ABOUT NORTHSIDE LODGE
In June 1948, a group of Masons met in Brewer’s Garage on Haines Road in St. Petersburg for the purpose of exploring the possibilities of forming a new Lodge. At a second meeting on the following week, the Brethren signed the required paperwork and went forward to reqoest a dispensation to form a Lodge to named “Northside Lodge U.N.”
This request was forwarded to the Grand Master with the recommendation of Nitram Lodge No. 188 and the recommendation of the District Deputy Grand Master. On August 16, 1948, Grand Lodge convened in St. Petersburg for the purpose of putting Northside Lodge U. D. to work with Worshipful Joseph G. ‘Gus’ Stephens Sr. as Worshipful Master, Worshipful R. Ray Pyle as Senior Warden, and Brother John A.K. Fox as Junior Warden. One of the first things that Worshipful Brother Stephens did as Worshipful Master was appoint a committee to locate a place for the Lodge to meet. They secured permission to use the cafeteria of Lealman Junior High School to hold their meetings, but it didn’t take long for them to realize that this would not be good over the long term.
At Grand Lodge On April 20, 1949, Northside Lodge U.D. was found worthy and was granted a charter under the name of Northside Lodge No. 283. On May 21, 1949, the Lodge was duly chartered and the Officers were
regularly installed by the Grand Master, Most Worshipful A. Wayne Connors. A new committee was formed to locate a more permanent meeting place for the new Lodge and after several months, a meeting was held with Right Worshipful Virgil Hanks, the Superintendent-Administrator of the Masonic Home of Florida and an agreement was made to allow Northside Lodge No. 283 to hold its meetings in the Chapel or the Masonic Home.
In 1950, Right Worshipful Dan Partin, the new Superintendent-Administrator of the Masonic Home spoke with Worshipful R. Ray Pyle regarding an empty building that was available on the Masonic Home grounds that the Lodge could fix up for a Lodge hall. This was brought before the Lodge and it was agreed upon to fix up this building and prepare it for use as a Lodge hall. After several months and the donation of much time and labor from the members as well as the donation of material and equipment the Lodge moved to their new quarters in the spring of 1951.
The first four years in the new Lodge hall made it apparent that there was a need for some type of heating and cooling system to make the meetings more comfortable for the members. This problem was finally solved in 1955 with the donation of an air conditioner from Brother William F. McQueen, a member of Nitram Lodge No. 188 and partner in Anderson-McQueen funeral home.
Another item of interest found in the minutes of the Lodge was the election of the first dual member into the Lodge. He was Most Worshipful Frances P. Morton, Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of New Jersey, who affiliated as a dual member in 1953, and was extremely active with Northside Lodge as part of the group of Brothers who assisted with Funeral services and other activities where needed.
In 1956, Jack Hardy was elected and installed as Worshipful Master of the Lodge. Brother Hardy was the last Charter member to serve this Lodge as Worshipful Master and was the first member to be appointed as a District Deputy Grand Master, serving as such in 1959. Right Worshipful Jack Hardy was known through out the Grand Lodge of Florida for his service as Superintendent/ Administrator of the Masonic Home of Florida, having served in that capacity for 23 years.
In 1968, Northside Lodge was informed that there was the need for the Masonic Borne to build a Nursing Center to assist in caring for the elderly residents in the Masonic Home and the area that they would need to build on was exactly where the Lodge building was located. Letters were sent to the Grand Master and after several months a resolution was prepared and presented to Grand Lodge at the 1969 session to allow Northside Lodge No. 283 to erect a Masonic Temple on a certain portion of land located on the grounds of the Masonic Home. The resolution was passed and during the summer of 1969, construction was started on the current Masonic Temple.
In April 1970, the first meeting was held in the new Masonic Temple of Northside Lodge No. 283. The Brethren of Northside Lodge have been most grateful to the Masonic Home of Florida and Grand Lodge for the privilege of being located on the Masonic Home grounds and many of the residents of the Masonic Home have found a Masonic Lodge that they can be an active part of while living away from their home Lodges. Several members of the Masonic Home have been granted Honorary Memberships in Northside Lodge as a tribute to their support.
In 1999, Northside Lodge No. 283 celebrated its 50th Anniversary with an elaborate dinner attended by the Grand Master and other Grand Lodge officers. A special lapel pin was made and given to every member of the Lodge in commemoration of this milestone in the life of Northside Lodge and all who attended the anniversary celebration received a special long stemmed water goblet as a memorial of this event.
Late in the fall of 2000, the Lodge was approached by another Lodge regarding the possibility of that Lodge merging with Northside Lodge and after due thought and consideration and upon approval of the membership of both Lodges, Sunshine Lodge No. 288 merged with Northside Lodge No. 283 on January 15, 2001.
While it is always a sad occasion to see a Lodge cease to exist, the merger has strengthened Northside Lodge with an influx of new members and has created a spark that seems to have awakened the members to the need to bring in new candidates for the degrees.