Freemasonry was first established in Framingham in the 1795 when a Charter bearing the honored name of Paul revere, was granted to Jonathan Maynard, Peter Clayes, Thomas Nixon, John Nixon, Samuel Frost, Barzillai Banister, Andrew Brown, Benjamin Champney, Thomas Buckland, Winslow Corbit and Samuel Haven, and they were constituted a Lodge to be known as Middlesex Lodge. Jonathan Maynard, the first Worshipful Master, was a gallant revolutionary soldier. April 24, 1775, while he was a student at Harvard, he enlisted in the army and on June 17, was at the battle of Bunker Hill.
The building of the Boston and Worcester Railroad through South Framingham in 1834 caused a great change in the business aspects of the town. South Framingham at that time was but a crossroads, with a blacksmith shop, a small country store and a tavern. Framingham was, on the contrary, the most important place between Boston and Worcester. It had three or four hotels, the Framingham Bank had just been opened, there were several stores and churches and it seemed as though, as a business centre, it was secure, and for some years it held its own. But the Fates were against it. The stages between Boston and Worcester that use to stop there for dinner and to change horses were withdrawn and gradually business began to center in South Framingham. During the 40 years following the opening of the railroad, a vast change took place.
This change not only affected the business situation but the social and fraternal, and the composition of Middlesex Lodge of Masons did not escape this great change. From 1860 to 1875, much of the larger part of the additions to the Lodge were from South Framingham. As South Framingham increased in size and importance and the Centre village decreased, the younger and more progressive element in the Lodge advocated its removal to the larger growing village. A majority of the Lodge did not think this wise, and the attempt was abandoned.
Among the recent settlers in South Framingham were the many Freemasons from other Lodges. Having permanently located here, being cut off from the privileges of their home Lodges and having no attachment for Middlesex Lodge, they began to inquire "Why not have a new Lodge here?" This feeling culminated in the summer of 1875 in the presentation to the Most Worshipful Grand Master a petition for a Dispensation, praying to be congregated into a regular Lodge in the part of Framingham called South Framingham.
This petition was favorably received and Most Worshipful Grand Master Percival Lowell Everett granted the Dispensation. Prior to the granting of this Dispensation several meetings were held by the petitioners to arrange minor details, particularly, to decide upon a name for the new Lodge. This, in fact, caused more discussion than all other things combined, connected with the preliminary arrangements. Almost as many names were proposed as there were petitioners. It seemed to be of as much importance as the naming of the first baby in the family. Many ballots were taken before an agreement was reached.
Finally Dr. E. L. Warren proposed the name "Alpha." It was at once favorably received and the next ballot showed a large majority in its favor. It was at once unanimously adopted. The lodge was first opened as a Masonic Lodge on October 5, 1875. On October 19 it was reported that they had engaged Irving Hall as a regular meeting place. On November 16, the Lodge received the first applications for the degrees of Freemasonry. During the year in which the Lodge worked under the Dispensation, nine candidates were admitted. On November 13, 1876, the Charter members of Alpha Lodge assembled in the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge in Boston where Alpha Lodge was constituted into a regular Lodge and the officers were installed. Their first meeting was on November 14, 1876.
On January 1, 1877, Alpha Lodge leased Odd Fellows Hall from the Independent Order of Odd Fellows (I.O.O.F.). In 1883, the lease with the I.O.O.F. ended and from February until June of 1883 the lodge met in Bethany church [Location] until a lease was procured with Liberty Hall [Location]. The Lodge, however, returned to the I.O.O.F. Hall in 1885. Although the Lodge had discussed procuring a building under its sole control, it didn't materialize until April 22, 1890, at which time the members voted to lease a building owned by Mr. Joshua Smith who had recently erected a block (Smith Block) on the corner of Waverly Street and Irving Square. A 3-year lease was signed in July of 1890, and the Lodge was subsequently subleased to several other organizations: Plymouth Rock Council, No. 37 O. U. A. M. (Order of the United American Mechanics); Netus Tribe, I. O. R. M. (The Improved Order of Red Men); Wauneta Council, No. 29, Degree of Pocahontas, I. O. R. M.; Concord Royal Arch Chapter; and Order of the Eastern Star, Orient Chapter, No. 31 (an organization that still meets in the same building as Alpha Lodge today). In 1893, Alpha Lodge, along with its subtenants Concord Royal Arch Chapter and Orient Chapter, No. 31, and Order of the Eastern Star moved to the Manson Building Co. [Location]
June 22, 1896, proved to be Alpha Lodge's largest meeting up until then. The Lodge raised five candidates, and the following Lodges were represented: Middlesex, John Warren, Mt. Hollis, Meridian, Montgomery of Milford, Siloam, United Brethren, Montacute and Morning Star of Worcester, Pentucket and William North of Lowell, King Cyrus of Stoneham, St. John's of Newburyport, Warren of Amesbury, Corinthian of Concord, Trinity of Clinton, Belmont of Belmont, Hayden of Brookfield, St. John's of Dayton, Ohio, Doric of New York, Union of New London, Connecticut, Olive Branch of Chester, Vermont, Mount Moriah of Vermont, Constantia of Chicago, Illinois, Union of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Prince of Wales of Milton, Nova Scotia, and Blazing Star and St. Andrews of Scotland.
