150 Years of Masonry in Arcata

First Arcata Masonic Lodge Building in 1866


Our first building on the N.E. corner of 11th and H Street, Arcata.

*Six Rivers Lodge was formed of two Sister Lodges, Arcata Lodge #106 and Semper Virens Lodge #552. These links are but a small part of their rich history. (see Origin of Six Rivers Lodge #106

Early in 1850, thirty or so settlers in the area north of Humboldt Bay formed a company to lay out and develop the town-site of Union.  Among them were a certain number of brethren with the conviction that the principles and teachings of Masonry are indispensable to the growth and welfare of any American community.  With this in mind, they formulated plans for the institution of a Masonic Lodge in the new settlement of Union.  In due time a Dispensation was granted by The Most Worshipful Grand Master William Howard on April 23, 1856; and on May 18, 1857 a Charter was granted to Arcata Lodge Number 106 at the 8th annual communication of the Grand Lodge of the State of California.  The men who formed this lodge were as follows:

B. Henry Wyman - Master

Issac Manheim - Senior Warden

John C. Bull - Junior Warden

Augustus Jacoby - Treasurer

Isreal Fleishman - Secretary

Frank W. Legg - Senior Deacon

Issac Culberg - Junior Deacon

Reason Wiley - Tyler

Members: J.R. Molony, W.H. Lake, I. Nixon, B. Northeimer, P.F. Parker, S.P. Siely, S. Sinsheimer, J. Strowbridge, J.C. Wilson 

Our Town

(this section is an excerpt from Wallace E. Elliot's - History of Humboldt, 1881)

 The name of "Arcata" was given to this place, formerly called Union, in March 1860.  The Times (local newspaper) of that date said:

"No name could be more appropriate for a village containing such a sociable and fun loving people than that of Union.  Some romantic people there about, ran away with the idea that "Arcata" is a legitimate digger word, and means "Union".  This is not correct.  It means a certain place in town where the diggers were once in the habit of congregating, which in our language would be about the same as "down there" or "over yonder".  To some, "union" may sound as sweet as any other name, but not so with us.  Therefore, other people may call it what they like, but we shall call it "Arcata".  Notwithstanding the opposition to the new name, it easily stuck fast and became popular."

 In 1854, Union had twelve or fourteen stores including saddle and harness makers, jewelers, gunsmiths, tin shop, and several blacksmith and wagon shops, all doing an active and lucrative business.  By 1855, there were four towns on Humboldt Bay; Humboldt, Bucksport, Eureka, and Union.  The first three boasted of one store each, while Union had seven large wholesale establishments doing a brisk trade with mines and gold fields in the neighboring county.

In 1856, Union was connected with the shipping channel by a plank road and rail track two miles long stretching south into Humboldt Bay, constructed by Union Wharf and Plank Walk Company.  This established one of the first railroads in the state; although its first "engine" was a white horse named "Spanking Fury".

Our First Building

(pictured at top of page)

 The Humboldt Times of February 25, 1866 carries the following article:

"The new two-story structure, 34' x 60' for the Arcata Masonic Lodge No. 106 F&AM, Anniversary Lodge No. 85, I.O.O.F., the Morning Star Division No. 196 of the Sons of Temperance and the town authorities of Arcata is now going up under the direction of contractors Dwyer & Kimbal.  The edifice will be of great service to the town"

The agreement between those four parties was recorded on July 21, 1865 and reads in part: "The upper floor to be occupied by the three Fraternal Lodges, with Arcata Town Hall to have possession of said ground floor for the sole and exclusive use and occupancy by them, their successors and assigns, forever."

The city conveyed the corner area by deed and contributed $500 to the building fund.  This was supplemented by $1,250 from the Masonic Lodge, $750 by the Odd Fellows, and $700 by the Sons of Temperence for a total of $3,200.

