A Brief History of
Hesperia Lodge No. 411
Ancient Free & Accepted Masons

This material is extracted from a pamphlet published in 1992 by Hesperia Lodge No 411, and contained in the Archives of the Lodge.

The preliminary meeting, which led to the formation of Hesperia Lodge, was held in the hall of Cleveland Lodge No. 211, AF&AM., then located on West Randolph Street in Chicago, Illinois, on the 15th day of May in 1864. The meeting was presided over by Brother N Huntley and Brother AM Bennett as Secretary. On motion at this meeting the name Tuscan was decided upon as the name of the new lodge, unless a majority of the Brethren should thereafter decide otherwise. On motion, Brother NW Huntley was appointed as the first Worshipful Master, Brother AM Bennett as the first Senior Warden, and Brother Henry Sweet as the first Junior Warden. The next matter of record found was that the first meeting of Hesperia Lodge 411, under dispensation, was held on Wednesday evening, July 13, 1864. No record has ever been found of any intervening meeting being held, or action taken, leading to the changing of the name of the new lodge from Tuscan, as originally proposed, to that of Hesperia Lodge.

The first petitioner to Hesperia Lodge for degrees and membership was Mr EC Hubhard, 21 years of age, by occupation a clerk. On August 10, 1864, at the fifth regular meeting of Hesperia Lodge, UD, Mr EC Hubhard, the first petitioner, was elected and the Entered Apprentice degree conferred upon him. From these early records of the lodge we find that the manner in which candidates progressed through the several degrees was different than that experienced by any of the present membership. It no doubt was in conformity with the Grand Lodge requirements of those days.

It appears that application for advancement to the next degree was required and on each degree a ballot was taken of which the results determined the progress of the candidate. At a meeting held on August 24, 1864, Brother Hubhard, an Entered Apprentice, having complied with the requirements of that time, was passed to the degree of Fellow Craft, and at a regular meeting held on August 31, 1864, the same Brother, in like form, was raised to the degree of Master Mason. To him, Brother EC Hubbard had the honor of being the first to be initiated, passed and raised, and was able to sign the by-laws of Hesperia Lodge by such right. On October 5, 1864, Hesperia Lodge received its Charter, and on October 19, 1864, Hesperia Lodge, No. 411, A.F. & A.M., was regularly constituted by the Most Worshipful Master of the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of Illinois.

During the early years of Hesperia Lodge the first Masonic Temple in Chicago was erected at the southwest corner of Randolph and Halsted Streets. Hesperia became a stockholder in this new home, and membership began to grow. The lodge moved four times from 1895 to 1970. In 1970, the Lodge moved from the Logan Square Masonic Temple to the Jefferson Masonic Temple, on Gale Street, where we currently hold our regular meetings.

In 1922 the Lodge attained its greatest membership of approximately 900 members. In 1939, on the 75th Anniversary of Hesperia 411, the commemorative book stated, “The Radio Automobile – Movies and other forms of amusement, together with changed economic conditions, appear to have lessened interest in FreeMasonry.”

The advent of men returning from World War II saw a resurgence in membership not only of Hesperia, but of Masonry in general. In 1959 Reliance Lodge Number 1164 was consolidated with Hesperia Lodge, resulting in another influx of membership. In 1964, on the One Hundredth Anniversary, the commemorative book stated:

“As was the case after World War II, we found the young men and our membership migrating to the suburban areas, with the result that today, most of our members, especially the younger ones, have moved out to the suburbs. The majority of our petitions coming in are from that area, and is in direct competition with the suburban Lodges.”

Today we find that trend reversed. Reflecting the general resurgence in urban life, Hesperia’s membership looks to the city. Of the 107 members of Hesperia Lodge, approximately 35 percent reside in Chicago, 37 percent reside in the suburbs and 28 per cent reside out-of-state. Indeed nine of the last ten new members reside in the city.

[Editor’s Note: As of the date this article was posted to the website, December 14, 1999, Hesperia’s membership approaches 150.]

Since the 1940’s, Hesperia Lodge has employed a cook, and is well known for the delicious meals served before each meeting. The friendship and socialization of these dinners has continued to be on of the Lodge’s most important assets. Since 1946, Hesperia has also been noted for its annual picnic.

A highlight of the summer season, the picnic was traditionally held on Brother Paul Hassell’s farm, in what today is now know as Hoffman Estates. Many of our present members fondly recall years when that picnic drew upwards of 500 in attendance. Following the sale of the farm in the early 1970’s, the picnic was not held for several years. Bowing to popular demand, in 1986, Hesperia 411 joined efforts with another lodge to hold a joint picnic at the Glenview Naval Air Station each year thereafter.

Today, our active membership ranges in age from 21 to 95 years. Throughout the years, Hesperia has had many notables within the ranks of our membership. Mayors of Chicago, many Judges, City and County officials, and many men prominent in both civic and business life. We look with pride to these men. At the same time, we recognize that no man is any more, or any less, important than his Brother, and salute each of the Brethren who have contributed to Hesperia’s long and exalted past. Honoring that past, in 1989, Hesperia created an official position of Historian within the lodge.

In the age of computers, we have achieved instant communication with a world-wide audience. With a flick of the switch, cable television provides us with scores of programming choices. Video recorders, digital compact disks and other electronic marvels compete for our time. Still, it is through the simple fellowship of Masonry that we find our greatest fulfillment, and to Masonry we now bring those new technological advances. Hesperia Lodge, through the efforts of its members, is now computerized, and in the process of establishing the first Masonic Bulletin Board in the country.

We can only guess what life will be like in the future. Given technological advances, we may soon be exploring the far reaches of our solar system. That Masonry will be there, at that time, we have no doubt. As Masons, we were already in space when, on July 20, 1969, Colonel Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, Jr, an honorable Mason, stepped foot on the Moon.

The commitment to Masonry comes from the heart, and, as Masons are traveling men, they take the spirit of Masonry with them wherever they go. As Hesperia Lodge welcomes our new friends, we do so with a renewed vigor and a heightened awareness of where we have been, and to where we are going. Our Lodge benefits both from the experience of our elders and the vision our younger members. We are confident in the future of Masonry because we are confident in the future of Hesperia. For as proven here, Masonry brings otherwise diverse men to the same temple. and binds them in a brotherhood which is independent of the times in which they find themselves living. It is to this ability that Masonry is commended, and to this ability that its future is cast. We invite, and welcome, you to share that future.

See, also, the Brochure for Hesperia 411’s 150th Anniversary + Lodge Re-Dedication. Side 1 Side 2

You may also be interested in reading A History of the Jefferson Masonic Temple courtesy of King Oscar Lodge No.855