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Lodge 45 Celebrates 220th Anniversary

wreathLodge No. 45, F.& A.M., located in Pittsburgh, PA, is the oldest permanent Masonic Lodge west of the Allegheny Mountains. It received its first warrant on December 27, 1785, from the Provincial Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania. After the establishment of the independent Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, Lodge No. 45 received a "new" warrant, dated March 26, 1787, under which it works to this day.

In its early years, the Lodge met in a public house, or inn, on Water Street. The Lodge built its own Masonic Hall at the corner of Wood Street and Fifth Avenue, where it met from 1811 to 1830, when the Lodge moved into the New Masonic Hall at the corner of Smithfield Street and Third Avenue, which was destroyed in the great fire of 1845. For the next six years, the Lodge met at various places, including the private homes of Lodge members, the Odd Fellows Hall, and in rented rooms. The several Lodges of Pittsburgh then moved into the newly erected Masonic Hall on Fifth Avenue, between Smithfield and Wood Streets, in 1851, and continued to meet there until the building was destroyed by fire in 1887. The Lodge then found temporary refuge in the Renshaw Building (Liberty Ave. at Ninth Street) from 1887 to 1889, when the Lodge moved into the new Freemasons Hall, built on the site of the previous Hall. Twenty-six years later, the Craft left downtown and moved into the Masonic Temple in Oakland (Fifth Avenue between Tennyson and Lytton Streets), where Lodge 45 held the first meeting on February 26, 1915. That magnificent structure housed the Lodge until 1996, when it was purchased by the University of Pittsburgh and converted to what is now Alumni Hall. Lodge 45 now meets at the Greater Pittsburgh Masonic Center on Cemetery Lane in Ross Township (North Hills), where it had the honor of holding the first meeting on April 24, 1996.

On Saturday evening, September 17, Lodge 45 celebrated its 220th anniversary with a gala banquet held in the Club House of the Masonic Village at Sewickley, PA. A total of 89 officers, members, ladies, and guests of the Lodge attended the historic occasion. Among the guests were Bro. William Slater II, R.W.G.M. (and a P.M. of Lodge 45), Bro. Thomas K. Sturgeon, R.W.J.G.W., Bro. Raymond T. Dietz, D.D.G.M. of the 55th Masonic District, and other Grand Lodge officers.

After enjoying elegant hors d'oeuvres, including buckwheat blintz with crème fraiche and sevruga caviar, the W.M., Bro. Daniel G. Conway, Jr., gave welcoming remarks, and the toast was given by Bro. Richard G. Johnson, P.M. The guests then enjoyed a multi-course gourmet meal prepared by the Masonic Village's Executive Chef, James Bereksazi. First was the appetizer, a charlotte (pastry puff) stuffed with lobster and crabmeat, followed by a cranberry cashew salad with poppy seed dressing, then a delightful intermezzo of pink grapefruit sherbet in a mini Tulie cone. The entrée featured a seared veal rib chop with veal glaze, accompanied by a wild rice and potato croquette alongside roasted onions and grape tomatoes, and dessert was a chambord tres lychee cake, plus a chocolate medallion in the shape of a Lodge 45 commemorative coin.

The program of the evening included a citation from the Pennsylvania State Legislature, commemorating the anniversary of Lodge 45, read by Bro. Jeffrey H. Heiger, S.W., on behalf of Bro. Thomas L. Stevenson, P.M. and member of the Legislature, who proposed the citation. A brief historical address was given by Bro. Jason B. Grant, P.M. On display throughout the evening was an impressive gallery of artifacts, photographs, documents, textiles, and artwork, prepared and presented by the Lodge 45 Committee on History and Archiving.

The RWGM offered fitting remarks to acknowledge the historic achievements of his mother Lodge, and presented Sharing the Light pins to all in attendance. In return, the WM presented to the R.W.G.M., and then to all present, a commemorative coin and pin, both of which bear the inscription "Lodge 45, Sharing the Light Since 1785."

The W.M. also presented the R.W.G.M. with a beautiful captain's lantern in honor of his Sharing the Light programs.

Throughout the evening, the guests were entertained by pianist and singer David Brewton. Further entertaining moments ensued when several of the Brethren and ladies sang many favorite songs to Mr. Brewton's skilled and engaging accompaniment.

It was indeed a grand occasion that will be the source of fond memories for years to come.

45L-R: Bro. Daniel G. Conway, Jr., W.M., Lodge 45; Bro. Peter Countouris, Food Service Director, Masonic Village at Sewickley, and a member of Lodge 45; Bro. Francis P. Bellante, S.D., Lodge 45, and Bro. William Slater II, P.M., Lodge 45, and R.W.G.M.

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