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Fidelity Lodge #113 F&AM

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From Ho-Ho-Kus to Ridgewood

Before the end of 1871, the Lodge became dissatisfied with its Ho-Ho-Kus quarters. They were small and too accessible to eavesdroppers. A committee was appointed by the Master, W.Bro. Knapp, to find a better meeting place. The committee reported that a building with a suitable hall was being erected in Ridgewood. The hall would rent for $200 per year. The committee also reported that the present lodge hall could be rented for another year for $100. The lodge voted to stay in Ho-Ho-Kus another year. Meanwhile, Franklin Council No. 83 of the Order of United American Mechanics rented the hall in Ridgewood.

During the later part of 1872, the question of a move was again taken up and negotiations were entered into with the Council of the U.A.M. On February 6, 1873, when W. Bro. A. Marinus was Master, Fidelity Lodge signed a sublease with the Council for a period of four years at a rental of $175 per year. The Lease provided that the Council would buy the carpet and chairs used by Fidelity Lodge in Ho-Ho-Kus and in payment the lessor would deduct 25% from the rent each year until the cost was paid. The desks and officers' chairs were to be loaned by Fidelity Lodge for the joint used of both bodies.

The hall, known as Wilson Hall, was located on the upper floor of a building situated near the northeast corner of Broad and Hudson Streets. The lodge room was reached by a rear outside stairway. The ground floor of the building was occupied by the Writenour & Colfax General Store. After securing permission from the Grand Lodge, Fidelity Lodge moved from Ho-Ho-Kus to its new quarters during the first week in March 1873, and held its first meeting there on March 7, 1873.

1872 to 1880

W. Bro. Knapp continued as Master through the year 1872, having held this office during dispensation and for two full years thereafter. During this period there was a steady growth in applications for membership and many special meetings were necessary to keep up with the work.

In 1873 Bro. John A. Marinus was elected Master and continued in that office for three years. During the first part of this period, Fidelity Lodge continued its growth and prosperity. Then in 1875 a great depression swept the country and Masonic Lodges everywhere were affected. Fidelity Lodge members could not pay their dues and applications began to fall off. The Lodge could not pay its rent. In addition to this trouble, or perhaps on account of it, there arose dissension among the members which reached its height in the following year when Garret G. Van Dien was Master. An attempt was made by a minority group of members to withdraw from Fidelity and establish another lodge. Hearing of this, the Grand Master, M.W. Wm. Pembroke send his deputy to Ridgewood to summon a meeting of Fidelity Lodge. The brethren were told that a new lodge would not be permitted and that they must compose their differences and "see who best could work and best agree." Catastrophe was narrowly avoided. Nevertheless, the bitterness engendered at this time was to have its effect for years to come in retarding the growth of Masonry in Ridgewood.

In 1877 there was not a single candidate for membership. The Council of United American Mechanics went out of business and moved practically all of the furniture from Wilson Hall. Fidelity Lodge's rent was reduced to $75 per year payable directly to the landlord. Money was borrowed and various forms of entertainment were resorted to for the purpose of raising money to replace the equipment.

W.Bros. Van Dien and Edwards as Masters carried the Lodge through the fateful years of 1876 to 1879. In 1880 W. Bro. Marinus was again elected Master and the affairs of Fidelity Lodge began to take on a brighter outlook.

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