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The focal point: 117-year-old Falls City Masonic Hall still draws a crowd
Frank Schumacher, Worshipful Master of Falls City Masonic Lodge holds one of the lodge’s 1890s-era record books. The lodge has met since 1895 in the Falls City Masonic Hall, still the tallest building in town and a connection with times past.
By Tina Stevens Mix
The following is an excerpt from Tina Steven Mix’s article on the Falls City Masonic Hall, published this month in the annual Snoqualmie Valley Historical Museum magazine.
The Fall City Masonic Hall stands as the tallest building in downtown Fall City. Located on the corner of Southeast 43rd Place and 337th Place, it has been home to the Falls City Lodge No. 66 since it was built in 1895. The hall has hosted thousands of events and involved itself in Valley life for over 100 years.
Among the Masons, the word “Lodge” refers to the group of men, while the “hall” refers to the building.
With the coming of railways, a bridge over the Snoqualmie, and a thriving hop industry in the 1880s, Fall City was soon experiencing a boom. In this climate of growth, seven men petitioned the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Washington for a dispensation to form a lodge in Fall City. The dispensation request was dated December 10, 1889 and in subsequent correspondence between the Freemasons, the name was written as Falls City Lodge and thus it remains today with the added ‘s’.
The brethren began meeting on February 21, 1890 in the hall above Taylor’s store on River Street in Fall City. Because of the difficulty in traveling at night, the group decided to follow the common practice of scheduling meetings near the full moon, allowing for safer travel at night. It became known as a “Moon Lodge,” and remained so, until 1920.
On Sunday, September 2, 1894, a fire destroyed Taylor’s store, including the hall with the property of Falls City Lodge in it.
The Lodge now sought a new home, and when a plan to purchase the Odd Fellows Hall fell through, the process of building a new hall began. This hall, completed in December, 1895, is a two- story, wood-frame building with a rectangular floor plan which occupies two building lots. The interior of the building clearly reflects the original 1895 construction, with fir floors, four-panel doors, beaded tongue-and-groove wainscot and plaster walls.
The hall is oriented according to Masonic ritual and this is most evident in the second floor meeting room. The east wall with its highest pedestal flooring is reserved for the Master of the Lodge. The west wall, with flooring one step lower is reserved for the Senior Warden and the south wall is where the Junior Warden resides. No one sits at the north end of the building, because symbolically, it is a place of darkness.
In 1895, the economy was tough. The “Panic of ‘93” was a depression and its effects were still being felt into 1896. The hop market plummeted as the lodge was preoccupied with its hall building program. The year of the build, membership dropped from 31 to 27 due to nonpayment of dues. Annual dues, established in 1890, were four dollars. The amount was not changed until 1952.
The height of lodge membership occurred in 1927 when membership reached 187. Frank Schumacher, the current Master of the Lodge, says Freemasonry is on the rise. He feels that more people are seeking opportunities to become connected to their community and that the Masonic philosophy, “Making good men, better men,” inspires many.
After 117 years of existence, the most prominent building in town continues to serve its original purpose of housing the Falls City Masonic Lodge. The building communicates the legacy of its founders, their values and the mission of the lodge. If you’re interested in joining, they don’t recruit. All you need to do is ask.
• Learn more about the museum at http://www.snoqualmievalleymuseum.org.