Celebrating 125 Years of Freemasonry in Watertown, NY

Congratulations to Bethany Lodge #821

Craftsmen Online salute Bethany Lodge #821 on their 125th anniversary this year

Bethany Lodge #821 was organized under Dispensation on December 11, 1896. The Grand Lodge of the State of N.Y. issued the charter on June 2, 1897. Over the years, the Brethren of Bethany Lodge have been a significant pillar in the community of Watertown, with members serving in both World Wars, supporting the widows and children with Holiday fundraisers, hosting hunter safety courses for new hunters, sponsoring basketball teams for youth, putting on Father and Son dinners, using the Lodge building for Cub Scout meetings, Fire Department and auxiliary dinners, and keeping 2 miles of Route 3 free of waste and debris through the N.Y.S. Department of Transportation Adopt-A-Highway Program.

We salute Bethany Lodge by presenting Five Things You Need To Know About The History of Bethany Lodge #821.

Service to country

Many of the Lodge members served in the Armed Forces in both World Wars I and II. Soldiers from Pine Camp (later Camp Drum, and then Fort Drum) joined the Lodge in size able numbers during and after WWII. In 1946, the years after the war ended, 22 new Masons were raised in Bethany Lodge. There was degree work at almost every meeting.


Bethany Lodge has traded visits with Canadian Lodges across the St. Lawrence River. In 1957, 187 Masons were present when we put on a 3rd Degree for two new brothers. Twenty-nine Americans and Canadian Lodges were represented.


On June 7th, 1997, Bethany Lodge Celebrated its Centennial Celebration with a warm letter of congratulations from M∴W∴ Earle J. Hino Jr. the then current Grand Master. The R∴W∴ Carl J. Smith (1997), Senior Grand Warden was present and conducted the Ceremony. Over 200 Masons, family members and supporters were present for the reception dinner following the event.


From the beginning until 1921, the Lodge had several committees investigating property and buildings to find a suitable home. The Lodge purchased our present building in September 1913 for $500. (Yes, you read that correctly!) Prior to our purchase, the building was the Northside Elementary School. Much rebuilding and alteration was done to the building over the next eight years to adapt it for Lodge use, and in June 1921, our furniture and equipment was moved into our new Masonic Temple, and the Lodge began to hold its meetings and other activities there.


In 1899, annual Lodge dues were $2.00. The By-laws were changed in 1900 to raise the annual dues to $3.00. This was apparently unacceptable considering the economy at that time, as the By-Laws were again amended in 1901 to reduce the annual dues back to $2.00. At that time, a lambskin apron cost $.50!

Compiled by the staff of Craftsmen Online. Special thanks to R.W. Terry A. Byard and the Master of Bethany Lodge #821, W. Mike Bova for providing the history of Bethany Lodge for this article.