One spring day in 1929, three Freemasons were in a golf match playing on the Ansley Golf Course in Atlanta. Stephen Clay McGarity and Albert Gordon Callaway were two of these Masons. One of them ignited a discussion as to why no Masonic Lodge was in the Morningside area. By the end of the match, these Masons pledged themselves to create a new Lodge.
The original membership of Morningside Lodge # 295 was about 95 Masons, most of whom were meeting at the Greenfield Lodge. Brother Albert H. Bailey of the Greenfield Lodge had already planned to build a commercial building on a lot at the corner of Piedmont Rd. and Windham and offered part of this building for Lodge use. His store was built, and the upper floor built to Morningside’s specifications. A five year lease was signed by sixty of the charter members, and in October of 1930, they moved in. On November 06, 1930, the Grand Lodge of Georgia and Grand Master W.S. Richardson duly consecrated, dedicated, and constituted Morningside as regular Lodge # 295. Brother Bailey did not charge rent for the remainder of the first year, and to reciprocate his many generosities, Brother Bailey was elected as the first honorary member of Morningside Lodge # 295.
The early 1930’s were one of the worst financial times in U.S. history, and starting a Lodge was difficult with so many in despair. The membership of Masons in Georgia was just over 70,000 in 1930 and fell to around 38,000 by 1939. However, even in 1933, arguably the worst year economically in U.S. history, Morningside Lodge showed a modest growth in membership with much dedication from its existing members It was perhaps the only lodge in Georgia to grow that year. In 1936, Morningside had its best year to date, paying off its debt and adding its greatest number of members. Morningside had a great reputation for its degree work, and the Lodge dramatized its third degree work by traveling throughout the state, conferring the degree. Additionally in 1936, a program of clothing needy children was started under the presiding Master Franklin Cortez Mims. This program grew to such an extent that a few years later, shoes and socks were provided for 300 children at the Formwalt and Crew schools each year.
In 1944, Morningside felt the tremendous upsurge in interest in Freemasonry. By 1955, when the Lodge was 25 years old, the membership had grown from the original approximate 95 to over 800 members. This record of Morningside Lodge provided a constant challenge to all of those who would lead. The officers were chosen on the basis of personal merit. The members themselves being leaders, insisted upon a higher degree of qualification and sacrifice. The success and eminence of Morningside was attained largely due to the fine balance maintained between demanding membership and a qualified leadership.
At that time, the Lodge had become aware that the current location was stretched beyond its limits in accommodating the current membership. Morningside had left the class of smaller Lodges and needed suitable space for a large and compelling membership. On June 18, 1948, the Morningside Masonic Temple Corporation (MMTC) was organized in the Fulton County Superior Court for the purpose of building a new Lodge. The MMTC was controlled by a board of 12 directors, including the Worshipful Master, Senior Warden, Junior Warden, Treasurer, and Secretary of Morningside Lodge plus seven additional trustees, selected from the general Lodge membership by these officers. The MMTC existed in a dormant state from1949 until 1954, when it was re-activated by WM Lonnie A. Dell with definite plans for the purchase of a lot and the erection of a new Lodge home for Morningside. In July of 1955 and for a sum of $17,000, a building site was purchased on Wellbourne Ave., near the intersection with Cheshire Bridge. Three lots were purchased on the west side with just over 270 feet of road frontage. Morningside Lodge continued its greatness in membership and community services for many years.
Decatur Lodge # 723 consolidated with Oglethorpe Lodge # 655 on November 28, 1989 and became Oglethorpe-Decatur Lodge # 655 F&AM. Morningside Lodge # 295 and Oglethorpe-Decatur Lodge # 655 consolidated on December 3, 1999 and became what is now Masters Lodge # 295 F&AM.
- Oglethorpe Masonic Lodge # 655 F&AM Constitued Dec. 08, 1923
- Morningside Lodge # 295 F&AM Constituted Oct. 29, 1930
- Decatur Lodge # 723 Constituted Nov. 14, 1958
- Masters Lodge # 295 Constituted Dec. 03, 1999
Oglethorpe Lodge # 655 Benevolence Box
* Adapted from WB J. Richard Sims' 2006 historical account with contributions from WB Peter R. Swank and WB Tom Bruce of Tucker Lodge # 42.