The History of Friendship Lodge
Last Updated: 9/10/03

Hon. Marcus Hensy Holcomb 1844 -1932
Governor, State of Connectiicut
1915 - 1921
On May 21st 1995, under the direction of Worshipful Master, David L. Ames, a Grand Celebration of the 200 anniversary of Friendship Lodge was held under a large tent in the parking lot of the lodge. The following was prepared for that celebration by WB Richard Arnold and Bro. Stanley Kokoski, Historian. It is presented here with minor revisions...

A very proud moment occurred for Friendship Lodge on May 2, 1970, when, during the ceremony celebrating the one hundred and seventy-fifth anniversary of the institution of Friendship Lodge, RWB Rouleau, on behalf of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of the State of Connecticut , presented to WB Russell F. Ellis, the Pierpoint Edwards Medal in Bronze for Distinguished Masonic Service.

WB Ellis was raised to Master Mason in Friendship Lodge on October 7, 1925, and served with distinction as Master of the Lodge in 1929, and Secretary from 1939 through 1969. He was Associate Grand Chaplain, District 5 South, with RWB Eugene Brown, District Deputy, in 1960/61, Secretary of Blue Lodge Council and also in Royal Arch Masons, Scottish Rite, I.O.O.F and local community affairs. WB Ellis attained the status of Illustrious Worshipful Brother as a 33 Degree Scottish Rite Mason in 1976.

In 1974, Triune Chapter #40 RAM, which had been meeting at our Temple, merged with Keystone Chapter #27, Meriden, CT.

On April 3 1975, RWB Arthur William Kratzert, became the 139th Most Worshipful Grand Master of Masons in Connecticut. Having been born in Monaca, PA., he was raised to Master Mason in Woodlawn Lodge No. 672, in Aliquippa, PA, and affiliated with Friendship Lodge on September 4, 1963. He has served with distinction as Master of Friendship Lodge in 1968, Secretary from 1982 through 1987. He was District Deputy for Masonic District 5B in 1977 & 1978, and was appointed RW Grand Junior Steward in 1979. He has served with distinction in numerous Masonic offices, including those in York Rite, Scottish Rite, the Sphinx Temple and in local community affairs. He was also coronated a Sovereign Grand Inspector General, 33 Degree, in St. Louis, Missouri.

On April 1 1987, MWPGM and Illustrious 33rd Degree Arthur W. Kratzert received The Pierpoint Edwards Medal in Bronze for Distinguished Masonic Service.

On the afternoon of June 8, 1975, Friendship Lodge held a publicly attended flag raising ceremony on the Lodge front lawn in observance of the American Bicentennial. Isabella Council #15 Knights of Columbus presented Friendship Lodge with the gift of a Bicentennial Flag as a gesture of brotherhood. The flag had flown over the US Capitol in Washington, DC. It was briskly raised to the peak of the new flagpole to the trumpeted strains of the "Star Spangled Banner." MWB Stanley Harrison, Grand Master, of AF & AM of Connecticut was present with his suite of officers.

On January 21, 1976, Friendship Lodge adopted The Russell F. Ellis Scholarship. The estate of Bro. Samuel W. Bowers bequeathed $5,000 to the scholarship fund. A plaque in the Lodge anteroom commemorates this gift.

In 1977, Harmony Chapter #35, OES, consolidated with Frederica Chapter #110, Plainville, CT.

Although the Marcus Holcomb Chapter Order of DeMolay relinquished it's charter in 1980, it bounced back in 1991 and is now flourishing with more than 40 young men maturing under its tutelage. In 1974, the Marcus Holcomb Chapter, and Southington Assembly #27 International Order of Rainbow Girls, first participated in the Town of Southington’s Apple Harvest Festival, which was a forerunner to Friendship Lodge’s later fund raising activities at the Festival, which continues to this day.

On October 17, 1984, the Temple Corporation’s building expansion was underway. On April 27, 1985, MWGM Arthur W, Kratzert, with his twenty-four strong suite of Grand Lodge Officers and Members, inspected and dedicated the Temple in due form after declaring it plumb, square and level. The construction work had expanded the ground floor westerly by several feet, repositioned the kitchen from the northwest corner to the southwest corner of the ground floor, and enlarged the lodge anteroom.

In September 1988, Friendship Lodge thanked WB James Bernadt for his donation of an organ, (much to the glee of Bro. Milt Wooding, the perennial organist, which serviced Lodge functions well until replaced recently by the existing organ.

Some cherished events occurred in 1988. In December, WB Robert C. Tatters, Chairman of the Historic Preservation Committee, and his then fellow Committee members, WB William A Bennett and MWB Arthur W. Kratzert, traveled to Barrington, RI, to record a conversation with Brother Gerald Woodruff on the occasion of his 60-year pin presentation. This Committee also video recorded conversations with Friendship Lodge’s two, then oldest, Past Masters, Worshipful Bros. Russell F. Ellis (1929) and Russell F. Stone (1934).

In December 1994, Harmony Lodge No. 20, New Britain, on behalf of its more than 130 brothers, planned to merge with Friendship Lodge and join an active and vibrant Lodge such as Friendship No. 33. Friendship Lodge unanimously approved the merger request. Under the steerage of RWB William A. Bennett, Past Master of both Friendship and Harmony Lodges, and Chairman of the Grand Lodge Welfare of Lodges and By-laws Committee, the Grand Lodge approved the merger at its Annual Stated Communication on April 5,1995.

Over the years, the Southington Assembly #27 Rainbow Girls have continued to be a blessing to Lodge Brothers and parents, and a guiding light to the young women of today. Their work on behalf of charities and Lodge functions has been and is a constant joy to behold.

In the past 25 years, two Past Masters of Friendship Lodge, RW Brothers Ralph K. Evans and William A. Bennett both rose to the esteemed position of District Deputy, Masonic District 5B. They have continued to actively pursue Masonic work both at Blue Lodge and Grand Lodge.

The Brothers of Friendship Lodge have enjoyed many varied and memorable fraternal events. Commencing in 1971, and continuing to 1984, Friendship Lodge exchanged frequent visits with Pulpit Rock Lodge #103, AF & AM, Pelham, New Hampshire, for each Lodge to perform a degree at the other’s Temple. The Trowel Club’s Summer Picnic, Golf Outing, and Children’s Christmas Party, have been enjoyed with gusto throughout the years, thanks to the leadership efforts of our worthy Brothers. To be remembered are the many years of long-weekend golfing and brotherhood trips to Maine in October.

Another quarter century has passed. We look forward to the next 25 years of brotherly love, truth and charity. So mote it be!

WB Richard Arnold, PM
Bro. Stanley Kokoski, Hist.