You are invited to turn back the calendar to the year 1873 and view Metuchen as it was at the time Mt. Zion Lodge was formed. It was a small village of fewer than 200 homes and had neither paved streets nor sidewalks. At that time there were 11 stores and 5 churches to serve a population of about 1500 people.
As travel to neighboring towns was a wearisome task, the Masons in town felt’ they should establish their own Lodge. From a History of Americus Lodge No. 83 of Woodbridge, N.J. it was learned that in 1873 Bros. Erastus H. Tappen, William Van Siclen, Thomas W. Acken, James W. Moses and others (not named) demitted from that Lodge and assisted in organizing a new Lodge. Thus Americus Lodge No. 83 of Woodbridge, N.J. became the Mother Lodge of newly formed Mt. Zion Lodge No. 135 of Metuchen, N.J. Initially Bro. Tappen was Senior Warden of the new Lodge and in 1875 became Worshipful Master.
On March 6, 1873 this Lodge was set to work under dispensation of Right Worshipful Brother William E. Pembrook, Deputy Grand Master of the State at that time.
WARRANT OF CONSTITUTION
At the First Regular Communication of Mount Zion Lodge No. 135, held on January 29, 1874, the Most Worshipful Grand Master, William E. Pembrook (who as Right Worshipful Deputy Grand Master had set the Lodge to work under dispensation), attended with other Officers of the Grand Lodge. At this time he presented the Lodge with a Warrant dated January 22, 1874, issued by the Grand Lodge of the Most Ancient and Honorable Society of Free and Accepted Masons for the State of New Jersey, designating the Lodge as No. 135. The Grand Master then installed the following brothers as the first Officers of the Lodge:
Joseph L. Moss,
Sr. Worshipful Master
Erastus H. Tappen
R. Bruce Crowell
George H. Mead
Edgar L. Pierson
Alvin M. Whittier
Thomas N. Ackens
Senior Master of Ceremonies
Joseph L. Moss,
Jr. Junior Master of Ceremonies
Abraham V. N. DeForrest
Henry C. Ayers
MEETING PLACES OF THE LODGE
Considerable effort has been made to determine the meeting places of the Lodge during the first year. According to word of mouth, the Lodge moved from pillar to post. It was said the Lodge occupied the Hunt Building located at Lake Ave. and Holly St., a site later used for a number of years by the American Legion. Some of the meetings in the early days were also held in the Robinson Building at Amboy Ave. and Main St. and it was thought some were held at our Mother Lodge, the Americus Lodge in Woodbridge, N.J. During my investigation, the Grand Lodge informed me by letter dated December 11, 1948, in reply to my inquiry, that their records did not disclose meeting places but merely dates meetings were held in the Lodge.
Miss Emily Kelly, a close relative of George Greason, told me this story, Brother George Greason, one of our charter members owned the three story frame building still standing on the West side of Main Street, No. 433. Brother Greason rented the third floor to Mt. Zion Lodge. Brother Greason and his family lived at “Red Top” which is opposite “Oak Hills” on Plainfield Avenue. Brother Greason was sick in bed and watched the lights go on in the Lodge. This was the evening of March 6, 1873. Brother Greason passed away March 11, 1873 and a Special Meeting was called March 12, 1873 for the purpose of conducting the funeral services. Our only records show payments made to Mrs. Greason for rental of the Lodge Hall. Mrs. Greason sold this property in 1884 to Alexander Kelly. It was later called the Kelly Building.
The following was copied from the New Brunswick Weekly Freedonia (now New Brunswick Home News) Thursday, March 13, 1873. “On Thursday Evening the sixth Instant, the new ‘ Free Mason’s Hall’ in Reason Block was opened with all honors ‑Were it right to proclaim ‘the secrets’ I would tell you of the grandeur of ‘the East,’ the glitter of the ‘altar’ and the mysterious ‘work’ that preceded the ‘repast’, and the very unmysterious and natural work that followed. As it is, however, you must be content to know that all the ‘brothers’ reported themselves that no ‘gridiron’ was on hand except for culinary purposes and that the only trouble experienced was from the fact that the ‘Tyler’ was somewhat in danger from the members with signs and pass words. All ‘OK’ solicited his attention and demanded admission. It is not accurately ascertained whether the hour of adjournment was on Thursday Night or Friday morning, in fact that very item is one of the secrets you know.”
The Lodge occupied the Reason Building for a very short time. In October 1873, a committee was given power to rent from Nat Robins his rooms for the use of the Lodge for a period of five years, at an annual rental of $200.00, provided he. would place partitions where needed. At a later meeting, Brother Robins stated that he could not rent the rooms for $200.00 per year as the plans were much more elaborate than anticipated, but that he would build partitions as per plans and fit up the Lodge Rooms for $225.00 per year for five years with privileges of ten years and this proposal was accepted. At the meeting of April 2, 1874, the above agreement was signed. This building is still standing on the West side of Main Street at number 401 and has always been known as “Robins Hall”. It is now owned and occupied by the Metuchen Hardware Company. The second floor of Robins Hall was a very busy place. Dances wore held there, school graduations, movies and plays by local talent.
The Lodge continued to meet in Robins Hall until 1908 when a lease was signed for a period of five years for Lodge Rooms on the third floor of the Metuchen Bank Building at 406-408 Main Street. This building is still standing in 1974 on the east side of Main St. and directly across the street from Robins Hall. The Lodge occupied its new rooms on April 9, 1908.
In 1927, the Trustees of the Lodge decided it would be advisable to own our own building. After a careful study it was decided to purchase the Metuchen Club. A deed was given to the Metuchen Masonic Building Association, Inc. This deed is Warranty, dated October 15, 1927, Recorded October 18, 1927 in Book of Deeds 899, page 85 in the Middlesex County Clerks Office. Since this purchase, a few parcels have been sold as the Lodge, at that time, did not need so much property. The first meeting was held in our own building, Sept. 8, 1927.
The Metuchen Social Club, as it was called, was extremely active for a number of years. Metuchen was known for its social activities, its dances and receptions, and its many amateur plays. Persons of prominence were members of this club.