THE HISTORY OF GARDEN CITY LODGE # 59 Prince Hall F.&A.M.
Garden City Lodge # 59 was built on a solid foundation. The idea of the lodge was conceived in the minds of several reputable and outstanding citizens of Chicago in the early part of 1900. On June 27, 1900 a prayer was made to the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge Free and Accepted Masons of Illinois for dispensation to work. On September 8, 1900, Garden City was organized as an under dispensation lodge with Bro. James Renfroe as Worshipful Master, Bro. John T. Montgomery as Senior Warden, Bro. A.H. Dorsey as Junior Warden, Bro. Joseph Wright as Treasurer, Bro. Reuben G. Bell as Secretary, Bro. Lucien O. Renfroe as Senior Deacon, Bro. Arthur McCoo as Junior Deacon, and sixteen other members. They worked as such until October 11, 1900, at the convening of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge at which their request was granted and Garden City Lodge # 59 was formed as a regular and well governed lodge.
Garden City has been able to withstand many disappointments, trials, and tribulations with the thousands of brothers that have entered this lodge since its origin. The disappointments are easily overshadowed by the great work performed by the majority. The lodge grew from its original twenty three to one hundred and forty five by 1911, four hundred and forty eight by 1920, when they raised one hundred and sixty brothers which was only good for fourth place, and six hundred and thirty three by 1923. It moved from its first meeting place at Union Masonic Temple on 3956 S. State, to Casey Hall on 4653 S. State, then to 711 E. 47th St., to where we currently reside at 809 E. 42nd PL. From 1900 – 1909 we had seven Worshipful Masters James A. Renfroe (1900), A.H. Dorsey (1901), James T. Montgomery (1902), Lucien O. Renfroe (1903), Peter R. Thomas Sr.(1904) Reuben G. Bell, 33° (1905-1907), and Arthur L. McCoo (1908-1909). From 1910 – 1919 we had for Worshipful Masters, W.C. Ellington 33° (1910-1912) helped form Royal Eagle Lodge # 94, East Gate Lodge # 98, and Mt. Tabor # 92 in Chicago Heights; Bail S. Christmon (1913-1915), H.A. Haynes (1916), and P.J. Wheatley (1917-1919).
From 1920 – 1930, these are the years when several of the living Past Masters knew all or some of the Worshipful Masters who served from 1920 – 1930. P.M.’s Tate, Redding, Hicks, Brisco, Martin, Prentiss, Jackson, Jones, and Harvey were in the lodge at the time these brothers were still with us. George B. Fort 33′ (1920-1921), O.M. Hummons (1922-1923), Dr. Roscoe C. Giles 33° (1924-1925), Dr. Walter N. Thomas 33° (1926-1928), and H.W. Calhoun (1929-1930).
From 1931 – 1940 we had seven Worshipful Masters Frank Vaulx (1931), James A. Walker 33° (1932-1933), Earl T. McMillan (1935), Hannibal M.Cox 33° (1936), James H. Williams (1937-1938), and J.B. Gilmore (1939-1940).
From 1941 – 1950 we had seven Worshipful Masters B.V. Armstead (1941-1942), William H. Jones 33° (1943-1944), Otis L. Simmons (1945-1946), S.H. Rosenberg (1947), Peter R. Thomas Jr. (1948), and David Tate 33° (1949-1950).
From 1951 – 1959 we had eight Worshipful Masters William Robinson (1951- ), James Terry (1951-1953), Theodore R. Tate (1954), Robert L. Tate (1955), Esquire Buckner (1956), Eugene Purdy (1957), Oddie L. Redding (1958), William H. Williams 33° (1959).
From 1960 – 1969 we had nine Worshipful Masters Landry Bryant (1960-1961), James R. Bank (1962), Maude L. James (1963), Lee V. Hicks (1964), Earl D. Peterson (1965), Dr. Otha Brisco (1966), Kenneth Chrismon (1967), Nathaniel Martin Jr. (1968), Arvon A. Prentiss Sr. 33° (1969),
From 1970 – 1979 we had ten Worshipful Masters Isaac Washington 33° (1970), George Jackson (1971), Claude Mitchell (1972), Charles H. Jones (1973), John V. Harvey (1974), John J. Johnson (1975), Rev. Tobbie P. Gowans (1976), Prince E. Marshall 33° (1977), Henry Dorsey (1978), Robert B. Rowe (1979).
From 1980 – 1989 we had ten Worshipful Masters Arthur Murry (1980), Ernest Johnson 33° (1981), Marvin Ward (1982), James R. House (1983), Lawrence Watts (1984), Thurston Hill (1984), Arthur Parrott 33° (1986), Samuel Crowder 33° (1987), William. W. Willis (1988), Leroy C. Barnes 33° (1989).
From 1990 – 1999 we had ten Worshipful Masters William W. Jackson 33° (1990), George G. Reid 33° (1991), Kevin Sparks (1992 – passed in office), Wendell Tucker Sr. (1992 -succeeded after K. Sparks death-1993), Lawrence E. Richard – Bey (1994), Arthur L. Hodo (1995), Roger A. Buckley (1996), Wilford Holloway (1997), Michael D. Ramey (1998), Darin White (1999).
From 2000 – Present Lucas Rawls 33°(2000), Vincent Sykes (2001), Keith Sanders (2002), Walter Koonce (2003), Gordon L. Brewer Jr. 33° (2004), Kevin L. Harrington Sr. (2005) Gregory L. Brewer Sr. (2006),Wesley J. Brown (2007 – 2008), Maurice L. Hatter Sr. (2009-2010), Clifton Scott (2011), Traniel Thomas (2012), Morris A. Cirton (2013), Larry Collins (2014)
Garden City Lodge # 59 has carried on a long history of great men and masons which have done many great works for freemasonry and mankind. We pride ourselves on our knowledge, wisdom, strength, friendship, morality, and brotherly love. We have furnished many high ranking executive officials to all branches of masonry and affiliates. Even though this brief account does not show members who did not hold the office of Worshipful Master and many never aspired for executive positions in the lodge this does not dilute the quality and dedication to the craft there are so many great and historic events that have improved the art of freemasonry. Garden City Lodge is blessed to have in 2008 thirty three living Past Masters, ten Illustrious peers and several Grand Lodge appointments.
Through the years this lodge has contributed to it’s widows, we have a life membership in the NAACP, we have contributed to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, YMCA, Urban League, Parker Community Academy (Chicago Public Schools), Phoenix House for Women and Children (Garden City Chapter # 33 O.E.S.P.H.A.), The Sickle Cell Anemia Association, The National Multiple Sclerosis Society and a host of other charities, organizations, and causes.
As the years have come and passed from the time Past Master James A. Renfroe our first warranted Worshipful Master to Worshipful Master Morris A. Cirton (2013) there have been many outstanding brothers who have stood as giants in the East that were ably supported by the brethren who supported their ideas. To the pioneers to those on the rolls today Garden City owes its accomplishments. We stand proud of the accomplishments of the brethren and equally proud of the laymen who supported the ideas of masonry and this lodge through it’s one hundred and thirteen years of existence.