Steilacoom Lodge, while having a rich heritage, is an active and vibrant Masonic Lodge in the Tacoma area. Members of Steilacoom Lodge pride themselves on their Masonic work, and it is reflected their reputation in the Masonic community. Below is information about Steilacoom Lodge’s history, and its historic cemetery.
The history and information for this page is taken from “A History of Steilacoom Lodge – 1854-1951” written by Br. Christian Spreen. We would encourage interested parties to seek out this very informative and well researched booklet.
Steilacoom Lodge is one of the oldest lodges in the state of Washington. On June 13th of 1854, a charter was granted to Steilacoom Lodge under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Oregon as Steilacoom No.7, later revised to Steilacoom No.8. In 1858, the four lodges situated north of the Columbia River, Olympia No.5, Steilacoom No.8, Grand Mound No.21, and Washington No.22 (Vancouver), decided to form a Grand Lodge of their own. The lodges decided that their numbers should correspond with the dates that their charters were originally granted so Olympia became Olympia No.1, Steilacoom No.2, Grand Mound No.3, and Washington No.4. Each year, the founding lodges (with the exception of Grand Mound No.3, which surrendered its charter in 1868) get together each year to commemorate the founding of the Grand Lodge.
Steilacoom was represented at the first organizational meeting of Grand Lodge by WM James Bachelder, SW Samuel McCaw, and SW-Elect William Wood. RWB Bachelder was elected Grand Treasurer in 1858.
For brief but very interesting biographical sketches of some of our founding members, please see our Founders page.
Steilacoom Lodge originally met in a hall at the corner of Balch and Starling streets in Steilacoom. For a brief time, the lodge was held in a building constructed at the corner of Wilkes and Commercial streets, but due to financial difficulties, the lodge moved back into the original hall at Balch and Starling. However, due to a fire in 1868 (supposedly caused by a cigar left smoldering in the lodge room), the lodge moved into a building located on the corner of Wilkes and Commercial streets in Steilacoom until 1872 when they moved to a building across the street – the same building that they had temporarily occupied in the early 1860’s. The fire was a devastating occurrence for the Lodge – we lost our records, regalia, and our original charter in addition to the building itself. A new charter was issued shortly thereafter by MW James Biles, and a set of tin jewels was made by Br. George Gallagher in 1868. The tin jewels are in good condition and are proudly on display in the Lodge today.
In 1883, the brethren of the Lodge decided to purchase land for a Masonic Cemetery. Many of the town’s founding fathers were laid to rest here. For more information on our cemetery, please visit our Cemetery page.
Steilacoom Lodge moved to a new location on Lafayette Street in 1910 where they remained until 1991. In 1991, the Lodge divested itself of the old property on Lafayette Street and rented space from other lodges until 2001, when Clover Lodge No.91 and Steilacoom Lodge No.2 decided to merge. Since that time, Steilacoom Lodge has been meeting at the South Tacoma Masonic Hall located at 5405 S. Puget Sound Avenue, in Tacoma.
We are also one of only two “Moon Lodges” in the Washington jurisdiction – the other being Mt. Moriah Lodge No.11 in Shelton. This means that we have our regular stated meetings on the Friday on or before the full moon, and, per our by-laws we also meet on June 24th and December 27th.
Steilacoom Lodge has maintained a cemetery on the outskirts of the town of Steilacoom since 1883. The cemetery can be found at the intersection of Farwest Drive and Masonic Road in what is now the town of Lakewood. The 11 acre plot of land for the cemetery was obtained from the Orr family, who are interred at the western edge of the property.
Several of the town’s most notable citizens are buried here, including the Bair family, the Light family, Thomas Chambers, Royal Gove, the Saltar family, and several others. The Masonic graves are located in the northern half of the cemetery, while the southern half contains a non-Masonic section. The upkeep of the cemetery is provided by the members of Steilacoom Lodges.
The cemetery is kept secured by fence and lock in order to keep vandals out and preserve the dignity and character of the cemetery. It is a solemn, peaceful, and beautiful place.
Arrangements can be made to visit the cemetery by emailing the Master or Secretary of Steilacoom Lodge.
More information on the cemetery and the internment there can be found on Find-A-Grave.