HISTORY of HILLCREST LODGE No. 1318
Respectfully Submitted by Robert E. Daniel, Joe Huckaby, and Fred Mayes 1949-1954
Continued by J. A. Guinn, J. D. Huckaby, M. B. Norwood 1954-1957
The formation of Hillcrest Masonic Lodge came out of an idea which can be contributed to a deceased brother, Clarence A. Meyer, Jr. It was in the latter part of 1946 or the early part of 1947 that this brother contacted Brother Fred Mayes and solicited his help in the forming of a Masonic Club on the campus of SMU. Together they contacted the District Deputy Grand Master Walter Brasher, and found that it would be against Masonic Law to form such a club.
A short time later Clarence A. Meyer, Jr., contracted pneumonia and died. However, he had succeeded in arousing interest in several students on the campus, as well as Fred Mayes.
In the spring of 1948 Fred Mayes contacted Claude Lundell, who had shown interest in Clarence A. Meyer, Jr.’s idea. They again contacted Walter Brasher and he suggested that they form a study club under the sponsorship of Highland Park Masonic Lodge. This club was to be composed of SMU students who were Masons. Fred and Claude did form such a club but it had a short life. For some reason interest in this club was not properly stimulated.
Then came the real beginning of Hillcrest Masonic Lodge. In the early summer of 1948, Fred Mayes noticed that the current District Deputy Grand Master John McKee was to make a speech at Landmark Masonic Lodge on the subject: “The Formation of a New Masonic Lodge.” Fred contacted Claude Lundell and together they attended this meeting.
At the end of this meeting, they approached John McKee with the idea of forming a new Masonic Lodge in the vicinity of SMU. DDGM McKee indicated interest in their plan and promised to contact them later. Soon afterward the District Deputy Grand Master furnished Fred with the necessary forms for organizing a new Masonic Lodge.
A sufficient number of Masons were contacted by word of mouth to hold the first organizational meeting on September 15, 1948, at Hyer Hall on the campus of SMU. Sixty-five Masons heard DDGM McKee present the procedures and rules to be followed in forming a new Masonic Lodge.
At the second meeting, Fred Mayes was acting chairman and Harry M. Jones was acting secretary. A letter was read from the City of University Park, signed by H. E. Yarbrough. Mayor; James B. Burleson, Commissioner; and Harold W. McCracken, Commissioner.
A committee consisting of Layton Bailey, Harold A. Bateman and Bascom Thomas was appointed and assigned the responsibility of selecting a name for the Masonic Lodge to be presented at the next meeting. Stanley Patterson, Chairman of the Building Committee, stated that he was unable to make any recommendations at this time.
The members at this meeting voted to have the annual dues as $8.50 per year. It was also decided that a twenty-dollar charter fee be established and approved by the membership. The nominating committee recommended for the approval of the membership and the Grand Master the following names for the respective offices:
- Worshipful Master – Harold Bateman
- Senior Warden – Fred Mayes
- Junior Warden – J. A. Guinn
- Treasurer – Earl Jackson
- Secretary – Jerry Drake
- Assistant Secretary – Harry Jones
These nominees, as selected by the Nominating Committee, were approved by the membership to be submitted to the Grand Master. It was at this meeting that Brother Claude Lyon, Secretary of Highland Park Masonic Lodge No. 1150, offered the facilities of the Highland Park Masonic Lodge Room to this new lodge until such time as it could find a home of its own. In order to get things started in the proper manner, a study club was formed at this meeting with Brother T. B. Arledge charged with the responsibility of heading up this group. At the close of the meeting it was voted to have another organizational meeting on Thursday, October 14, 1948, at the same place.
The third and fourth meetings were held at University Park Methodist Church on October 14 and November 4, 1948. Brother Stanley Patterson, Chairman of the Building Committee, reported that a two-story building near SMU, was for sale or rent. It was decided to rent the building, if possible. A spirited discussion centered around the selection of a name for the masonic lodge. Names submitted by Brother Layton Bailey’s committee included Varsity, Hilltop, L. A. Pires, H. F. Lively, SMU, Mustang, Hillcrest, Park City, and University Park. The committee recommended for adoption the name of L. A. Pires, but this name was rejected by the membership. Eric Lawler then suggested the name of Hillcrest and Dr. P. M. Walker seconded Lawler’s motion. The membership approved the name of Hillcrest.
