Bearing the proud name of one of our great presidents and Masons, our 25th President, William McKinley, a group of Brethren, mostly consisting of members of Shakespeare Lode petitioned Grand Lodge to form their own Lodge. The first meeting of William McKinley Lodge No. 840 was held on July 24, 1902, upon receiving its dispensation. The charter was issued on May 7, 1903. Whereas only 23 charter members conceived our Lodge, future meeting were held in grandiose locations and with style, with its rapid and strong growth eventually to more than 500 members. Early meetings presided at the Grand Opera House on 23rd Street with other communications actually held at Carnegie Hall. We continued there until September of 1926, upon completion of our own Masonic Temple on 55th street. Nine years hence, changing times and conditions compelled our move to join many Lodges at Masonic Hall at 71 West 23rd st. and meetings were held in the beautiful American Room.
We are most proud to state that William McKinley Lodge No. 840 personified Masonic Charity at its finest. A continuous stream of deeds and service to the Craft and to its fellow man were well renown. The social occasions held by our Lodge established many precedents within the district. These events varied from theater parties, sporting events and summer weekend pilgrimages. A grand time was had by all and the support for these events grew steadily, resulting in tremendous funds available for relief and charity, both within the Lodge andaround the world. The weekend pilgrimages began in 1934, and became a yearlyfixture to look forward to. These parties and fundraisers became examples to becopied by other Lodges in and outside of the district.
Success breeds success,leading to the establishment in our Lodge of two special endowments, theWilliam McKinley Charity Fund and the Henry Fendell Brotherhood Fund.Conceived on May 11, 1948 for worthy charitable needs, and funded by partiesand affairs, governed by special committee, Mrs. Betty Fendell began thecontributions in the memory of her late husband, and our Brother, Henry Fendell.With this fund, loans could be made without interest and on a voluntaryrepayment basis, according to ability.The charitable donations of William McKinley Lodge are a true testamentto Masonry.
In the summer of 1948, we presented a complete mobile x-ray unit tothe Tel-Litwinsky Hospital in Tel-Aviv, Israel. Also, in 1950, two fully equippeddental units and offices were presented to Dr. Lewin Epstein of the DentalAssociation in Jerusalem for the treatment of indigent persons.
In 1949, theresearch department of Lectworth Village in Rockland County was the recipient of a complete research laboratory, for the assistance of the mental hygiene of the mentally deficient children of New York State. Within the same year, in an effort to assist post WWII Europe, 60,000 pounds of various foods were contributed to the Displaced Persons Camps of Europe via the American Joint Distribution Committee. The following year, another bequest was presented Dr. Abraham Sachar, president of Brandeis University, which established ‘The William McKinley Lodge No. 840 Guest Room’ at the University.