Webb Lodge No. 166
Free & Accepted Masons
The lodge was named for Thomas Smith Webb, who became a very distinguished Mason and was Grand Master of Rhode Island in 1813 and 1814. He died in June of 1819, just a few months before Webbs Lodge was organized. He was made a Mason at the age of 19 in Rising Sun Lodge of Keene, New Hampshire in December 1790.
Originally charted as Webbs Lodge #19, the lodge was created after a meeting of Social Lodge #18 was held on November 5th, 1819. Excerpts from the minutes of that meeting stated it was “very numerously attended…affording hardly accommodations for all the members present, the W.M. informed that a suggestion was made for the brethren to take into consideration the propriety of dividing themselves into two distinct & separate lodges yet allied to each other by the bonds of brotherly love and affection.”
The arguments for the creation of a second lodge was brought about because “the application for admittances as Ent. Aprent. & Members had of late considerably increased in proportion with the growing population of this city & that in consequence the work had become rather heavy for one lodge, admitting of too few opportunities of communicating to the new initiated brethren those repeated instructions so essentially necessary.” It goes on to state that “Brother James Black made the motion for the establishment of a distinct lodge as before stated, which was seconded by B. Clarke and other brethren.”
The motion was put to a vote, which resulted in an affirmative and several members “who felt inclined to secede from this and become members of the proposed new lodge” signed a subscription list. The names of members who signed that list are: James A. Black, Augustin Slaughter, J. W. Wilde, J. R. Stanford, John T. Lamar, Austin Woolfolk, W. H. Jones, Frederic Stoy, Thomas Elligood, M. F. Boisdair, Richard Huntingdon, John M. Hand, Daniel Murphy, Joshuah Danforth & John C. Woodleiff.
The petition was then sent to the Grand Lodge for creation of Webbs Lodge. In the petition, it stated that James A. Black was recommended as Worshipful Master, Augustin Slaughter to be the Senior Warden and J. W. Wilde to be the Junior Warden.
The first meeting was held on November 25, 1819 for organization of the lodge. It was not until September 21st, 1821 that the By-Laws were read, evidently for the first time. They were then adopted and confirmed on April 19th, 1822. On October 31st, 1823, the first meeting of the lodge was held in the new lodge hall and it was resolved that there should be no smoking in the lodge rooms.
On July 17th, 1827, sufficient funds were raised to purchase a lot on which to build a new Masonic Hall. The lot purchased was located on the south side of Broad Street, east of Jackson (8th) street, where the business known as “Home Folks” used to be located. On June 2nd, 1828, the cornerstone of the first Masonic Hall (Temple) was laid with appropriate ceremonies. The building was dedicated on December 28th, 1829. It was later demolished and a second building erected in its place.
In May of 1830, the “Morgan Excitement” swept the country, severly attacking Masonry. By June 1836, the losses in membership as a result of the “Morgan Excitement,” had been heavy and there were not enough members to maintain two lodges. The charter to Webbs Lodge was surrendered so the members could affiliate with Social Lodge to keep it alive (being the older lodge). Apparently the action of surrendering the charter was not officially communicated to the Grand Lodge of Georgia, or it was overlooked, as the Lodge continued on the roll until 1838, according the proceedings which stated that a resolution had been adopted that “all lodges which are now in arrears to the Grand Lodge of Georgia for two years or longer, the same are hereby declared forfeited, and the Grand Marshall is hereby authorized and directed to proceed and take possession of the charter, jewels and furniture of the same.” Of those listed, was Webbs Lodge for the years 1832 – 1838.
As the old records were destroyed, it is not definitely known just when the first meeting to revive the lodge was held, but apparently about 1851, a number of brethren decided to revive Webbs Lodge. On December 21st, 1851, W. S. Rockwell, Acting Grand Master, issued a Dispensation to thirty nine brethren to work. The Charter was dated October 27th, 1852, with the officers being I.P. Garvin as Worshipful Master, W. H. Meharry as Senior Warden and Isaac McHare as Junior Warden.
On October 6th, 1883, Past Master John S. Davidson of Webbs Lodge was elected Most Worshipful Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Georgia. During his tenure, the Grand Master assisted in laying the cornerstone of the state capitol building in Atlanta.
On February 12th, 1887, the second Masonic Temple was destroyed by fire. The third Masonic Temple began on January 6th, 1888 with the cornerstone being laid on the same site as the previous two. The building was dedicated on December 27th, 1888.
