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History of Waverly No. 51



Waverly Lodge No. 51 of Free and Accepted Masons was organized April 25, 1854 under the dispensation of Grand Master Henry L. Palmer, and was officially Chartered June 14, 1854.


This was only nine years after the Grand Lodge of Wisconsin was formed, and 137 years after the Grand Lodge of England was formed in 1717.

Lodges in Wisconsin at this time were charted as Ancient, Free, and Accepted Masons; however this is no longer the case today. As Waverly #51 still maintains its original charter from that period, it is something of an oddity in modern times under the Grand Lodge of Wisconsin, as most other lodges from this time have received new charters as they consolidated operations with other lodges.


The First Attempt

In the early 1840's there were three separate settlements in this area: Lawsburg, Appleton, and Grand Chute.

Records show that J. Kip Anderson and six other masons living in Grand Chute petitioned the Grand Lodge to form a Lodge there; two years before Lawsburg merged with Appleton.


Dispensation was granted on March 15, 1851, and the Grand Chute Lodge was formed with J. Kip Anderson as Worshipful Master. However after a few months the Master and several members took up residence in other communities, and a request was made to the Grand Lodge by Henry S. Baird on behalf of the petitioners to annul the Dispensation and return the $30.00 fee.

But the seed had been planted, and the desire for a lodge in the area grew strong.


Henry L. Palmer
Past Grand Master of Wisconsin
(1852 - 1853)

The Second Attempt

So it was that James Washington Murray, M.D. McGrath, John Kohler, M. Burroughs, Perry H. Smith, Amos Story, and Elias Smith, all Master Masons, made a second and successful attempt to establish Masonry within the Appleton area.

A petition was made again to Grand Master Henry Palmer who appointed James Washington Murray as Worshipful Master, Perry H. Smith as Sr. Warden, and M.D. McGrath as Jr. Warden.

Amos Story
First Mayor of Appleton
(1857 - 1859)

First Communication

The first Communication of the Lodge was under Dispensation, and it was called to order on Tuesday evening April 25, 1854 at 8:00 PM.


Some of the first members of the Lodge were as follows:

  • Amos Story- Appleton's first Mayor

  • Perry H. Smith- First Outagamie County Judge

  • Henry S. Eggleston - First petitioner, and Appleton's first Register of Deeds and Postmaster.

  • Anson Ballard- Appleton first City Attorney

  • Theodore Conkey


Establishing Masonry

In attendance at the following Tuesday, May 2nd meeting were members from Green Bay's Washington Lodge: Henry S. Baird, and J. Kip Anderson then Master of Washington Lodge No. 21.

These men were appointed the principle officers Pro-Tem, and this the 3rd meeting of Waverly Lodge to receive the reports of the first five petitioners. Freemasonry was now firmly established in the settlement of Appleton.


Hart's Hall


Zuelke Building

Finding a Home

The first meeting of Waverly Lodge was in the original Adkins Hall, located over a store building on the north side of College Ave. The building was destroyed by fire, and Adkins Hall was relocated to a building on the southwest corner of College Avenue and Morrison Street.


The Masonic Hall was moved to Hart's Hall (1855-1866), which was located on the southwest corner of College Avenue and Oneida Street.

Eleven years later it was moved again to Crawford Hall, which was above a shoe store on the southeast corner of College Ave. and Appleton Street.

In 1881, the Grand Lodge of Wisconsin and Waverly Lodge placed the cornerstone in a ceremony for the Commercial National Bank building (1882-1924), located on the grounds of the current Zuelke Building.

Completed in 1882, it was considered the finest building in Appleton.

Its third floor had been specially designed for Waverly Lodge, where it met for the next 42 years.


Lodge Room
Third Floor - Zuelke Building
(1882 to 1924)


The Castle

In 1924, a new Masonic Temple was built on the corner of College Avenue and Drew Street.

Today it is called the "Castle", home of the Outagamie County Historical Society and Houdini Museum.


In 1949 lodge membership grew to over 500 members, and due to this great number a second lodge was formed in 1950 - Appleton Lodge No. 349.  This lodge continues in operation today.


In 1986, due to financial burdens of maintaining such a large Masonic Temple the building was sold and the lodge moved again. It found its current home in Grand Chute on December of 1986, where it is currently located.


Ground Breaking for the Masonic Temple
Now Outagamie Co. Historical Society and Houdini Museum
(1924 to 1986)

1924-1985 Lodge.jpg

The Castle

The Future

Members of Waverly Lodge have always been business, civic, industrial workers and city leaders.

One has only to review the photos of our Past Masters and others on display to recognize familiar names related to the history of Appleton. Many of these men were instrumental in the formation of several local service clubs, the YMCA, the Visiting Nurse Association (VNA), as well as major industries and businesses.

We are proud to count these fine men among us, as we are fortunate to have exceptional members today.

As we look toward the future, we are hopeful that good men seeking light will join us in our work to better our community through Faith, Hope, and Charity.


Waverly No. 51
2023 Officer Line

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