History of our Lodge

The preliminary steps for the organization of McKinley Lodge were taken late in the year of 1913 and early in 1914.

A meeting was held at which time the newest Past Master of Harmony Lodge assisted several of the Brothers who were interested in forming a new Lodge by providing information relative to the Grand Lodge constitution and regulations for forming a new Lodge.

The required number signed a petition for a dispensation and the proposed charter officers list was appended thereto.  After several more meetings were held, one being on the 29th of January 1914, it was noted that it was the birth date of Bro. William McKinley.  It was unanimously agreed that the new Lodge would be named McKinley.

A copy of the petition was sent to all Lodges in Milwaukee County, who all agreed favorably on the petition.  The petition was delivered to the Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge, W.W. Perry, at Cotrell Hall in the Ivanhoe Temple on 10th and Wisconsin Avenue.  The date of delivery of the dispensation was February 27, 1914.  At that time the Lodge was comprised of 61 members.

The first meeting place was in the basement of the Washington Park Presbyterian Church.  Two months later all records were surrendered to the Grand Lodge prior to receiving the Charter.  On the 10th day of June, 1914 a Charter was issued to McKinley Lodge, it being the 307th Charter issued.

At the close of the year 1914 the Lodge was compelled to seek new and larger quarters, due to its rapid growth.  Early in the year 1915 the Lodge moved their location to a newly renovated building owned by the Park Lodge of the Knights of Pythias.

Early that same year the Lodge began to discuss the advantages of owning their own building.  Accordingly, a committee on sites was appointed.  The committee worked diligently and finally selected a site on the corner of 39th and Lisbon.  The financing of the land purchase was accomplished by selling site certificates to the members at $10 per share and were payable at no interest.

In the years 1916 and 1917 the matter of building was discussed at various times, but no action was taken.  During the year 1918 much talk was heard that the present quarters were too small for a rapidly increasing membership and at the close of the year, a building committee was appointed.  In addition, an advisory committee on finance was appointed.

During the year of 1919, after several meetings, it was determined that by closing up an alley more land would be available.  Such action was taken and resulted in the purchase of two additional lots.  During the same year an architect was also engaged for the design of the new building.

In 1920 the meetings became more frequent and the plans and specifications were complete.  This was also the year that the Lodge raised 113 Master Masons.

At the close of the year 1920 it became apparent that the Lodge would not be able to continue at their present location for more than another year, so the building committee was instructed to proceed with the construction of the first unit of the new building.  The financing was through the sale of bonds. On the first night they were offered, half of them were sold.

A Realty Board was established with the provision that the Trustees became permanent members.  Members of the Lodge purchasing bonds received all of their principal back, but waived the interest payments.  At the end of 128 months the bonds were able to be retired.  The accumulation of interest and dividends was sufficient to pay off the bondholders.

The Cornerstone Laying Ceremony was held on May 7th, 1921, by the Grand Lodge F. &A.M. of Wisconsin, Grand Master C. E. Shaffer officiating.  W.W. Perry was Grand Secretary.  The Worshipful Master of the Lodge was Henry Van Male.

McKinley Lodge was a viable and growing Lodge in the following years, reaching a peak membership in 1959 of 1,570 members.  This was the year in which the Grand Lodge membership also peaked at 64,979 members.

Some of the early highlights of the Lodge and dates are as follows:
+ Lodge dedicated by Grand Secretary W.W. Perry representing Grand Master Wm. Weifer.
+ First McKinley Lodge Temple Topics was published in October of 1922.
+ Oct. 19, 1922, Past Masters conferred the M.M. Degree on the 700th member.
+ Apr. 9 – Class of 1915 presented an oil painting of President Wm. McKinley.
+ Aug. 1933 – Lodge purchased vacant lots facing Lisbon Ave. for $8000.
+ Jan. 29, 1924 – 700 members attended Lodge’s 10th Anniversary.
+ Oct. 1924 – the Temple Topics published a booster directory of businessmen for the purpose of “Helping one another”
+ Oct. 19, 1924 – 960th M.M. raised.
+ Sep. 27, 1934 – The Lodge mortgage was burned.

Because of the rapidly deteriorating state of the neighborhood, it became apparent that McKinley would have to sell its building and locate elsewhere.  In 1964 a site committee was appointed to locate suitable land.  In April of 1966 a building committee was appointed.

After researching several locations in the City of Milwaukee, a determination was reached to move westward and build a new building.

Eventually, our present site of 5.1 acres of land was chosen.

The final decision to move was made by vote of the Lodge on February 18, 1971.  The building was put on the market and an offer was received.  February 15, 1973 the membership voted to accept the offer by ballot, 99 for and 15 opposed.  Unfortunately, a variance could not be obtained form the City because of zoning restrictions.

The City, however, offered to purchase the property including the organ, carpeting, some furniture and kitchen equipment.  The offer was accepted by a vote of 91 for and 16 against.

The transfer of title to the property took place on April 19, 1974 and a decision to meet at the Myron Reed Temple was made on the same date.

On May 11th and attempt was made to remove the Cornerstone, but it was part of the foundation and could not be removed.  The upper box with its contents was recovered and examined and found to be in good condition.

The first meeting of McKinley Lodge at Myron Reed Temple was held on September 5, 1974.

On October 19, 1974, McKinley celebrated its 60th anniversary.

The Cornerstone Laying Ceremony was conducted on May 31, 1974 by the Grand Lodge, Grand Master Carl Skoog officiating.

On June 5, 1975 a mortgage loan was authorized.

On September 18, 1975 approval was received from the City of Brookfield for the building plans.  The ground breaking took place on December 20, 1975.

The building was completed and dedicated by the Grand Lodge on October 24, 1976, Grand Master Carl Garny officiating.

The occupancy date was November 4, 1976.

The 1975 mortgage was paid off in January 1989 and a mortgage burning ceremony was held on May 21, 1989.

In 1993, a major bequest was received from the estate of a member of the lodge and his wife.  With this donation, an Endowment fund was established to help meet the financial burdens of the lodge.  Several other bequests were received and added to the endowment fund.  Maintenance expenditures including new heating and air conditioning systems, parking lot paving, and roof replacement were done with the help of those donations.

In 1996, a major rental commitment was made when Goodwill Industries started a handicapped adult day care center in the building.  In addition to the community service benefit of this lease, the maintenance contract payments made by Goodwill helped to meet the rising cost of operating the building.  In 2004, Goodwill found other facilities and moved out of the building.

The Holiday Bazaar (started in 1980 by WM Dick White) was a joint venture between the lodge and Acadia Chapter Order of Eastern Star for 24 years until it was discontinued after the 2003 season.

In 2014, the Lodge celebrated it's centennial.  A special event was planned to honor the lodge and look forward to the next 100 years.

During the preparation for the centennial a committee was created to spruce up the building.  In the process of cleaning and improving a separate committee was created to explore and review the financial stability of the lodge and the future of our building.  It was found that several costly repairs would be necessary to upgrade the building.

After 3 years of planning and reviewing the infrastructure of the building and the costs involved to make major repairs, a motion was made January 5, 2017 to sell our building and put the McKinley Masonic Center on the market.

The vote on the motion to sell McKinley Masonic Center was held on March 2, 2017.  In 2018, Brookfield Lodge extended an offer to purchase 1/2 of the building from McKinley Lodge. After several months working with lawyers, January 1, 2019, the contract was legally binding and half of the McKinley Masonic Center was sold to Brookfield Lodge.