WARREN - Old Erie Lodge 3, on Pine Avenue in Warren, is rich in history. Many influential men from Trumbull County have been members or are existing members of the Freemasons.
According to a history of the lodge, compiled by Dr. James J. Tyler, Past Master of the Old Erie Lodge 3 and the Historian Grand Lodge of Ohio, among the early settlers of the Western Reserve were several Freemasons who had a desire to have a lodge in Warren.
Late in 1803, the same year Ohio became the 17th state, 22 men from various locations in the Reserve signed a petition requesting a charter to form a lodge. One of those 22 men, Samuel Tylee of Hubbard, was appointed as their representative to carry their petition to New Haven, Conn. On Oct. 19, 1803, without any probationary period, a charter was granted. Tylee was appointed Deputy Grand Master. He was to dedicate the new lodge and install its officers. The Lodge was to be known as Erie Lodge No. 47.
Frank England and Allen Griggs stand in front of the pipe organ at Old Erie Lodge 3 on Pine Avenue in Warren.
The first meeting of Old Erie Lodge No. 47 was held March 16, 1804, according to Tyler. On June 13, 1804, John Stark Edwards and George Tod received the degree of Entered Apprentice. Tod was the first candidate raised to the degree of Master Mason from the Western Reserve on Nov. 14, 1805. John Stark Edwards was raised a Master Mason the following year. He was the first recorder of Trumbull County, first resident lawyer of the Reserve, and the first man elected to Congress from the Reserve. He died before being seated in Congress.
As Tyler's history notes, in 1827, anti-Freemason sentiment started to run rampant, as a result of the disappearance of William Morgan, who had contracted with a newspaper editor in Batavia, N.Y., to write an expose on Freemasonry. Anti-masonry was so intense that it affected political parties, religious organizations and the private lives of many members. During this time, meetings held in Warren became impossible, and the meetings went dark until 1854.
Frank England, a current and longtime member of Old Erie Lodge No.3, said, "There is no written record of any meetings being conducted during this time." He also believes that there may have been secret meetings, but no documentation supports this.
In 1854, after nearly 25 years without Masonry in Warren, it was revived, according to Tyler. Due to the lapse in time, a new charter needed to be granted. Old Erie Lodge Number 3 was reinstated to its original name, number and precedence.
On Jan. 1, 1904, the Lodge purchased its current site on Pine Avenue in Warren from Graham Nash for $20,000. The building had been used as a grain building and wholesale grocery.
Today, Lodge meetings are held bi-monthly at the building. It boasts a membership of approximately 300 men. Most of these men have been members for 50 years or longer. The Lodge provides support to the Special Olympics in Ohio as well as the Warren Family Mission and Relay For Life locally.
Allen Griggs, a long time member of the Lodge, said, "We select good men and make them better."
The Freemasons do not solicit membership. A potential Freemason asks for a petition from a member or may do so by calling the Lodge. A three member investigative committee interviews the potential member and then makes their recommendation to the membership. The prerequisites for becoming a member are to be male, possess good character, be a citizen of the United States, and believe in the existence of a Supreme Being.