HISTORY OF RIDGEWOOD LODGE #710
As Ridgewood Lodge No.710, Free and Accepted Masons is a union of three Lodges, Ridgewood Lodge No.710, Instituted June 17, 1871, Cypress Hills Lodge No. 1064, Instituted June 10, 1926 and Star of Hope Lodge No.430, Instituted April 9, 1857, this history for its beginning has, of necessity, the origin of Ridgewood Lodge.
The first minutes of Ridgewood Lodge are dated September 28, 1870 and record that the Lodge met at 943 Gates Avenue, Brooklyn, N.Y. with the RW Henry W. Turner as Master. The Lodge worked under a dispensation granted by the MW John H. Anthon, Grand Master on September 26, 1870 upon the recommendation of Fortitude Lodge No. 19 and others, and it was set to expire on the 15th day of May 1871.
In the following terms nineteen Master Masons of Brooklyn had petitioned the Grand Lodge of the State of New York for issuance of a Charter:
“To the MW Grand Master of Masons of The State of New York”.
“The undersigned petitioners being Ancient Free and Accepted Master Masons having the prosperity of the fraternity at heart, and willing to exert their best endeavors to promote and diffuse the genuine principles of Masonry, respectfully represent: “That they are desirous of forming a new Lodge in the Twenty-first ward of the City of Brooklyn to be named Ridgewood Lodge, No.”
They therefore pray for a Letter of Dispensation, to empower them to assemble as a regular Lodge, to discharge the duties of Masonry, in a regular and constitutional manner, according to the original forms of the Order, and the regulations of the Grand Lodge. They have nominated and do recommend RW Brother Henry W. Turner to be the first Master; Brother George W. Close to be the Senior Warden, and W Brother William H. Reese to be the Junior Warden of said Lodge. If the prayer of this petition shall be granted, they promise a strict conformity in the edicts of the Grand master, and the Constitution, Laws and regulations of the Grand Lodge.”
Dated at Brooklyn this Sixteenth day of June A.L. 5870.
Henry W. Turner, P.M. Amity Lodge No. 325
William H. Reese, P.M. Cassia Lodge No. 445
George W. Close Cornucopia Lodge No. 563
William H. Fenwick Seawanhaka Lodge No. 678
John M. Fowler Columbian Lodge No. 484
Job Corbin Kings County Lodge No. 511
John B. Hester Seawanhaka Lodge No. 678
Lewis John Halbert Columbian Lodge No. 484
James G. Powers Lebanon Lodge No. 191
James C. Brower Long Island Lodge No. 382
Nathan Conklin Center Lodge No. 97
J.P. Carll Cornucopia Lodge No. 563
George B. Mason Arcanna Lodge No. 246
Noah Tittemore Masonic Union Lodge (Vermont) No. 16
G.H. Crans Cosmopolitan Lodge No. 585
Amos Bostwick Free Brotherhood Lodge (S.C.) No. 79
A.G. Merwin, P.M. Suffolk Lodge No. 401
Richard Oliver Anglo Saxon Lodge No. 137
George LaMonti Central Lodge No. 361
The records show that men of great character and ability were attracted to the Lodge and became active in its work. Two brothers rose to the eminence of Grand Master and forty-five others received Grand Lodge appointments
The first application for membership was received from Jeremiah Chapman on October 4, 1870. He received the three degrees of Masonry, being raised on January 5, 1871.
The original charter was presented to Ridgewood Lodge by MW John H. Anthon Grand Master on June 17, 1871.
At the 760th communication, the Lodge received the proposition for membership of Elbert Crandall. Brother Crandall received his third degree on October 6, 1887; served as Master during the years of 1890 and 1891, was appointed District Deputy Grand Master for the years 1892-1893, and on September 22, 1892 MW William Scherer, Grand Master visited the Lodge and presented to the then RW Elbert Crandall his apron and jewel. On June 7, 1894 RW Elbert Crandall was appointed Commissioner of Appeals and was elected Deputy Grand Master in 1900 and Grand Master in 1902 and 1903. He died on October 2, 1907.
In a meeting held October 1, 1957, the original Charter granted on June 17, 1871 was retired and placed in the custody of the Trustees. The new working charter granted by Grand Lodge at its annual communication in May of 1957 was substituted therefore in the performance of all functions of Ridgewood Lodge.
