HISTORY OF SOMERSET-ST. JAMES LODGE #34
The histories of St. James Lodge No. 23 and Somerset Lodge No. 34 are so intertwined as to be almost one. The original St. James Lodge, chartered in 1793, was located in Preston City. The tavern in which the meetings were held is known as the North West Corner House located on North West Corner Road in Preston City. On July 18, 1963, members celebrated the 170th anniversary of St. James Lodge at this location.
Members of St. James Lodge were instrumental in the formation of Somerset Lodge with some even becoming members of this new Lodge. Indeed, Asa Spaulding of St. James Lodge was the first Worshipful Master of Somerset Lodge. As a result of the anti-Masonic revolution which began in 1826, Somerset Lodge gave up its charter in 1838 and regained its charter in 1845. St. James Lodge, still located in Preston, gave up its charter in 1846. In 1872, a petition was presented by Somerset Lodge to form a new Lodge in Norwich. The original charter of St. James Lodge No. 23 was requested from the Grand Lodge of Connecticut and was granted, this time, with some members of Somerset Lodge joining St. James Lodge.
During the present era, many lodges have found that they do not have sufficient membership to sustain an active Lodge. Thus, Somerset Lodge and St. James Lodge, finding themselves in the same predicament, decided it would be best to merge. Consequently, a charter was issued to Somerset-St. James Lodge No. 34 in Norwich, CT on January 1, 1999.
As a result of actions by the City of Norwich with the Mohegan Tribe, the bodies meeting in the Norwich Masonic Temple were obliged to vacate those premises in the year 2000. Interestingly, Somerset-St. James Lodge relocated back to Preston just a few miles from where its origin and history began.