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Brief Lodge History

By Robert Dewell

Other than one or two local churches, Baraboo Lodge # 34, F. & A. M., is probably the oldest organization in Baraboo. The Lodge received its dispensation in 1851, and was chartered on June 8, 1852 with Col. James Maxwell serving as its first Master. In 2002 we will celebrate 150 years of Masonry in the Baraboo Area.

This is an enviable record of achievement for an organization, for the Lodge in its day survived the Civil war, when so many local men were called or volunteered to military service. The Lodge was strengthened with the arrival of the railroad in 1871, many railroad men being Masons, and also by the fabled Ringling Brothers, who at one meeting in April of 1891, occupied the six principal officers’ chairs.

The Lodge first met in the Stanley building at 119 Third Avenue. Later a fine building was dedicated on the NW corner of Oak and Second Avenue on April 27, 1892. It burned on Feb. 2, 1957, and on December 12, 1959 the present temple was dedicated.

World War I, and World War II, both presented challenges for the Lodge, as most of the men from the community were drafted into service; and the conflicts in Korea and Vietnam both presented a decrease in membership due to the same policy.

In 1996, the Lodge succeeded in raising the largest number of new members in the State of Wisconsin - twenty new Masons! It was a State Record which every Officer and Member of Baraboo Lodge No. 34 took great pride in accomplishing. The Lodge remains strong and steadfast, but as always, additional participation by the brothers strengthens the Brotherhood of Masonry.

The year 2002 presents us with great pride in looking back on our legacy. The year also presents great challenges. We need to continue growing, but we also need to focus on recommitting ourselves to our God, our Country, our Family and our Community.