Eighty Masons attended the fifth and final meeting held at Highland Park Masonic Lodge Room. It was decided to rent the two-story building at 6607 Hillcrest, the upper floor to be used as our lodge rooms, the lower floor for rental purposes. Thus began the chore of trying unsuccessfully to rent the lower floor of the building. At this time, records indicated that 141 Master Masons had signed the charter petition, presented certificates of good standing or demits and had paid the charter fee. Thus the organization of Hillcrest Masonic Lodge was completed.
Harry Jones sent the necessary papers, together with the request for a charter, to the Grand Lodge. This was done a few days before the opening of the Grand Lodge’s annual meeting. There were 159 names on the charter to be members of the new Masonic lodge.
Harold Bateman, Harry Jones, Fred Mayes and Jim Guinn had planned to attend the Grand Lodge meeting. However, a phone call from DDGM McKee moved up the trip. It developed that the Jurisprudence Committee had ruled that Bateman could not be Worshipful Master because he had not previously served as Warden or Master of a masonic lodge. Therefore, it was up to these men to find a qualified person to serve as Master on very short notice. A search of the files revealed that J. D. Huckaby was a past Master, thereby qualifying him to become Master of the new masonic lodge. A long distance call was placed from Waco to J. D. Huckaby, who consented to serve as our first Worshipful Master, and the charter was thus granted to Hillcrest Masonic Lodge on December 2, 1948.
On January 4, 1949, our masonic lodge was constituted in a beautiful ceremony with the late Right Worshipful Grand Senior Warden Gabe Allen representing the Grand Lodge of Texas. There were approximately 175 Master Masons who attended this colorful and impressive ceremony held in the Highland Park Masonic Lodge. Just two days later, on January 6, 1949, Hillcrest Masonic Lodge No. 1318 held its first stated meeting in the Highland Park Lodgeroom.
At this meeting Worshipful Master Huckaby appointed a Building Committee to make necessary changes to the leased building and furnish same, so that the March stated meeting could be held there. A call for volunteer workers was put out. The task was stupendous. The chairman worked night and day, as did his amateur workers, and our stated meeting was held in our own masonic lodge room March 3, 1949. Brother Bearden did not leave a stone unturned, or many dollars in the treasury, in presenting to the members one of the most beautiful and well-appointed masonic lodge rooms anywhere. Fred Mayes was given the privilege and honor of conferring this degree.
Original Hillcrest Lodgeroom
The third stated meeting of Hillcrest Masonic Lodge was an interesting one for it marked the first meeting held in our lodge room. Pictures were taken of the lodge room and a group picture was made of all members present with a view of forwarding this picture, along with a story, to the Grand Lodge Magazine. This picture still hangs today in the foyer of our lodge. It is interesting to note in the minutes of this meeting that Worshipful Master Huckaby gave a few comments, as well as the progress being made, regarding the leasing of the lower floor of the lodge, which as of that date had not been rented. At this time in the history of our lodge, finances had already made their importance known. There were sixteen members who, for various reasons, were unable to get their certificates of good standing in time to become charter members. These men had already paid a charter fee, and, without exception, would not accept a return of their money. Therefore, they were given the designation of pioneer members. Fred Bearden made a suggestion that inasmuch as the chairs had not been paid for, it would be nice for each member of the lodge to buy a chair. This created a new club within our lodge, the “Buy a Seat Club.” It is interesting to note that records reveal there were 42 members who bought a seat.
This brings us to another highlight of the Hillcrest Masonic Lodge for on April 18, 1949, the Fellow Craft Mason’s Degree was conferred upon Brother William L. Bagby. This honor went to the brother that was responsible for making the motion that our dues be raised to $12.00 a year at a later date.
March 26, 1949, our lodge suffered a great loss. Our Junior Steward, Dr. Harold Hart Todd, passed into the great beyond. Brother Todd was an outstanding individual and this was a great loss to our lodge.
May 19, 1949, was a red-letter day in the history of Hillcrest Masonic Lodge, for it was on this occasion that the first Master Mason’s Degree was conferred by our lodge. The degree was conferred on Brother Moffett D. Adams by the officers of Highland Park Masonic lodge, which was our Mother Lodge.
On Sunday afternoon in the latter part of May the officers of Hillcrest Masonic Lodge met and made some decisions which were not actually published. At this time the finances of our lodge were absolutely deplorable. The expenditures which our new lodge had been out in getting started and furnishing our lodge room, together with the $350 a month rent had completely depleted our treasury. With the grand lodge dues fast becoming due, it was necessary that something be done. It was at this meeting that our beloved Mike W. Tipps made one of his usual and famous remarks. The exact words are not recorded anywhere however, in essence, he said – “I refuse to be a part of anything that does not succeed, so here is my check for $50.00.” With this spirit prevailing among the officers of Hillcrest Masonic Lodge, the deficit to the treasury was soon eliminated. The names of those contributing to this relief are omitted with the exception of Mike Tipps, but it proves the able leadership which Hillcrest Masonic Lodge has had and the undying love for Masonry which has existed among the members.
