Helping Good Men Become Better
Chester 94 History
provided by Rt. Wor. Moring E. Gravitt

On December 15, 1877, a committee composed of eight Masons from the area of Winterpock, Virginia in Chesterfield County petitioned the Grand Lodge of Virginia to form a lodge in that locality. Three of these men were from Midlothian Lodge#211, two were members of Chesterfield Lodge #161, two from Fraternal Lodge #53 and one was from St. Johns #36, both in Richmond. The Grand Lodge of Virginia granted a dispensation on March 13, 1878 to form the Winterpock Lodge. A dispensation is a temporary permit to hold meetings under sanction of the Grand Lodge of Virginia. Meetings were held under this dispensation from March 13, 1878 until December 10, 1878. At that time, the Winterpock Lodge was granted a charter and with it the permission to use the number ninety-four. Winterpock was the third Lodge to hold that number. The first was the Prince Edward Providence Lodge chartered in 1812 and the second was Greenway Court House Lodge, chartered in 1853. Both of which failed.

Meetings of Winterpock #94 were held in a building located where the County dumpsters are currently located. During that time a railroad track ran near the crossroads. The rails were removed and shipped to France during the US World War Two efforts. Coal mining was a major industry for that area and period of time. On January 17, 1878 the members agreed to move the Lodge meetings from Winterpock to Chester, a major terminal on the North-South Rail Route. A committee was appointed to find a suitable meeting hall in Chester and on February 14, 1878, they reported to the Lodge that they had secured a meeting place in Chester. The hall was located at the dead end of Gill Street, adjacent to the railroad tracks and within walking distance of the Chester Railroad Station.

Many older Masonic Lodge halls were located near this important mode of travel.During this era, Masonic Lodge meetings were often held on or near the full moon to allow for better travel at night. Chester held its meetings on the Thursday evening nearest the full moon until March 20, 1924.In a 1889 report, from the District Deputy Grand Master, RT. Worshipful Brother Clopton, to the Grand Lodge of Virginia, stated "The decline in membership of #94 and #211 is not to be attributed to any want of love for Masonry, but to the fact that the lodges are located in two coal mining villages, of Midlothian and Winterpock, in both of which the work has been stopped, and the population of both has been greatly diminished". It is interesting to note that today, more than 100 years later these two lodges are the strongest and healthiest in the district.Attending the first meeting of Winterpock Lodge, to be held in Chester, twenty members were present. Chester Lodge today has approximately two hundred and sixty members.
A time-honored tradition of the Masonic order is the public laying of cornerstones for public buildings in a dignified ceremony. On October 28, 1890 Chester Lodge members laid the cornerstone of Arrowfield Methodist Church. This building was demolished in 1964 and the new Ivey Memorial Methodist church building was built in the site. The original cornerstone was placed in the churchyard and newly inscribed: ORIGINAL CORNORSTONE IVY MEMORIAL METHODIST CHURCH BUILT 1890

On October 17, 1905 a cornerstone was laid with Masonic Honors for a new Hall to be used by the Winterpock group which had been renamed CHESTER LODGE #94 by the group in June of 1895. A Lodge committee had secured the new site at 411 Dodomeade Street in 1904. The old meeting hall on Gill Street was only recently torn down. Other cornerstones laid by Chester Masons include the Beulah Methodist Church on June 16, 1892. The Third district Agricultural High School on June 30, 1910. The Sherborn Methodist Church on September 1, 1927. The Chester Baptist Church on September 24, 1942. The Chester Red Cross Building on May 19, 1942. Kingsland Baptist on September 6, 1956 and Chester Presbyterian on February 26, 1956. The cornerstone for the Chesterfield County Courthouse office building was laid on February 15, 1958. And finally, the Chester Baptist Sanctuary cornerstone was laid on May 7, 1960.

From the humble beginning in the coalfields at Winterpock to its place of prominence today, Chester #94 has seen many men pass through it portals. Most men, with few exceptions, have honesty and a devotion to God, first and foremost in their mind. These men have come from all walks of life.

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