Masonic Buildings - Williamstown Masonic Centre
Lodge Devotion held its 2015 Installation at the Williamstown Masonic Centre. This provided our members and guests a chance to see a historic Masonic building; constructed in 1889. Having fallen into disrepair, over two years, in a partnership between the owners and Grand Lodge, the building was restored and extended into a first class example of preserved Masonic and Melbourne Heritage.The restoration included the addition of a glass atrium as a foyer and entertainment area, restoration of the lodge room, renewal of the kitchen and all other areas including the hall. There are also two meeting rooms with AV equipment and it is hoped external hire will help support its future.
We’re not sure how much the renovation cost, although it was reported several times at Quarterly Communications – I did find that the application with local council listed the works as $800,000. Sources tell me the project cost was around 1 million dollars.
Paraphrasing from Freemasonry Victoria # 129;
Seventeen years after the town of Williamstown was laid out, the first lodge in Hobsons Bay area was founded - Hobsons Bay Lodge No. 921 – constituted under the English system on 31 July 1854. This was about 19 years after Melbourne was founded in 1835.
On 8 December 1857, the Lodge of Industry No 1048 (English Constitution) held its first meeting at the Builder’s Arms Hotel in Williamstown. In 1862, it joined forces with Hobsons Bay Lodge, retaining the name of Lodge of Industry. The new lodge met for some time at the Napier Hotel as well as the Pier Hotel and the Telegraph Hotel in the early years.
In August 1865, the Excelsior Lodge No 117 (English Constitution) was formed. In 1873, the Industry and Excelsior Lodges amalgamated to form the Excelsior Lodge of Industry. Often Lodge merges are thought of as a modern occurrence as weaker lodges combine – but this merger shows such moves were being undertaken by Freemasons over 100 years ago in Victoria. The merge is reflected in the honour boards in the building which have a long list of continuous Masters but also note the name changes of the lodge. The Lodge relocated to the Club Hotel in Thompson Street in 1883 and then to their very own hall on Electra Street Williamstown. In 26 August 1890, the original foundation stone of the current Masonic Centre in Electra Street was laid with the Dedication (Opening) Ceremony being conducted 8 April 1891.
This progress is recorded in Foundation and other commemorative stones and plaques on the building, as well as honour boards in stone with gold lettering inside. The typical blue marker and text found on historical buildings can deservingly be found on the Williamstown Centre. It simple text reads MASONIC HALL Williamstown’s first Freemasons' Lodge was formed in 1854, the second, Lodge of Industry, in 1857, absorbing the first in 1862. The third, (Excelsior Lodge 1866) amalgamated with the second to form the Excelsior Lodge of Industry (1873) and they built this Temple in 1889.
Fast forward 120 years from laying the foundation stone, and with a two year renovation completed, on the 22 October 2011 the renewed Centre was reopened and rededicated. One of the returning lodges which had been meeting Werribee, was Williamstown Lodge No 16 and they marked their return with the initiation of an 18 year old man into Freemasonry – Bro Peter. Bro Peter said “Freemasonry is something I’ve always wanted to do and it’s something special I will be able to share with my Dad. I’ve met many Freemasons over the years and they have all been good men of high mortal standing and principles. That’s something I would like to emulate and look forward to being a part of it.” Peter’s father acted as Master and it is worth mentioning the Grand Master of the Day, Bob Jones, acted as Inner Guard – showing even the highest amongst us remember that we are all brothers and equal.
The renovation is a credit to all involved and I challenge them to leverage this investment with candidates and sound financial management.
Note - all pictures on this page can be clicked for a closer view.
Above and below, plaques on furniture record the donors.
Above and below, Williamstown Lodge Room
Below, Lodge Devotion Warrant hangs at Williamstown Masonic Centre
Below, Junior Wardens Chair
Below, Senior Wardens Chair
Detail on some of the internal renovations maximizing the beauty of this historic lodge room
Above and below, honour boards record the history of Freemasons meeting in the building
Willamstown Masonic Centre, formally Williamstown Masonic Temple, 25 Electra St, Williamstown VIC 3016 Australia