On June 12, 1971 a Gala Event was held at the Internaional Hotel to celebrate its 100th Anniversary. The Grand Master MW William R. Knapp was present along with his Grand Marshal RW Ernest Leonardi. The DDGM was RW Stanley Summers and W Hugo A. Martin was the Master. At the lodges 100th Anniversary meeting held previously on May 24, 1971 there were present 151 brothers including the Grand Master.
On October 20, 1996 Ridgewood Lodge celebrated the 125th Anniversary with a Dinner Dance that was held in the New Hyde Park Inn in Queens, NY. The Deputy Grand Master, RW Stewart C. McCloud was present along with his Deputy Grand Marshal, RW Vincent Libone. The District Deputy Grand Master was RW Seymour Silverman and the Master of the Lodge was W Herbert H. Becker. A set of engraved Steak Knives was presented as a gift to all who attended commemoration the event.
In 2000 Brother Carl J. Fitje was elected Deputy Grand Master. Brother Fitje was raised a Master Mason on June 20, 1980. He served as Master of Ridgewood Lodge in 1987 and was appointed District Deputy Grand Master for two years, 1990-1992 by the MW Richard P. Thomas, Grand Master. In 1992 brother Carl J. Fitje was appointed Junior Grand Deacon and Senior Grand Deacon in 1994 by the MW Gary A. Henningsen, Grand Master. He served on various Grand Lodge Committees notably the Grand Lodge Convention Committee in which he was Chariman when New York hosted the 1997 World Confrence of Grand Masters. During this time he received the Robert R. Livingston Medal and the Grand Master’s Certificate of Appreciation.
In May 2002 exactly 100 years to the date in which Elbert Crandall from Ridgewood Lodge served as Grand Master, Brother Carl J. Fitje was elected Grand Master of Masons in the State of New York and served until 2004. During his term as Grand Master he was elected to the Board of Directors of the George Washington Masonic National Memorial in 2003 serving as Director of the Memorial for a period of three years. He was also elected by his fellow Grand Masters of North America to serve as the Conference Chairman of the North American Grand Masters Conference held in Washington, D.C. in 2004.
Brother Carl J. Fitje received forty seven Honorary Memberships to Lodges within new York State and one Honorary Membership in the September 11, 2001 Lodge in Udine, Italy. Also he received Honorary membership in a Lodge in New Jersey and was appointed an Honorary Grand Master of New Jersey. Upon completion of his term as Grand Master he was appointed a Grand Representative to Norway by MW Edward R. Trosin, Grand Master, who presented him with the Charles H. Johnson Medal.
On March 29, 2003 Ridgewood Lodge raised fifteen new brothers who took their three degrees in the Grand Master’s One Day Class. This was an exciting day for the Lodge as this was the largest amount of new members in one day, but included the raising of not only the Grand Master Carl J. Fitje’s son Eric C. Fitje, but his nephew and brother of RW Robert N. Fitje’s son, Jorma R. Fitje.
June 17, 2006 was the anniversary date since Ridgewood Lodge was constituted and on June 12, 2006 Ridgewood Lodge held its 3072nd Communication. It was decided to hold off its celebration until later on in the year and on October 26, 2006 Ridgewood Lodge celebrated its 135th Anniversary year with a gala dinner dance at the Douglaston Manor in Queens, NY. It was well attended by many dignitaries including Ridgewood Lodge’s own RW Angel Ruiz, the current District Deputy Grand Master, Grand Treasurer RW Joseph A. Quarequio, Grand Marshall RW Kurt Ott and Grand Master MW Neil I. Bidnick. A Lenox Votive Candel was given as a gift of remembrance of all the Brothers and Sisters who were members of Ridgewood Lodge #710 over the past 135 years. Brother Walter J. Wasnieski 3d played the bagpipes in special honor of all past Brothers and Sisters of the Lodge as well as to honor our current Master W∴ Rene Rivera Sr. and Brother Jorma R. Fitje, two members of the Lodge who served in Iraq.
Unquestionably, the greatest lesson to be derived from reading this is the sanctity of the 133rd Psalm: “Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity”. A strict adherence to this age old observation has resulted in a Lodge that has earned the good will and commendation in the various Communities the Lodge has resided.