125th Anniversary

By Charles H. Johnston, Jr. P.M.

During a Special Meeting of Westmoreland Lodge No. 518, on its 125th Anniversary, December 27, Past Master James L. Ernette was formally received and honored in his home lodge as the new R.W. Grand Master of Masons in Pennsylvania. Worshipful Master Gerald A. Sutherland is shown with Grand Master Ernette.

Westmoreland Lodge No. 518, Free and Accepted Masons, has been active in its community for 125 years. With a membership today of 377, the Lodge is thankful for its members and friends -- past and present -- for their achievements and anticipation of the future, most recently providing a fine meeting place. Masonry is growing, and will continue to grow in the Greensburg area.

Westmoreland Lodge No. 518 had its beginnings on November 11, 1872, at a stated meeting of Philanthropy Lodge No. 225, Greensburg, when a petition was presented and unanimously adopted stating that:

"... twelve regular Master Masons, formerly members of the Lodges mentioned against our respective names, and at this time not members of any Lodge, pray for a Warrant of Constitution, empowering us to meet as a regular lodge at Greensburg, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, to be called Westmoreland Lodge No. ________ and there to discharge the duties of masonry in a constitutional manner according to the forms of the order and the rules and regulations of the Grand Lodge."

There were twelve Warrant Members as follows: Jacob Turney, Worshipful Master, late of Lodge No. 225; George F. Huff, Senior Warden, late of Lodge No. 225; William W. Logan, Junior Warden, late of Lodge No. 225; Zachariah P. Bierer, John Latta, Alex Kilgore, C.S. Overholt, Martin S. Overholt, A. S. R. Overholt, Samuel Rock, and Robert G. Ford, all late of Lodge No. 225; and Daniel F. Steck, late of Lodge No. 231.

On December 3, 1872, District Deputy Grand Master Richard Coulter approved the application for a charter for a new lodge and the charter was issued and dated on the following day, registering the new lodge as "Westmoreland Lodge No. 518 to be held in Greensburg, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania."

A Special Communication of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania was held in the Masonic Temple, Greensburg, at 12 o'clock noon, December 27, 1872, for the purpose of opening and constituting a new lodge by the name of Westmoreland Lodge No. 518. Later in the day, by virtue of a dispensation granted by R.W. Grand Master Samuel C. Perkins, District Deputy Grand Master Richard Coulter was directed to open and constitute Westmoreland Lodge No. 518.

A Special Meeting of the Lodge was then held at 7:30 p.m. for the purpose of adopting bylaws, establishing the third Tuesday of each month as the stated meeting night, and designating the Masonic Temple on Main Street, Greensburg, as the place of meeting. Jacob Turney served as Worshipful Master.

Stated meetings were then held on January 21, 1873, and on the prescribed Tuesdays of February and March, during which the officers were appointed and the description of the seal presented. The seal was adopted in June, and the bylaws in July. The bylaws were approved by Grand Lodge on September 3, 1873.

Members Served Masonry Well

Through the years, members of Westmoreland Lodge have served Masonry prominently.

John S. Sell, who was Worshipful Master in 1892, served as Right Worshipful Grand Master in 1920 and 1921. His picture had been displayed in the Lodge Room of the former Greensburg Masonic Temple and since has been donated to the Masonic Homes in Elizabethtown. It now hangs in the Sell Chapel there.

Maurice A. Hammer, W.M. in 1929, served as Right Eminent Grand Commander of the Grand Commandery of Knights Templar of Pennsylvania during 1948 and 1949. His sword is displayed in the Greensburg Masonic Center.

Paul L. Davis, W.M. in 1934, served as Most Puissant Grand Master of the Grand Council of Royal and Select Master Masons of Pennsylvania in 1971.

David L. Kiefer, W.M. in 1978, served as District Deputy Grand Master of the 30th Masonic District from 1981 through 1985.

Now, James L. Ernette, W.M. in 1980, and D.D.G.M. from 1987 through 1991, is serving as R.W. Grand Master.

New Home for Lodge

A new one-story "Greensburg Masonic Center" was constructed on two and one-third acres at the intersection of George's Station and Donohoe Roads in Hempfield Township, one mile east of Greensburg. The Lodge moved into the new Masonic Center in 1991. The building is Y-shaped so that the base of the "Y" serves as an entrance and reception area; the left wing is a social area and kitchen; and the right wing is the lodge room and storage area.

A Cornerstone-Laying Ceremony was held October 26, 1991, by R.W. Grand Master W. Scott Stoner and the Grand Lodge Officers. The presiding officers of Westmoreland Lodge were: Charles H. King, W.M.; Larry W. Kester, S.W.; and Harry L. Ziegler, P.M., J.W.


R. W. Grand Master James L. Ernette is at the entrance to the Greensburg Masonic Center, occupied in 1991.


Past Master John S. Sell (above) was R.W. Grand Master in 1920 and 1921. Grand Master James L. Ernette is the second Westmoreland Lodge member to serve as R.W. Grand Master.


R.W. Grand Master James L. Ernette is pictured as he served as Worshipful Master of Westmoreland Lodge in 1980.


Commemorative Coin Issued

At the same time that James L. Ernette was being installed R.W. Grand Master of Masons in Pennsylvania at noon, December 27, his lodge was 125 years old.

For the occasion, a special coin has been struck to commemorate the 125th Anniversary of the lodge and the installation of Bro. Ernette as the R.W. Grand Master, both occurring on the same day. The obverse of the coin notes the 125th Anniversary, December 27, 1872 - December 27, 1997, encircled by "Westmoreland Lodge No. 518, Greensburg, PA." The reverse is a reproduction of Grand Master James L. Ernette's seal for 1998.