April 18, 2017

A Brief History of Hightstown-Apollo Lodge #41

Hightstown Lodge ostcard, circa 1920s

Circa 1920s postcard showing our lodge home in Hutchinson’s Hall.

The charter for Hightstown Lodge #41 was granted by the Grand Lodge of the State of New Jersey on Wednesday, January 9, 1856. The first officers of the lodge were:

  • Edward Crowell Taylor, Worshipful Master
  • James S. Yard, Senior Warden
  • Jacob Stults, Junior Warden
  • Thomas Appleget, Treasurer
  • William W. Taylor, Secretary
  • Isaac S. Buckelew, Senior Deacon
  • John S. Robbins, Junior Deacon
  • George H. Jones, Senior Master of Ceremonies
  • James H. Wikoff, Junior Master of Ceremonies
  • Charles Keeler, Senior Steward
  • Ira Smock, Junior Steward
  • Thomas C. Pearce, Tyler

Other charter members of the lodge were William D. Davis, Charles Bennett, Jehu Patterson, and Rev. Francis S. Wolfe. Mary E. Taylor, wife of WM Edward C. Taylor, made the first aprons for the lodge.

The first meeting of Hightstown Lodge #41 was organized on March 19, 1856 at the Odd Fellows Hall at 106 North Main Street in Hightstown, the current site of Allen & Stults Co. Insurance. In March 1866 a fire caused by sparks from the nearby railroad broke out and destroyed the lodge and several houses. After the fire the lodge temporarily located to the nearby United American Mechanics lodge.

The lodge moved to its new home in the third floor of Hutchinson’s Hall, located on Main Street, in 1867. People travelling through Hightstown could not help but observe the square and compasses affixed to the outside of the building.

In 1941, the lodge bid at auction on the condemned Mercer Street School, Hightstown’s original multi-room school, built in 1884. The final bid was $2,665 (roughly $45,000 in today’s money). The deed was transferred to the lodge in 1942 and in 1943 the Grand Lodge approved the move. That building, at 230 Mercer Street, is now occupied by the local YMCA branch.

In the midst of yet another relocation effort in the late 1970s, the lodge voted to approve a merger with Apollo Lodge #156 in Cranbury on October 29, 1977. Apollo likewise approved the merger on November 10, 1977, and the Grand Lodge approved on April 20, 1978 at its annual communication. The newly merged lodge has been known as Highstown-Apollo Lodge #41 since.

Hightstown-Apollo Lodge moved to its current home at 535 North Main Street, a building once owned by Highstown Grange #96. By special dispensation from Grand Master Edgar Peppler, we were given permission to open lodge on Mercer Street on May 11, 1979, and then march in open lodge, clad in jewels, aprons and with staffs, the three great lights and three burning tapers. We proceeded down Mercer Street, onto Main Street and then North Main Street and into our new temple. There we were greeted by the Master of the Grange, who then retired. We proceeded with business and then closed the lodge in our new and present home.