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Free and Accepted Masons 

With a view of obtaining a Warrant for a Lodge of Free and Accepted Ancient York Masons, to be located at Scranton, Pennsylvania a meeting of the Fraternity was held at Odd Fellows Hall (on the present site, year 1901, of the store and offices of the Lackawanna Iron and Coal Company, corner of Lackawanna and Jefferson Avenues), on the 29th of May,1854, A.L. 5854, at which the following resolutions were adopted:

  • "Resolved", we severally and as a body petition the R.W. Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania for a warrant of constitution empowering us to meet as a regularly constituted Lodge, to be located at Scranton, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania.

  • "Resolved”, the name of said Lodge shall be Union Lodge.  The name "Union" was chosen for the following reason: The United States Government in Washington at this time was torn with dissension and strife. Southern legislators were talking States Rights and the Right of Secession. The Northern legislators were opposed to any division of the Country.  In Congress, such men as John C. Calhoun, Henry Clay and Daniel Webster put forth their views and tried to put off the war which seemed inevitable. The men who were installed as Officers, were men who believed that this Country should not be divided, hence the name "Union".

  • "Resolved", we do unanimously elect and recommend Bro. Richard A. Oakford, to be our first Master; Bro. John D. Mead, first Senior Warden; Bro. William H. Pier, Jr., Junior Warden of said Lodge.

  • Our first Master, Richard A. Oakford, a Colonel in the 132th Regiment - Pennsylvania Volunteers, was killed during the Civil War at the Battle of Antietam, Maryland on September 17, 1862, five years after leaving his Station in the East.


The above petition having been approved by the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania a warrant of constitution was granted.


Union Lodge No. 291, F. & A. M., was regularly constituted on November 29th, A.D. 1854, A.L. 5854, by the following Grand Officers:


  • James Hutchinson, R.W.G.M. 

  • Peter Williamson, R.W.D.G.M.

  • Charles Bard Reese, Acting R.W.S.G.W. 

  • Jacob Lauderslager, Acting R.W.J.G.W. 

  • Thomas Baxter, R.W. Grand Treasurer 

  • William H. Adams, R.W. Grand Secretary


The following were installed as the first officers: 

  • Richard A. Oakford, Worshipful Master

  • John D. Mead, Senior Warden 

  • William H. Pier, Jr., Junior Warden 

  • Oliver P. Clark, Treasurer

  • George B. Boyd, Secretary


The Charter Members in addition to the above were:

  • Elisha Hitchcock                              

  • Henry Griffin

  • L.W. Clark                                       

  • Stewart Dilley

  • John R. Kelly                                   

  • Douglas H. Jay

  • Robert W. Luce                                

  • James Merrill 

  • Joseph T. Fellows                            

  • Alexander Kemer               

  • John M. Washington

  • P.C. Morgan


The Lodge was constituted and met for four years in Odd Fellows Hall, (on the present site, "yr.1901" of the store and offices of the Lackawanna Iron and Coal Company, corner of Lackawanna and Jefferson Avenues), located near the present site of "The Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad Station" now the Radisson Hotel. The building was also used for a Church, Sunday School, School House and other public meetings. 


It was torn down to make way for the Company Store of the Lackawanna Iron and Steel Company. The Lodge has had nine places of meeting since its constitution. In 1858 it moved from Odd Fellows Hall to a building located on the South comer of Lackawanna and Wyoming Avenues. The Charter, furniture and other property of the Lodge were destroyed by fire on July 30th,1863. A copy of the Charter was obtained from the Grand Lodge, therefore, since that time, Union Lodge has been working under this copy.


In September 1866, the Lodge held meetings in the large (Red Sandstone) building located at the corner of Penn Avenue and Linden Street, known as the G.A.R. Building, to this day (1999), you can see the stain glass windows with its Masonic symbols on the third floor. In May1899, the Lodge moved to Masonic Hall, 420 Spruce Street, which is now the Miller Building, where it remained until April 1909, at which time the meeting place changed to the Masonic Temple, 326-328 Adams Avenue. 


