On Saturday the 28 November 1989 the "Collingwood Masonic Temple" at 141 Gipps St celebrated it's Diamond Jubilee with a Re-Dedication hosted by Abbotsford Lodge No 92. Number 92 was one of three lodges which established and owned the property.
A booklet was produced for use at this event that was attended by the Board of Trustees and the Most Worshipful Grand Master and his Grand Officers. Within this booklet was a history of the building up to that time. The history was written by Rt WBrother E Ellis, and it is reproduced below in full.
Three Lodges led the charge to purchase land and erect the building which still remains in the hands of Freemasons at 141 Gipps St in Abbotsford. Ambitious plans enthusiastically executed and revised during the 1920's. The Brothers who preceded us donated their time and added capital to this important project and the many Freemasons of today feel a strong duty to preserve and pass it onto the Freemasons who follow us in the future.
Also on this page are also images from the “Prospectus” seeking debentures from Brothers to fund the building of Gipps St. They set the minimum goal of $5,000 pounds to start the construction of two building on the site, later reduced to one. You can click on these to see larger versions of those images.
The Collingwood Masonic Centre Inc was created when the Trust was converted to an Incorporated body. Over the years 2010 & 2011 Freemasons of Collingwood, particularly those from Lodge Devotion, commenced work to transform the building back to its former glory and ensure its future.
The below was written in 1989 and for over 20 years Freemasons have preserved 141 Gipps St in Masonic hands with several Masonic Orders continuing to meet at the building.
THE COLLINGWOOD UNITED MASONIC TEMPLE TRUST
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE TRUST AND TEMPE,
Complied by Right Worshipful Bother E.C. Ellis, PSGW
On Wednesday the 29 November 1922, the Abbotsford Lodge No 92 called a meeting of all lodges meeting within the districts of Collingwood and Fitzroy, with the object of discussing the possibility of building a new Masonic Temple for the use of the Masonic Fraternity.
The meeting was held in the Abbottsford Temple, border of Hoddle and Perry Streets, Collingwood, at 8:15 pm, and was attended by representatives of the following Lodges;- Abbotsford, Earl of Carnarvon, Studley, Fitzroy, Federal, Victoria Kilwinning, Metropolitan mark and Abbotsford Royal Arch Chapter.
A resolution was then passed that endeavours be made to obtain a suitable block of land, of about 100 feet by 15 feet within the boundary of Victoria, Nicholson, Sackville and Smith Streets, Collingwood.
WBro C Merritt offered his services and expertise as architect, in and honourary position. At the meeting of January 29, 1923, the Acting Secretary was instructed to write to the following land Agents; - John Gahan, W.H. Kingsford, G.D Langridge, G.N. Chapman and C. Connor for prices and particulars re land that would be suitable for a Masonic Temple. Several lots, some with buildings on site, ranging in price from £4,000. to £7,000. were submitted by the Agents.
WBro G.F. Pitcher, PM of Fairfield Lodge offered his services and legal advice in a honourary capacity.
A subcommittee was formed to look into, and at, various lots on offer; and, on the 20 November 1924, the following properties were purchased for the total sum of £2,564, viz;- two 2-storied dwellings in Hoddle Street, 33 ft frontage, back to Henry Street 133ft, 3 inches, and vacant land in Gipps St, 68 ft, 10 ½ inches, plus 85ft, 2 inches along Henry Street. The cost of which was shared equally by the Abbotsford, Earl of Carnarvon and Studley Lodges.
At the meeting held on the 31 January 1925, the following Brethren were
On the 1 April 1925, WBro Pitcher submitted a draft of the Trust Deed, which was adopted, with a few minor changes.
On the 1 July 1925, Bro Little was asked to submit plans for two Temples, to be built on the site, and to obtain quotes for the building of the same.
On the 9 September 1925, the following quotes were submitted;- £27,000 and £26,000. After much discussion, the matter was stood over until the meeting held on the 11 November 1926, when it was decided that, owing to the limited finances available, Bro Little was asked to submit a further plan, comprising one Temple, and ancillary building, etc. It was also decided to sell off the two buildings in Hoddle Street, with altered back boundaries; the said sale to be in the hands of Br W Kingsford.
The houses were duly sold for the sum of £1,189. This sale was reported to the meeting of Trustees on 11 August 1927.
Several quotations for construction were submitted for consideration on the 8 March, ranging in price from £15,500 to £17,378; and on the 8 August 1928, it was resolved to accept the tendor of £15,500 as submitted by Morison Bros Pty Ltd, and Bros Timms, Allison and Kingsford were authorised to sign the necessary contracts.
At the meeting of 10 September 1928, the following important resolutions were passed;-
1. That the Most Worshipful Grand Master be invited to lay the Foundation Stone on the 27 October 1930, and that he be accompanied by the Most Worshipful Pro Grand Master.
