W.B. Timothy R. Steiner, Grand Orator, gave the following remarks on the occasion of the Reconstitution of Unity Lodge #198 and its centennial celebration on August 17, 2013. The photo was taken during the construction of the Lodge Hall around 1914.

See links on the right sidebar under Unity Lodge History for a broad history of Unity Lodge and for brief biographies of a number of Masons of the valley. 

Most Worshipful Grand Master, Grand Lodge Members, Distinguished Guests, Friends, Brethren all. January 21st, 1912, one of the most important days in the history of Unity Lodge #198. This was the day that 10 Brothers gathered at the “Milwaukee Depot” in Northbend to discuss the future of Masonry in the Upper Snoqualmie Valley. They asked the good brothers of Fall City Lodge #66 to vouch for them in the formation of their own lodge in Northbend. This was as the history of the lodge reports, not done because of discontent with Fall City Lodge, but because as they put it “limited and time consuming transportation facilities of the day.” You see in 1912 the State had not yet completed what was to be the modern roadway being constructed through the pass. It was being constructed over paths built by the settlers and Native Americans of the region for horse and foot travel, so individual travel was difficult to say the least. In 1905, the first automobile had driven over Snoqualmie Pass, but the road was far from adequate, and frequently impassable. The road such that it was, underwent an upgrade in 1909 for the Alaska – Yukon Exposition in Seattle, and an automobile race across the pass was used to promote the event.But it wasn’t until 1915 that there was a new 2 lane roadway creating a permanent transportation route that connected Eastern and Western Washington called the Sunset Highway. Later in 1926 this highway was rebuilt on the abandoned Milwaukee Railroad right-of-way. Future improvements were made bringing us to the modern Interstate that we freely move east and west on. All this is just to make the point that when Unity Lodge was a lodge under dispensation in August of 1912 the 8.5 miles that currently stretches between Northbend and Fall City would have taken the Brethren hours by horseback or rail, and today is a simple 15 minute commute.

The Masons of the soon to be Lodge under dispensation presented a petition to Most Worshipful Brother Frank H. McCandless in August of 1912. The name of Unity was selected after some debate. A committee was put together to find a suitable place for the Brethren to meet. The brothers chose a building originally intended for the Eagles club, but never completed. It was decided that the lodge would share the building with the Odd Fellows Lodge, but that soon met complications, and the brethren went forward on their own. Finances were tight, but 12 brothers stepped forward to facilitate the completion of the building. A mortgage was taken out and work progressed on getting the lodge ready to perform the work of Mason’s. Timing was on Unity’s side. Clover Lodge in Tacoma was disposing of their lodge furniture, and for a nominal fee it was able to be procured. It only took 2 days to pack the furnishings and get them shipped to Northbend. Again an example of how much we take for granted today grabbing a U-Haul and a few people after work to accomplish such a task. At a ceremony June 11th, 1913, Most Worshipful Brother McCandless and the Brethren in attendance approved the Charter of Unity Lodge, and gave it the number 198. The 23 Charter members stood before the Grand Master and dedicated themselves to building a great tradition of Masonry in Northbend. They attested to the assembled members of Grand Lodge and to the brethren in attendance that they had confidence in the leadership of the Officers. Their faith was well founded.


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