This building was formerly the old Armory and was converted into a theatre where the present Armory at 900 Adams Avenue was built. The Masonic bodies, consisting of Union Lodge No. 291, Peter Williamson Lodge No. 323, Schiller Lodge No. 345, Lackawanna Royal Arch Chapter No. 185 and Coeur de Lion Commandery, learning that the Theatre Building was for sale, entered into negotiations for its purchase, which finally ended in success. 


Alterations having been completed, the various bodies moved into the structure April 1909. This was the first time during the 55 years of Union Lodge's existence that it became a part owner of its place of meeting.


The Masonic Temple, 326-328 Adams Avenue, served the Masonic Bodies of that time very well until World War I, or the years 1916 to 1918 when, due to the rapid growth in membership, it became evident that this Temple would soon be too small to properly serve the various Bodies.


The Scottish Rite, which owned a building on Wyoming Avenue, entered into negotiations with the other Masonic Bodies of the City of Scranton with the thought of combining their resources and building a Masonic Temple worthy of the name, and one that would serve the Fraternity fully for many years to come. An agreement was reached in due course of time where upon the Scottish Rite Bodies sold its building on Wyoming Avenue and moved into the Masonic Temple on Adams Avenue, where meetings were held until the contemplated building was ready for occupancy.


After long negotiations, an agreement was reached when all the Masonic Bodies in Scranton decided to join together and erect a building which would be called the "Masonic Temple and Scottish Rite Cathedral". 


The committee appointed to select a site, decided on the Thomas Dickson and Coursen properties on North Washington Avenue between the Albright Public Library and the Elks Building, now the (Lackawanna College Hall). Raymond Hood, an architect from New York City was selected, plans submitted and the contract let.


About the year 1928, the building at 420 N. Washington Avenue began to take shape.


Fixed Cost April 30,1930 

Purchase of Land..........      $121,870.41 

Building Cost ................   $1,819,875.59

Furniture and Fixtures..         $264,188.88

Total Cost .....................   $2,205,934.88


Union Lodge No. 291 had for its share ($197,122.33) or 8.936% of this total cost to provide and finance.


In 1960, Union Lodge paid in full its share of the Masonic Temple debt and in the ensuing years participated in other drives for funds to help liquidate the balance of the Temple debt and more recently, paid in full its pledge to the Scranton Cultural Center. 


At this time, it was decided to sell the Adams Avenue Masonic Temple to help finance the cost of the new building. Sears Roebuck & Company purchased the property in November 1928, after which Union Lodge held its meetings in Hyde Park Masonic Hall, 208 North Main Avenue, in West Scranton until December 11th, 1929. The new Masonic Temple and Scottish Rite Cathedral located at 420 North Washington Avenue, was readied for occupancy and on January 3,1930, Union Lodge No. 291 held its first meeting in the new building.


Since the organization of Union Lodge, the following Lodges have been constituted, with their Charter Members from Union Lodge:

  • Peter Williamson Lodge No. 323

  • Hyde Park Lodge No. 339 

  • Schiller Lodge No. 345

  • King Solomon Lodge No. 584

  • Green Ridge Lodge No. 597


On December 27, 1972, Hiram Lodge No. 261 merged into Union Lodge No. 291. By this acquisition, 175 Masons were welcomed into the membership of Union Lodge No. 291.

Union Lodge No.291 continues to meet at 420 North Washington Avenue now called the "Scranton Cultural Center at the Masonic Temple", where there are three beautiful lodge rooms, a Banquet Ballroom, a well-stocked library, an auditorium and other necessary facilities for Masonic purposes. Our Lodge is in good financial condition, and it faces the future with confidence and determination. So Mote It Be.

NOTE: Hiram Lodge No. 261, constituted 1852, and Union Lodge no. 291, constituted 1854; both were constituted in Luzerne County, PA. The reason being there was not a Lackawanna County at the time. Luzerne County went all the way up to New York border.


Finally, after a forty year wait, an Act by the Assembly in Harrisburg approved on April 17, 1878, for the people in the (Borough of Providence, Borough of Hyde Park, and Scranton “Slocum Hollow”) totaling 9,615 to hold an election on August 13, 1878, for a new County.

The results of the 9,615 voting: 7,629 majority for the new county; 1,986 against.

On August 21, 1878, the Governor proclaimed Lackawanna the SIXTY-SEVENTH (67TH) COUNTY in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

Source: Lackawanna County Memorial Book, 1882

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