About M. L. McClelland #357
Chartered May 29, 1867
Founding of M. L. McClelland Lodge No. 357
On May 29, 1866, on the written petition of ten Masons, Harvey G. Hazelrigg, Grand Master of the Most Ancient and Honorable Society of Free and Accepted Ancient York Masons in the State of Indiana, granted a dispensation to Worshipful Master Walter DeCoursey, Senior Warden William Cogswell and Junior Warden Pliney Gordon to form a lodge in the town of Wheeler, Indiana.
The lodge took the name of M. L. McClelland, the past and future Worshipful Master of Porter Lodge 137. The founding members of our lodge came in great part from that lodge and Lake Lodge 157 in Crown Point. The lodge set to work on July 5, 1866, at a hall in Wheeler. During the ensuing year, the lodge associated, entered, passed and raised thirty-three additional brethren and on May 29, 1867, were granted a full charter.
The first officers of the chartered lodge were Worshipful Master Walter DeCoursey, Senior Warden Daniel S. Curtis and Junior Warden Pliney Gordon.
On May 18, 1867, the lodge decided to move its meetings, then held on the first and third Saturdays evenings of every month, to Hobart. This was found appropriate because most of the lodge members by then lived in Hobart and the travel by carriage and especially by handcar on the railroad line was deemed “very dangerous on dark nights.”
The lodge charter, the original of which still hangs in the lodge room, was presented to the lodge in Hobart on June 6, 1867.
The ten charter members of the lodge were Walter DeCoursey, William Cogswell, Pliney P. Gordon, William H. Shedd, Charles S. Defrance, George W. Bond, John Curtis, Daniel S. Curtis, Sidney S. Reed and John Wood.
The Masonic Temple of M. L. McClelland Lodge
The land on which the Masonic Temple now stands was first privately owned by Ben-Ack, a chief of the Potawatomi. The land was conveyed on June 16, 1836, by President Andrew Jackson as part of a larger tract selected for Ben-Ack under the terms of the 1832 Treaty of Tippecanoe. This larger 640-acre tract was subsequently acquired by George Earle and was used by him to lay out the town of Hobart. In 1845, the first schoolhouse in Hobart was built on the site and is commemorated by a historic marker in front of the lodge.
The lodge trustees acquired the land in 1916 and officers of the Grand Lodge of Indiana laid the cornerstone for the Masonic Temple on July 11, 1925. Until that time, after a move from a hall in Wheeler in 1867, the lodge held its meetings in rented second floor rooms in various buildings in downtown Hobart. Meetings were held on Saturday evenings until 1916 when the meeting nights were changed to Thursday. It is lodge tradition that the officer rods hanging in the Tyler’s room were made from a tree that grew outside the old schoolhouse, although this cannot be confirmed but makes a nice story.
The Masonic Temple is a designated building with notable rating in the Hobart Historical District. It is identified in some literature as a Colonial Revival structure but is more correctly described as having a Neo-Classical Revival/Craftsman architectural style.
The officer chairs and wardens’ pillars were designed as part of the original building and, reupholstered, continue in use to this day. When the time came to replace the original windows of the Temple after the Second World War, glass brick was used for insulation and security purposes.
The interior of the building has been altered over the years to expand the kitchen, eliminate a gentlemen’s smoking lounge, convert a ticket office into an archive room, and to build a secretary’s office where a stage once stood.
Many social events of all kinds, including community concerts and dances, have taken place over the years in the Great Hall. The latest additions to the lodge have included redecoration of the Great Hall and, most especially, the addition of a marble mosaic floor to the lodge room floor in preparation for our 150th anniversary rededication.
The Masonic Temple has been a place for both Masons and the greater community to gather over the years and will continue to be so for centuries to come.
History: Our Lodge Building
The Grand Lodge, Free and Accepted Masons of the State of Indiana, granted a dispensation to M. L. McClelland Lodge, U. D, on May 29, 1887 at Wheeler, Indiana. The charter was granted by the Grand Lodge on May 29, 1867 and presented to the Lodge at the Stated Meeting of June 6, 1867 at Hobart, Indiana.
At the Stated Meeting of June 6, 1867, the Lodge passed a motion to change the location from Wheeler to Hobart since the majority of the members lived in or near the town of Hobart and because the only transportation for Hobart members to get to Wheeler was by handcar on the railroad and by carriage, "being very dangerous on dark nights".
The Lodge occupied rented places for meetings until the present Temple was constructed and occupied in 1925 at 219 Center Street.
The Temple boasts distinctive Colonial Revival—style architecture. The Colonial Revival-style was an adaptation and combination of Georgian and Colonial styles in the USA toward the end of the 19th and into the 20th centuries.
ORDER OF EASTERN STAR, HOBART CHAPTER 314
The Master Builder of the Order of the Eastern Star was Dr. Rob Morris, Grand Master of Masons in Kentucky from 1858 to 1859, and a close personal friend of M. L. McClelland. Dr. Morris’ work with Robert Macoy of New York led to the establishment of the Supreme Grand Chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star in 1866.
The Order is led by the wives, daughters, mothers, widows and sisters of Master Masons, and includes Master Masons in its membership.
In 1905, Hobart Chapter 314 was chartered by Grand Worthy Patron William Conrad and was initiated by Valparaiso Chapter 164, its mother chapter.
For the last 112 years, Hobart Chapter 314 has worked hand in hand with M. L. McClelland Lodge 357 in promulgating the tenets of brotherly love, relief, and truth among the brothers and their families.
Following the ideals of the O.E.S., a close relationship has been built among the members of our Masonic brothers and sisters.
We honor that partnership and thank them for being an important part of our lodge and for their continued support.