ABOUT CORPUS CHRISTI LODGE NO. 189
"Making Good Men Better."
Our Lodge, the Corpus Christi Masonic Lodge 189 AF & AM, is a subordinate lodge of the Grand Lodge of Texas AF & AM and is one of five such lodges located in the City of Corpus Christi. Our lodge is referred to as a Symbolic Lodge or more commonly as a Blue Lodge, hence one of the significances of the use of shades of blue in the lodge decorum and throughout this website.
The Blue Lodge is the fundamental body of Freemasonry. No other part of Masonry is accessible until one has received the three degrees of Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft, and Master Mason given in the Blue Lodge. Information on the appending bodies of Freemasonry and their Degrees can be found by visiting the Archives and Masonic Links sections of this site
The first effort to establish a Masonic lodge in Corpus Christi was made by Col. Henry L. Kinney (generally acknowledged as the founder of the city), William Mann, and John Hayes in a petition to the Grand Lodge of Texas early in 1844. A dispensation to form a lodge was duly granted, and Frontier Lodge No. 28 was officially chartered on February 12, 1845. That lodge was officially demised within a few years due to the absence of many of its members, who had joined Gen. Zachary Taylor’s army on its march to Mexico.
The Corpus Christi area was not a felicitous place in which to live during this period. Both Texas and Mexico laid claim the area between the Nueces and Rio Grande Rivers, but neither mounted any effective maintenance of law and order, so that banditry and cattle rustling flourished there. Indeed, Leander H. McNelly, the noted Texas Ranger Captain (himself a Mason) remarked on the hazards of ranching in the area as follows:
“I am willing to take a good many chances, but I certainly would not live on a stock ranch west of the Nueces River, at any point from the mouth of the Devil’s River to the mouth of the Rio Grande. I think that the risk is too great - so great that scarcely any compensation would pay for it. My position in command of a company of troops I do not consider half so hazardous as that of those men living on ranches.”
Historic Lodge No 189
Corpus Christi Lodge 189 AF & AM has been fortunate throughout its 150 years of existence to have among its members some of the most notable people in local history that have helped to shape our community. We hope to be able to honor them here sometime in the future.
Historic Texas Masons
Stephen F. Austin
William B. Travis
David G. Burnet
Mirabeau B. Lamar
Lorenzo de Zavala
Robert M. Williamson
Juan N. Sequin
R. E. B. Baylor
James K. Polk
James A. Garfield
William Howard Taft
Warren G. Harding
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Harry S. Truman
Lyndon B. Johnson (EA only)
Gerald R. Ford
A second attempt was made by returned members of the previous group in 1850, and although a dispensation for the purpose was granted, there is no record that such a lodge was ever officially chartered. A third petition dated September 28, 1854 was sent to the Grand Lodge, sponsored and recommended by Goliad Lodge No. 94. This resulted in the granting of a dispensation on October 19, 1854, and the installation of the first officers of Corpus Christi Lodge U.D. (under dispensation) with Lucius C. Clapton as Worshipful Master. (see list of Worshipful Masters.)
The dispensation was renewed in 1856, and a petition for a charter was submitted to the Grand Lodge on December 2, 1856. A charter was issued at the Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge on January 23, 1857 and Corpus Christi Lodge was assigned the number 189 and placed in Masonic District 14. Thomas B. Buchanan served as its initial Worshipful Master. The lodge met on the first Monday of each month, and annual dues were set at $4, payable quarterly. It met in a building (location unknown) rented from one of its members, Bro. Ed Ohler. The population of Corpus Christi was given at that time as “over 400 families,“ while the lodge membership stood at 36 Master Masons, with another 9 Entered Apprentice and Fellow Craft Masons learning their initiatory work.
In 1860 the lodge moved to the second floor of another building owned by Bro. Ohler, located at the corner of William and Mesquite Streets, where they paid an annual rental of $144, while sub-leasing the ground floor for $50/year. The Civil War disrupted normal lodge activity during the early 1860s, and the membership voted in August of 1862 to suspend meetings until December. In fact, it was March of 1866 before they were able to resume meeting.
A campaign was begun at once to construct a new lodge building, and property on William Street was purchased in November of 1866. The new building was dedicated in November of 1869. It was the home of Corpus Christi Lodge No. 189 for nearly 50 years. In late 1913 a campaign was undertaken for the construction of a new lodge building. The property on William Street was sold, and property was purchased on Chaparral Street. The cornerstone for the new building was laid in September of 1914, and the first meeting held in it on January 4, 1916.
The Lodge building was severely damaged by the devastating hurricane which hit Corpus Christi on September 14, 1919. The building was repaired, and meetings continued to be held there for a further 43 years, though the Lodge was 25 years in paying off the cost of repairs. During the years of the Great Depression in the 1930s many members had to be suspended for non-payment of dues, while others were carried as delinquent or in arrears. The outlook began to slowly improve, so that by 1936 membership stood at 267 and a period of remarkable growth began. Over the following 15 years the net gain in membership only twice fell below 20, and reached a peak of 94 in 1947. The lodge reached its peak membership of 1,020 appropriately enough in 1957, the year of its Centennial celebration. Grand Master Paul Turney of the Grand Lodge of Texas was present on March 23 of that year to help the lodge celebrate its first one hundred years with dinner, music, and addresses by several dignitaries. During its first century the lodge watched the City of Corpus Christi grow from 698 to 166,000 and its own membership from 36 to over 1,000.
In the early 1960s a campaign was begun to construct a new Masonic Hall, and its present facility at 4114 Weber Road was occupied in January and dedicated in August of 1962. On March 23 of 2007, the lodge celebrated its Sesquicentennial, with Grand Master Donny W. Broughton of the Grand Lodge of Texas attending. Corpus Christi Mayor Henry Garrett, a member of Lodge 189, presented the Grand Master with the Key to the City. During its second 50 years the lodge saw the population of the city rise to more than 285,000, and Masonic membership in the city still at approximately 1,000, now divided among five chartered lodges within the city.
Through the years, the lodge has continued an active program in support of numerous community organizations, particularly in the field of education. In 1992 the lodge began participating in Adopt-a-School program, distributing winter clothing annually to 20 to 30 needy children at Crockett Elementary School. Members have also participated in the TAKE-TIME-TO-READ program there, both by regular reading sessions and the contribution of books to the school library. In addition to the funding of an annual scholarship at Del Mar College, the lodge each year presents one or more graduating High School students with college scholarships and the Lamar Medal and Award for Personal Achievement.