On June 24, 1900, Alpha Lodge celebrated its 25th anniversary. The members met at the Lodge room, and in company with members of Middlesex Lodge and others, 190 in all, marched to Grace church [Locations] occupying seats in the front and center of the church, and behind them were about seventy five ladies of Orient Chapter. The remainder of the church to the last seat was occupied by friends. The Tuesday evening following, the members with their families to the number of more than 200, assembled at the Lodge room, and for an hour and a half there would be delightful entertainment furnished by the Apollo Quartette, after which light refreshments were served, and the remainder of the evening until midnight was spent socially and dancing in Malta Hall adjoining. The whole affair was a fitting culmination of a delightful celebration of our Silver anniversary.
On December 23, 1907, the lodge discussed installing its first telephone in the hall's anteroom. In March of 1909 Alpha Lodge again discussed erecting their own hall or leasing another. In October of 1909, it was agreed that the Lodge could lease its present quarters for ten years, and they voted to do just that.
February 28, 1910, the writer of this history, Edgar Potter, was elected historian of the Lodge and requested to prepare a history of the Lodge for the first thirty-five years of its life and to have it ready for publication and distribution at the thirty-fifth anniversary of the constitution of the Lodge, Nov. 13, 1911. In the twenty-one years during which the writer served as Secretary of Alpha Lodge he saw it grow from a membership of eighty-eight to two hundred and forty-eight and become one of the large and prosperous Lodges of the state. When he became Secretary the Lodge was a tenant of another organization; now it had rooms equal to any, with full control, and its tenants only co-ordinate branches of the same great Brotherhood. He saw the noble work which the Lodge performed in binding more closely the bonds of friendship, and brotherly love, the growth of the three great cardinal virtues, Faith, Hope and Charity.
Freemasonry is not, as some have intimated, a system of religion, neither is it designated to take the place of the church, but it has the handmade of religion and of those civic organizations which have for their object the elevation and betterment of mankind. It is not a reformatory institution and yet all its teachings are for the making of better men, better citizens, better husbands and fathers. The oldest of fraternal orders, it stands pre-eminent as the one whose origin is lost in the mists of the past. It has withstood the opposition and the vituperation of the ignorant and bigoted, and never stood brighter as a great moral and charitable institution than it does to-day.
It is the pioneer of all great fraternal organizations of the world. Eschewing parties and politics of every name and nature, it stands forth as a great moral force reaching to every part of the civilized world. It does no proselyting; it urges no man to become a Mason. All who enter its portals enter of their "own free will and accord," but when a man is once within its doors, it expects a full performance of those duties inculcated in its obligation, and its time honored ritual. It does not advertise its benefactions but quietly and unostentatiously performs its mission, carefully and judiciously carrying out the Scriptural injunction. "Let not thy right hand know what thy left hand doeth."
In 1955, Alpha Lodge, Middlesex Lodge, Concord Royal Arch Chapter, Orient Chapter O.E.S. Framingham Chapter, Order of Demolay for Boys and Rainbow Assembly for Girls moved to its present location at 404 Concord Street.
Excerpt from "History of Alpha Lodge," by Wor. Edgar Potter, Past Master and Secretary of Alpha Lodge