2. That the St Phillips Happ be engaged for the refreshments section of the function.
3. That Brother E.A Timms be engaged to do the light catering and refreshments
At the meeting of 16 October 1928, the following resolutions were passed;-
1. That WBro Laird act as Director of Ceremonies.
2. That the trowel, with suitable inscriptions, be obtained from Bro H Whitehead.
3. That the following records, etc, be placed under the Foundation Stone; -
4. That WBro Hart attend to the choral arrangements and WBro Laird have an organ available
5. That WBro L.L. Myers to arrange to have police protection
The cost of the trowel was three guineas, and the rent of St Phillips Hall, one guinea.
It was resolved on the 15 January 1929 than an order be placed with the Melbourne Chair Company for 250 chairs @ nine shillings each, also to accept the tender of Bro Eastes for Wardens Chairs at twenty-three pounds each.
One the 20 August 1929, it was resolved that the tendor of D. Eastes for the seating in the Temple @ 12/6 per foot be accepted.
It was also resolved that the following rents be set;-
Lodge Room; three pounds per night
Rehearsal Room; ten shillings per night.
Main Hall, including kitchen, til 11:30 pm, two pounds, ten shillings per night; and from 11:30 PM tens shillings per hour or portion thereof.
Lodge Room for installation Rehearsal (one night per year); one pound
Sunday afternoon or evening for Main Hall; one pound., ten shillings
Lodge of Instruction twelve pounds per year
It was reported that Mrs Cope has decided to donate the DC's chair in memory of her late husband, Bro David Cope.
The first lodge to occupy the Temple was the Earl of Carnarvon No 102, on the 26 November 1929.
A short resume of some of the costs of incidentals; - piano; £25; laying or the carpet £3/16. The cost of polishing the floor would be £5 by hand, and £4 by machine. The machine won the contract!
At the meeting on 5 August 1930, WBro D.S. McHutchingson tendered his resignation as Secretary, which was received with a great deal of regret.
Bro H.W Stewart, Senior Warden of the Collingwood Lodge No 464, was elected Secretary of the Trust on 2 September 1930, which position he held until his death in 1960. The recently replaced organ in the lodgeroom was obtained and dedicated to his memory. He had the rank of PSGD conferred on him for service to the Craft.
The signs of the times were very significant by the number of debentures being surrendered and/or cancelled, due to the effects of the great depression, which did not improve very much until, during the years of the Second World War, when there was a great improvement generally throughout Freemasonry in Victoria. This, on the 5 June 1962, the Trust of the day was able to discharge the mortgage from the State Savings Bank
WBro W.H Kingsford, who was the negotiating agent for the purchase of the properties which became the Collingwood united Masonic Temple, served on the Trust from January 1925 until December 1964, a total of 39 continuous years, and he had one of his life-long ambitions fulfilled when the mortgage was discharged two years before.
In the post-war years, the effects of this improvement were very beneficial to the Temple in so far as the number of lodges that were meeting there. There we some eighteen Craft Lodges, and five other Orders.
In the late fifties, there was great decline in the membership, and, as a result, the number of Craft Lodges dropped off, either by amalgamation, vacating, or handing in their Charter, until in 1980, there were only six Craft Lodges and seven other Orders. At this time, the ownership was vested in Abbotsford No 92 and the Earl of Carnarvon No 102, Studley No 292 having hading in their Charter.
During the next four years, there was a lot of discussion as to the advisability of selling up the Temple, and at the meeting on the 1 May 1984, it was agreed to call a meeting of all tenant lodges for the 30 May 1984 to inform them of the intention of selling, unless some better plan could be suggested.
Accordingly, at the meeting, Rt WBro E.C. Ellis submitted a proposition to make all lodges meeting at Gipps Street part owners and equal shareholder with no ingoing charges, and that any future tenants be accepted on the same basis. The proposition was accepted by all in attendance, with the exception of the Earl of Carnarvon representatives. It was also moved at that meeting to recommend to the Trust that the motion to sell the property be rescinded.
Eventually, this proposition was put into action, and as a result, the Temple Trust has progressed remarkably, due in no small manner for the very helpful and excellent advice given by WBro I.S. (Tim) Dunlop, PGStdB, who became Secretary/Treasurer in September 1984.
We are now entering into a very promising future, and may the Temple always remain as a meeting place for Freemasons, as our Forefathers had envisages.
28 November 1989
The Original booklet is held in the Abbotsford 92 file at the United Grand Lodge of Victoria at 300 Albert Street East Melbourne and there is also a copy in the History Collection of the Collingwood Library. Pictures and booklet also in the CMC Inc Files.
Craft Lodges which were the original owners of what is now CMC Inc
Abbotsford No 92 – Warrant returned to Grand Lodge 23 July 1992
Earl of Carnarvon No 102 – Warrant returned Grand Lodge 31 August 1987
Studley No 292 – Warrant returned to Grand Lodge on 20 March 1979
Craft Lodges meeting at Gipps St today
Lodge Devotion No 723, founded 20 August 1952
Lodge Evolution No 931, founded 1 November 2008
There are also several other Masonic Organizations meeting at Gipps St