Our Second Building

Arcata Lodge #106 - NE corner of 9th and G Streets

N.E. corner of 9th and G Streets 

 After thirty years, all parties required larger quarters and by an agreement dated September 1, 1896; a new two-story structure was erected on the Murdock property.  The city occupied the ground floor, but only the Masons and Odd Fellows shared the second story; the Sons of Temperence having previously disbanded.  The two Fraternal Orders contribute 80% or $9,381.16, and the city $2,310.92, for a total of $11,692.08.  This amount included $600 ground cost of which $400 came from the Fraternal Orders.

Another 30 years passed and the three parties again needed more space.  In 1929 a two-story addition was added to the rear of the building at a cost of $34,000.  The Fraternal Orders contributed $18,000, and the city $16,000.  The Lodges assigned the ground floor to the city, again forever.  This agreement established the party interest to 50% to the city and 25% each for the Lodges.

While this work was in progress, the depression was taking its toll of employment and many tradesmen were out of work; the Fraternal Orders employed our local cabinetmakers and much of the original furniture was replaced using local black walnut.  These are still in use today, to the credit of our craftsmen.

The City of Arcata shared this building with us until 1966 when planning began for the construction of a new City Hall.  At this point, the Odd Fellows sold their interest to the city for $12,000 and purchased the Danish Hall at 1575 L Street.  It is of interest to note that the city had a Town Hall for 100 years at a total construction cost of $18,310.92; all tax-free under city code.

We continued our sharing with the city until 1970 when the city ordered the old building vacated for future demolition.  The city purchased our interest in the building for the established price of $12,000 and permitted us to remain until construction of a new building was completed in 1971.  The city allowed us to remove the electrical fixtures and many antiquities such as the original Lodge room oak doors, the old mantle fireplace, the marble washstands, stained glass windows and other fixtures installed by the Lodge over the years.


Our Current Building

Six Rivers Lodge #106 - taken Nov 2011

251 Bayside Road, Arcata

The search for a new building began in August of 1963 when the Lodge voted to form a Temple Association for the purpose of accumulating funds, acquiring property, and constructing a building.  The following committee was in charge of this formation: Tom T. Morgan, C. Winfield Blesdoe, Valentine F. Meyer, R. Denny Hess, and Frederick L. Graham.

This interim committee discharged its duties with our articles of incorporation on October 2, 1964 and the Arcata Masonic Temple Association, Non-Profit, was established.  The directorship was set at seven members; five elected from the floor of the lodge and supplemented each year by the Master and Senior Warden in office.

The first board of directors was elected at the Stated Meeting of December 7, 1964.  The following directors served various terms up to 1971 when the new building was completed:

George E. Knab, president 1964-1971
C. Winfield Bledsoe
Elmer J. Evans
Donald V. Hosterman
E. Byard Chamberlain
Wayne C. Graham
Richard Laustalot
George F. Davis
Kenneth L. Haywood
Paul F. Marshall
Merle A. Doggett
J. Robert Hensel
Elmer N. Miller
B. Lloyd Dolf
R. Denney Hess
Tom T. Morgan

The search for the Temple site ended with the purchase of two acres on a lovely knoll overlooking Humboldt Bay at 251 Bayside Road, Arcata.  The ground was most appropriate as it was part of the original estate of Brother M.P. Roberts Sr., one of our pioneer members and Master in 1892.

Neale B. Penfold & Associates were retained to draw the plans for a building of 6,050 square feet, and those plans were molded to fit the grounds.  Ground was broken on August 18, 1970, and the first Stated Meeting was held January 4, 1971 in the completed Lodge room.  This fast schedule was accomplished by dozens of brothers working diligently and unselfishly.

With limited finances, it became necessary to engage the services of a contractor for the construction of the main structure, to be supplemented by skilled workmen from within our own craft.  William Brundage of Arcata was contracted to erect a "shell building" to include grading the ground, concrete floor-slab, laminated beams, fir trusses, roofing, windows, outside doors, interior studded walls, and outside impregnated sheathing.  With the building closed in, our volunteer labor took over and completed the building.