On March 11, 1894, Grand Master John S. Davidson passed away. He was buried two days later with Masonic Honors and his funeral was the largest which had ever been seen in Augusta at the time.
On October 18th, 1897, Webbs Lodge approved a petition for a new lodge in Hephzibah, GA. The Charter was granted for Richmond Lodge #412. On February 21st, 1898 Brother W. F. Bowe announced his withdrawal from Webbs Lodge as he had been elected and installed as W.M. of Richmond Lodge #412.
The third Masonic Templewas destroyed by fire on December 10th, 1899 and after much debate, the old site was finally sold on May 8th, 1901. A lot was purchased on McIntosh Street as the site for a Masonic Temple, but was sold when the building at 715-717 Broad Street was purchased instead as the site for the fourth Masonic Temple. On February 22nd, 1906 the new Masonic Temple was dedicated with appropriate ceremonies, and four days later the first meeting of Webbs Lodge was held there.
On March 12th, 1913, a joint communication of Webbs Lodge and Social Lodge was held. The Grand Master of Georgia had previously been extended an invitation to visit and confer the M.M. degree. Brother William H. Taft, who had just a few days earlier completed his term as President of the United States, was then at the Bon Air Hotel in Augusta for a vacation, was extended an invitation to meet with his Augusta brethren. He promptly accepted the invitation. At this communication, there were about six hundred brethren from about fifty lodges, including Past Grand Master Sheppard of South Carolina. After the M.M. degree was conferred, Brother Taft addressed the brethren and a banquet was held. The lambskin apron worn by Brother Taft on that occasion has been preserved by Webbs Lodge and has been suitably inscribed and framed.
On March 22nd, 1916, a large majority of the business and residential sections of the city were burned. About 700 homes and 140 businesses, including the Masonic Temple, were lost (approximately $7 million in damages). After much debate, the lot where the Temple once stood was finally sold. On January 15th, 1917, a resolution to purchase the “Dyer Building” site was adopted. The site was located on the northwest corner of Broad Street and Jackson (8th) street. On August 15th, 1917 the cornerstone was laid with elaborate ceremonies. The first communication in the new building was held September 16th, 1918. The building was finally dedicated on December 27th, 1922.
On April 1st, 1923, Brother Warren G. Harding, President of the United States of America, visited Augusta and participated in the Scottish Rite Bodies’ Easter ceremonies in our lodge room. The chair in which he sat has been marked with a gold plate appropriately engraved. A few months later, Brother Harding passed away (on August 2nd, 1923) and a joint gathering of Social Lodge, Webbs Lodge and John S. Davidson Lodge, along with the Trustees of the Masonic Hall in the city of Augusta occurred on August 10th, 1923 in a Lodge of Sorrow for him.
The official history of Webb Lodge ends in 1935. In 1968, the present Masonic Temple, located on Wrightsboro Road, was built. It is presently occupied by Webb Lodge #166, John S. Davidson Lodge #677, Social Lodge #1 and the Yorkrite bodies.
Headstone located outside the Masonic Temple recognizing the five masters of Webb Lodge that have also served as Grand Masters.
Pictures located in the Masonic Library recognizing the five masters of Webb Lodge that have also served as Grand Masters. From left to right: John S. Davidson (1883-1894), M. Preston Agee (1941), Joseph H. Wilkinson (1946), B. Lee Amon (1956), and Clarence H. Cohen (1962).
|1. D. Baum Wilkes, Jr. (1976 & 1978)|
|2. James C. Faulk, Jr. (1979)|
|3. Richard T. Pacheco (1985 & 1998)|
|4. T. Gregory Oblak (1987)|
|5. James R. Reese (1991)|
|6. Jacques A. Palmer (1993)|
|7. Emil J. Klingenfus (1994)|
|8. James L. Huggins, Sr. (1999, 2002, 2012)|
|9. William J. Ayre II (2000)|
|10. Terry M. Dewitt (2001)|
|11. Richard T. Pacheco II (2003 & 2004)|
|12. Glenn F. Snider|
|13. Sidney F. Putnam|
|14. Frank J. Valentine, Jr. (2010)|
|15. M. Steven Fishman (2013)|
|16. Jack P. Goldenberg (2014)|
|17. Richard T. Williamson (2015)|