Virginia Lodge No. 177
A. F. & A. M.
Chartered December 15, 1858
31st Masonic District
"LODGE ON THE BRINK"
Virginia Lodge No. 177 received its Charter on December 15, 1858 and that's where this story officially begins, but let's skip a few years forward to 1905. This small Lodge located at Cabin Point was going strong. The Lodge was prospering and the members were enjoying their fellowship and meetings. Wanting to share their fellowship their experiences, this group of fellows decided to form a "Sister Lodge" across the river in the Charles City area, so the men of that region could have their own Lodge, where good men could gather in peace and harmony.
So it began and after working at their jobs all day, performing hard labor, they would gather down at the river, form rowing teams and row across the James River to the other side. Once there, they would mount horses or get in a wagon and make their way to what is now called Mann Page Lodge No. 157. Because of these selfless and committed Masons, Mann Page Lodge, which is today located in Providence Forge, is alive and well. These tireless Brethren went far above and beyond in their guest to further the Craft and that's where the story of "A Lodge on the Brink" begins.
It was only a couple of years ago that Virginia Lodge No. 177 found itself in the precarious position of being considered no longer viable and there were even those who wanted to hand the Charter back to the Grand Lodge of Virginia. Several members demitted because they thought the Lodge was finally finished and would be closed. This was because of a lack of membership growth and non-participation by the current members. But, how could this be happening? Through no fault of their own, Lodges in smaller areas are no longer considered a centerpiece in the life of the community. At one time, the Masonic Lodge was one of the three greatest influences in a man's life and living. GOD, Family, and the Masonic Lodge were a constant and continuing support for a man as he carried on with his life.
It's not unusual these days for a Lodge to suffer, not from a lack of commitment from its members, but from a lack of new membership. Many men have the idea that they don't have the time and are too busy and hurried to become familiar with Masonry and what it has to offer. But, it is men with the character of those early pioneers in Masonry that can change that perception and bring the Craft back from the brink.
A few members, who considered Virginia Lodge No. 177 their home, were unwilling to let the Lodge falter and die. They vowed to save it from that certain fate that awaits "A Lodge on the Brink". Of course there were those who considered the loss of the Charter a certainty gave up and considered it lost. But, those few, who refused to give in, those men who showed the character and love for their Lodge that our Brethren of old had shown so many years ago, made a commitment to rebuild the Lodge to its former stature. And today, Virginia Lodge No. 177, the Lodge that had less than 20 members just a short time ago, at the writing of this story has 24 Life Members in Perpetuity. The Lodge has a total membership of more than 80 committed members who continue to care for and love their Lodge. And those members who once thought the Lodge was done for are now coming back and expressing their thanks to those who worked to save the Lodge and in the spirit of brotherly love and understanding, are being welcomed with open arms.
In the years following Wor. Nicols' last year as master, a group of masons from Tidewater Virginia traveled to Claremont in support of the little lodge. Many served as Worshipful Master, officers and helped to keep Virginia Lodge alive. One of those brothers Robert P. Anderson, Sr. followed Wor. Nicol as Master in 1980 and has continued to support the lodge. Visit 177 on any stated for "Andy's Gourmet" supper.
In the year of 1999, Virginia Lodge Number 177, because of in-activity and lack of participation was on the verge of surrendering it's Charter dated (1858) which was before the war between the states. Twenty plus Brethren on the other side of the James River when finding this out and realizing it was the Mother Lodge of Mann-Page Lodge Number 157 came together and became affiliated members and with the able assistance of R.W. Emmett S. King, Sr. , who was twice a Past. Master of Virginia 177 and a Past Dist. Deputy Grand Master of District 31 resurrected this Masonic landmark.
This 150th Anniversary Year 2008 found this Lodge flourishing with eighty plus active members and with quite a few changes, such as new heating and air-conditioning, new Lodge furnishings, new windows and other beautiful additions.
This story should serve as a reminder that even in this modern time, when most people are too busy to give a second thought to their fellow man, much can be accomplished when good men gather and serve with a purpose. Such was the case here.
There stepped to the fore, a group of dedicated Masons who again showed the spirit, fellowship and love of the Craft. These men, and they know who they are, for no purpose other than to see the Lodge that gave them their beginning become viable again, began an effort to revive and save Virginia Lodge No. 177 and were more successful than even they could have imagined.
If you are wondering how this was accomplished, the dedicated members hold Bar-B-Q sale, Apple Butter sales, Sausage sales (all these are made by the members and sold to the public). To build membership, the Lodge has open house events including free lunches and other public events for the citizens of Claremont. We hold an annual "Christmas at Claremont" for the children of our community and our membership attends the local church service on Saint Johns Day to speak on Masonry and our fellowship. We donate to the local public library to purchase books. Becoming a part of the community again has led to an increase in membership and to growth in the Lodge. And with this continued commitment to the future, we the members of this Grand Old Lodge that began all those years ago in December 1858 invite you readers to visit us some day and enjoy the fellowship and brotherly love of "A Lodge on the Brink, NO MORE."
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