May 11, 2004 > Centerville Lodges
The first fraternal order in Washington Township was the Sons of Temperance organized in the office of Reverend William Wallace Brier in June 1855. Meetings of the order were held in William Ogden's small Centerville Hotel.
Alameda Lodge No. 167, F and A. M. was opened September 9, 1863 by fraternal brothers James Beazell, Perry Morrison, Samuel I. Marston, Thomas Scott, G. H. Ellsworth, G. M. Kutz and A. J. McDavid. The lodge received its charter October 13, 1864. J. T. Walker and Howard Overacker were the first candidates to be initiated. Howard donated an acre from his farm on Niles Road as a site for a lodge building.
Two seafaring brothers landed lumber on a point about one mile southwest of Alvarado and hauled it by oxen to the building site. Each lodge brother contributed labor and tools to erect a two-story structure. The lower floor was fitted with several bunks and a pantry to assist members who were marooned by heavy rains and unable to return to their homes. A winding stairway illuminated by a brass lantern led to the meeting room on the second floor. Horses and buggies were kept in sheds at the rear of the building.
The lower room served as a banquet hall when needed. The lodge held a great ball and supper February 20, 1866 which was pronounced at the time as the most brilliant social event ever given in the valley. This lower floor was later rented to provide funds for the lodge. The tenants helped finish the first floor and rental fees helped with improvements such as paint and lamps.
Trustees of Union High School No. 2 rented the lower floor and fitted the main room for classes which began January 11, 1892. The five foot wide front entrance hall had seats at one end and a small zinc-lined box with a faucet and drain pipe for a laboratory. William Wentworth and Guliema Crocker taught classes here until March 1893.
When school resumed in August 1893 the Hall was overflowing with students, so trustees rushed to construct a high school building. Construction was completed in spite of the wet winter and school was moved from the Masonic Hall to the new high school in March 1893.
Lodge members decided in 1910 to sell the property and construct a new hall on Centerville's main street. Gifts and loans by members helped finance the new building which was completed in 1914. The Alameda Lodge gave up their original hall and moved to their new Masonic Temple at 37419 Main Street.
The old Masonic Hall served as a residence and even a church over the years. It was demolished to make room for the Fremont Memorial Chapel Mortuary in 1963, the year Alameda Lodge celebrated its 100th anniversary. Officials dedicated a plaque in 1976 to mark the site of the original Alameda Masonic Lodge and the first high school in Washington Township.
Alameda Lodge grew from the original seven members to over 350 by 1969. The lodge had only 56 masters in its first 84 years. Membership grew so rapidly in the 1960's that members made plans to construct a larger temple.
A charter of the Order of the Eastern Star was organized in Masonic Hall in 1899. The Chapter had nearly 100 members by 1904.
Gemini Lodge No. 825 received its charter in 1967 with 27 members and grew to 56 by 1969. They also held their meetings in the Masonic Temple.
Centerville had a number of other lodges and a strong fraternal spirit. Eight societies were described as active in 1903. U. P. E. C. No. 5, established in 1888, was a strong Portuguese society with 284 members, the largest representation in Washington Township. There were at least three other Portuguese societies in town. Maple Camp No. 146, Woodmen of the World, had a membership of 117.
The History of Washington Township listed nine organizations in the Centerville area. Many other township organizations met in this "Center Town". Four of these were Portuguese societies.
Alameda Lodge No. 167, Free & Accepted Masons, continues its fraternal tradition in Washington Township during this, its one hundred and forty-first year. Its two hundred and twenty-eight members support local public schools and provide Child I.D. programs to assist parents by supplying identifying information for their children to local authorities in time of need. The Masonic Fraternity also actively supports the local Rainbow Assembly for Girls and the Job's Daughters Bethel. Adult members of Eastern Star also meet monthly in the Masonic Center on Fremont Boulevard.
Today the largest lodge in Centerville is still the Masonic Lodge with a membership of over 200. Fremont Lodge No. 825 also uses the Masonic building. Centerville still has three Portuguese societies, SPRSI Council No. 4, UPPEC Council No. 19 and UPEC Council No. 5 which meets with Newark. This lodge has about 100 members. Fifteen Portuguese Fraternal Councils remain active in the Tri-City area.