Harmony Lodge #8 is the second oldest Masonic Lodge in New Jersey, and was founded on June 24th 1788; five years after the close of the Revolutionary War, one month prior to the ratification of the Constitution, and ten months before the Inauguration of this country’s most famous Mason, George Washington, as the first President of the United States.
Brief Chronological History
On June 19th 1788 a request was made of the GL of NJ by Bros. Thomas Anderson, Samuel Kennedy, Mark Thompson, Edward Dunlop, Joseph J. Hendrie and John Johnson to have a warrant issued for the formation of a Lodge to serve the Masons of Sussex County.
On June 23rd, 1788, the GL of NJ constituted Harmony Lodge #8 with Thomas Anderson (Master), Samuel Kennedy (Sr. Warden) and John Holmes (Jr. Warden) with full power to hold their lodge in Newton.
On June 24th, 1788 a dispensation was granted by MW David Brearly empowering WB Thomas Anderson.
The first meeting of Harmony Lodge #8 under the warrant and dispensation was held on the 16th day of July, 1788, at the house of Jonathan Willis in Newton. By-laws were settled and approved at a public lodge held on October 30th, 1788 and were enacted ad confirmed at a subsequent public meeting held on November 20th, 1788.
Harmony Lodge #8 continued to meet for over 28 years – from June 24, 1788 until November 12, 1816 – at which time it surrendered its charter to the Grand Lodge. It was resuscitated on November 9th, 1819 and its charter was restored.
Harmony Lodge #8 continued to meet until 1828, at which time suspended its labors and it was not represented at Grand Lodge for 13 years. After a lapse of 24 years the Lodge was resuscitated and its number changed from No. 8 to No. 23. Its first meeting as No. 23 was held on April 15th 1852. MW Edward Steward was present and gave the brethren a dispensation authorizing Lyman Edwards (Master), Ira Beach (Sr. Warden), William Beach (Jr. Warden), William Knapp (Treasurer), Clarkson Drake (Secretary), Nathan T. Meachem (Sr. Deacon), John Hunt (Jr. Deacon), and John Frazier (Tyler).
Harmony #23 met under this dispensation for eight and one half months, and on January 12th 1853 the Grand Lodge constituted the Lodge with Lyman Edwards (Master), Ira Beach (Sr. Warden) and John Hunt (Jr. Warden). The lodge continued to meet as Harmony #23 until March 16th, 1905 at which time it was restored to Harmony Lodge #8. Regular communications were held continuously from 1852 to the present day. From 1852 to1866 the communications were held monthly. Thereafter they have been held twice a month.
Grandfather clock donated by Bro. William A. Savacool in 1942
George Washington plaque donated in 1955 by Bro. Charles McKeown in memory of his father Bro. Charles McKeown Sr.
Snuffer donated in 1957 by WB William E. Stephens in memory of his father WB Allen E. Stephens
Picture of George Washington laying the Cornerstone donated by Bro. George Vinson
Rough and perfect Ashlars donated in 1981 by Bro. John Fuller
1987 – JMC Ray Schwartz entered the lodge in full period dress representing Warrant Master Thomas Anderson as part of our 200th anniversary celebration.
Meeting places of Harmony Lodge
July 16, 1799 – May 4, 1789
Met in the house of Jonathan Willis
May 4, 1789 – Aug 31, 1789
Met in the house of William Kerr
Aug 31, 1789 through 1800
Met in the house of Timothy Symmes and other homes in the area
1800 – 1816
They secured a location called “Lodge Hall” and met at this location up until the time the charter was surrendered.
During this period, on November 8, 1808 they petitioned the Grand Loge for permission to hold communications alternately in the Townships of Newton and Hardwick inSussexCounty– ½ year in each place. This continued until March 4, 1811 at which time they relinquished the right to hold meetings in Hardwick and resumed monthly meetings inNewton.
April 15, 1852 – May 5 1853
When the Lode was first reorganized its first meeting was held in two rooms in the “Cochran House” and meetings continued there until May 5, 1853.
May 5, 1853 – 1858
Moved to a new lodge room in the store house of William Beach on the corner of Spring St. andMain St.inNewton
1858 – 1875
By 1858 the number of Brothers had grown to such a point where the accommodations at William Beach’s house were no longer sufficient. They obtained a lease from Bro. Samuel J. Coursen for the third story of a large brick building on the westerly side of Spring Street. This house was later occupied by J. Linn Lewis and meetings continued there until 1875. There is still a Masonic Emblem over the store. In 1863 a fire completely destroyed all the furniture and working tools of te lodge. The charger, books, and papers were saved.
A lease was taken from Jacob L. Swayze for twenty years in the third story of a large brick building on the easterly side of Spring Streen at the corner of Spring and Moran Streets (the old Sears & Roebuck store).
Jan 1, 1903
The lodge moved temporarily to Odd Fellows Hall. On June 11th 1903 they moved into new rooms in theNewtonTrustCompanyBuilding and the rooms were publicly dedicated by MW Grand Master W. Holt Apgar and officers of the Grand Lodge. The first stated communication in the new rooms took place on June 25, 1903. The rooms were redecorated during the summer of 1935.
Moved to the new Masonic Temple built at 519 Rte 206 South. The first meeting in the new Temple was held on September 3, 1964. The cornerstone laying took place on September 26, 1964. Bro. Fred C. Iliff Jr. was the first Worshipful Master to be qualified and duly installed in the new Temple.