CITY OF BEVERLY - SINCE 1824
In 1824 Liberty Lodge A.F.& A.M. was born on the threshold of an anti-Masonic frenzy which was spreading through the United States. From 1826 to 1845, many Lodges, and yes, even Grand Lodges ceased to operate or went out of existence. Undaunted by these adversities and the taunts of the citizenry, the members of Liberty Lodge, and Freemasons throughout the land, men of strong convictions and character, held fast to their principles and continued to practice their noble rites and Liberty Lodge has flourished these many years.
The lapse of time, financial depression, the ravages of war, and every conceivable natural or man made adversity have not diminished the lofty ideals of Masonry, nor the desire of it members to practice the rites of the "mystic tyge."
Liberty Lodge is the oldest continuously active organization in the city of Beverly, having listed among its members, a President of the United States, and Earl of the Realm, scholars, artisits, mayors, generals, storekeepers, gardeners, laborers - men from every walk of life.
The first recorded meeting of Liberty Lodge was held on March 22, 1824. At this meeting, officers were selected for the future Lodge. Jesse Shelden was the first Master of the Lodge. Other officers included John P. Webber, Senior Warden, Samuel D. Turner, Junior Warden, Daniel Poor, Chaplain, Amos Sheldon, Treasurer, Stephens Baker, Secretary, Francis Lamson, Jr., Senior Deacon, Emery Norris, Junior Deacon, Simeon Smith, Steward, Benjamin S. Lunt, Steward, George Brown, Marshal and Joseph Hill, Tyler.
The Charter of Liberty Lodge, A.F. & A.M. Beverly Massachusetts, is dated June 9, 1824, and is signed by the following officers of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts: John Abbott, Grand Master, Caleb Brown, Deputy Grand Masters, Samuel Thaxter, Senior Grand Warden, and John Keys, Junior Grand Warden. The first meeting after the Charter was signed was Tuesday, July 6, 1824, and the first Regular Communication was held on Thursday, July 8, 1824.
Members first met on Edwards Street in the upper hall of the home of Brother Colonel Abraham Edwards.
From 1834 to 1845, it is believed that members met in several places - Brother Benjamin Pierce's house at 305 Cabot Street, Brother Elliott Woodberry's home at 28 Bartlett Street, the home of Colonel Edwards, and Thomas Farris' tavern (now 312 Cabot Street.) Bell's Hall, Corner of Cabot St. and May St. was used as a meeting place from 1845 to 1852. From 1852 - 1868, the Lodge met in a hall over William Lord's store (now 152 Cabot Street.) The Masonic Building, corner of Cabot Street and Washington St was the first permanent home for Liberty Lodge and used from 1868 to 1924. Odd Fellows Hall was used as a meeting place from 1924 to 1956 after the Masonic Building was destroyed by fire. The following meeting place of Liberty Lodge, dedicated in 1956, was 20 Washington Street. The building was formerly the Congregational Church. In 2013 the members of Liberty Lodge took a vote to vacate and sell their aging building.
The members are currently having their monthly meetings at the Salem Masonic Building, 70 Washington Street, Salem. Although the members of Liberty had to make the difficult decision to move their meetings to Salem, their resolve has never been stronger to continue to support the Masonic and charitable needs of Beverly, as they have, according to their Ancient Masonic Traditions, since the 1800's.
CHARLES WOODBERRY - A MEMORIAL ADDRESS
Past Master of Liberty Lodge, Charles Woodberry defined Freemasonry in action in the City of Beverly. His contributions to the Fraternity and the City at Large reserves him a place of honor in the rolls of Liberty Lodge. To know the man was to understand Freemasonry. "Father" of the Annual Washington Birthday Celebration, which continues on to this day.
Click this book to view his Memorial Address.