At this meeting it was decided that Dr. Myers, our landlord, be contacted in order that some alteration on our lease may be achieved. The minutes of our June 2, 1949, meeting reveal that J. M. Huckaby announced that we could now have a new lease whereby we would rent only the upper floor for $150 per month, beginning July 1, 1949.
The first six months of Hillcrest Masonic Lodge were very successful in spite of the financial difficulties that confronted us at that time. There were 15 EA Degrees conferred, 8 FC, and 8 MM Degrees conferred. The membership of the lodge at the end of this period totaled 202 members.
The first stated meeting of the new Masonic year was marked by the ever-present trouble – money. The minutes of this meeting reveal that it was necessary for us to borrow $500 with which to pay our indebtedness. This $500 was borrowed from our amiable brother, C. H. Davis. It should be noted that he loaned us this money without any charge for interest.
The new Masonic year 1950-51 started on a high note with the membership enthusiastic and looking forward to continued success. However, when the bills were presented for payment at the first meeting, there was not sufficient money in the bank to cover the payment. This face prompted a resolution from the floor to the effect that our degree fees be changed but this resolution did not succeed. Instead, a special summons meeting was called to be held on July, 1950, to settle our financial difficulties once and for all.
There was considerable research spent in preparing the program for this special summons meeting. The Finance Committee together with the officers met and after due consideration, established a budget in order that we might control our finances. In addition to this, the officers met with the Properties Committee and prepared for presentation to the membership a complete summary of our expenditures toward improvements of our lodge room and equipment. The officers also met with M. B. Norwood and helped prepare a short resume of the progress which our lodge had made to date. The above laid the ground work for the special meeting and the minutes of this meeting reveal that a special report was given from the Properties Committee, the Finance Committee and also a short address by M. B. Norwood.
After much discussion the budget was adopted as presented by the Finance Committee. This provided control of the expenditures, however, it did not satisfy the deficit of the treasury. There were several solutions offered but they all seemed to lead nowhere. After a considerable time, Harry Arons, in his usual manner, had analyzed the situation to such an extent that he rose to the floor and suggested that all who desired be given an opportunity to make contributions to meet the operating budget for the coming year. With this suggestion, the brethren moved forth on this suggestion with $1,465.00.
The secretary then circularized the members who were unable to attend this meeting and gave them a short resume of the problem together with the actions taken at this special meeting. As a result of this effort, $1,544.00 was received from those members not able to attend the summons meeting. Therefore for the first time in the history of Hillcrest Masonic Lodge, the treasury had more than enough to meet the obligations.
This settled the financial affairs of Hillcrest Masonic Lodge, with the exception of an increase in dues which came shortly after this time. With the increase in dues and a sufficient amount of working capital, it is gratifying to note that the treasury of Hillcrest Masonic Lodge has expanded considerably from this time to date.
From the date of the summons meeting, our Hillcrest Masonic Lodge has enjoyed excellent leadership in the work of true Masonry. The way was not easy, and, from time to time there were occasions which called for true Masonic leadership and ability. Such a time was the carrying out of the Public Schools program in our area. Each year our lodge has observed Public Schools Week, and, in its humble manner has helped obtain a true American spirit toward our schools.
Under the leadership of Fred Mayes during the year 1950-51, our financial difficulties were settled and the lodge proceeded to have a successful year with the principles of Masonry being exemplified among the members. At the end of this year, our membership had grown to 292. There were thirty-one EA degrees conferred, thirty-one FC degrees conferred and twenty-nine MM degrees conferred.
Leveling Cornerstone in Lodge Building
During this year Hillcrest Masonic Lodge suffered two great losses when the Supreme Architect of the Universe called unto Him our beloved brothers Mike W. Tipps and Harry Arons. These two brothers meant much to the members of Hillcrest Masonic Lodge and were truly those who had a pioneering spirit and contributed unselfishly and without measure to the success of our lodge.
Another milestone in the history of Hillcrest occurred on May 5, 1995 when the building on Hillcrest Avenue was sold and the lodge purchased its second building at 5019 McKinney Avenue. The lodge occupied most of the second floor and leased out the lower floor for 15 years. Hillcrest Lodge then sold their Uptown building on McKinney Avenue, and moved into the current lodge location in the old Love Field stone quarry.