried on the roll as an Entered Apprentice. Why he never went any further is one of the unanswered questions of California Masonic history.

 

From
1938 History and Roster

of
Mountain View Lodge No. 194
Free and Accepted Masons
Mountain View, California

Photos: (under construction)

Masonic Temple

The Old Church

George W. Smith

East End of Lodge Room

The Auditorium Stage

The Club Room

The Banquet Room

History of The Masonic Temple

About 1930 the American Legion raised funds and in 1931 laid the corner stone of a building designed for lodge purposes and early in 1932 it was dedicated as the American Legion Memorial Hall in Mountain View.

Two or three year's later, through a mortgage foreclosure, title passed to the Merner Lumber company of Palo Alto and the Cowell Lime and Cement company of Davenport, California.

In the fall of 1936 the Masonic Lodge purchased the property and rededicated it as the Masonic Temple.

It stands on the corner of Church and Franklin Streets, less than two blocks from the site of the old church in which the Lodge was organized in 1868.

 

History of Mountain View Lodge (1938)

On October 8th, 1863 eleven members of Santa Clara lodge No. 34, F. & A. M. who lived in the vicinity of Mountain View and Sunnyvale, held a meeting in the attic of the old Presbyterian Church and signed a petition to the Grand Lodge for a Dispensation to organize a lodge in Mountain View. They also appointed a committee to collect the amounts pledged by the petitioners to cover the cost of furniture, jewels, etc., necessary to start a lodge.

Those who signed the petition were: W. Gallimore, W. G. Jones, Wm. Oppenheimer, Samuel Weilheimer, A. J. Hoyt, Wm. Bullard, Christian Meyer, W. N. Bishop, A. F. Beardsley, G. W. Davis, G. W. Smith. (The Jewels, Ashlers, and Pillars they bought are still in use in this lodge [in 1938 and may still be]).

The Church stood near the rear of where Mancini's used car building now [1938] stands near Church Street. It was built in 1857 and was claimed to be the first Protestant Church in the Santa Clara Valley. It was dedicated in the summer of 1861, and just fifty years later one Sunday morning while Sunday School was in session, fire was discovered in the belfry and it burned to the ground.

The Dispensation was granted, furniture was purchased, and on December 29th, 1868, the Lodge was organized, officers installed, and bylaws which had been drawn up were adopted.

Three petitions for degrees were received at this meeting and were voted on at the stated meeting January 30th, 1869.

Stated meetings were held on the Tuesday after the full moon in each month. This was changed to the first Tuesday in each month in 1917.

There were nine Stated meetings held U. D., and in the eight months between January 30th and September 29th, 1869, there were twenty-three Called meetings.

There were eighteen petitions received of whom fourteen were elected.

During those eight months there were fourteen candidates initiated; twelve passed, and twelve raised.

No meetings were held after September 29th, until November 6th, when the Lodge was regularly instituted and received its Charter and its number,

The first Secretary resigned in April 1869, and George Gleason, whose petition was approved at that meeting, received his degrees and was appointed Secretary at the Stated meeting in May.

Five Called meetings were held between the Stated meetings on April 20th and May 26th, and both George Gleason and Wm. Dale received their degrees between these dates.