It all began when Ionic Lodge No. 486, F. & A.Ml was organized. It’s first regular meeting was held at St. John’s Hall, 181 Bowery, New York, NY, on July 28,1859, by virtue of dispensation granted to nineteen Master Masons, all of whom, as appears from the records, had been members in good standing of Freeman Lodge No.3, hailing under the jurisdiction of a Grand Lodge, then, or previously known as St. John’s Grand Lodge. R:. W:. J. W. Timpson was authorized by R:. W:. John W. Simmons, Deputy Grand Master of the Ancient and Honorable Fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of New York, to preside at such a meeting.
A number of the members of Freeman Lodge No.3 were announced as desirous of being admitted and healed, which request was granted. The Lodge was thenceforth known as Ionic Lodge, D.D. and continued to meet at regular intervals, in the same place, until the June 14th following, with W:. Thomas M. Woods, as Master. The following extract from the minutes under the Date of June 14, 1860, are interesting in as much as it is one of the most convincing proofs that can be adduced in determining the date of its dedication, and of admittance into the Brotherhood of Lodges:
“This evening being set apart by the Grand Master for the consecration of this Lodge and the installation of its officers, R.·. W .’.Turner as proxy of the Grand Master, accompanied and assisted by a number of the Brethren, performed the required ceremony of consecration, R:. W:.H.C. Banks, D.D,G.M. and R.·. W.’.R. Macoy, D.D. G-.M. were announced and received grand honors. The officers were installed and the Grand Master announced that Ionic Lodge No. 486, F. & A.M. had been duly constituted and consecrated and its officers duly installed”.
The warrant is dated June 18, 1860, A.L. 5860, and bears the signatures of John W. Simmons, Grand Master: Finlay M. King, Deputy Grand Master; Clinton F. Paige, Senior Grand Warden; Stephen H. Johnson, Junipr Grand Warden, and James M. Austin, Grand Secretary, appointing, authorizing and empowering James W. Woods, to act as Master, Richard Hurley, as Senior Warden and James McCarthy, as Junior Warden of a Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons, to be distinguished by the name of Ionic Lodge No. 486.
The Lodge continued to meet at St. John’s Hall, 181 Bowery, New York, where its first meeting had been held on July 28, 1859. Thereafter, our meetings were held at various locales, including Odd Fellows Hall, comer of Grand and Centre Streets, May 10, 1861; at Brevoort Hall, 54th St., west of Third Avenue, on May 7, 1868: at Irwin’s Building, S.W. comer of Bleeker St. and Bowery, on May 13, 1869; at Odd Fellows Hall, April 22, 1880; at 295 Bowery, near Houston Street, on May 12, 1881 at Steuben House; at German Masonic Temple, 220 East
15th Street; at Masonic Hall, Sixth Avenue and 23rd Street, on September 23, 1901; Mecca Temple, 131 West 55th Street in 1924 and in 1934 back to its present quarters in the New Masonic Hall, Sixth Avenue and 23rd Street.
An event of the first magnitude came to pass when Brother Herman Stark was raised a Master Mason in Ionic Lodge on June 27, 1898. By force of his personal magnetism, he attracted men of all walks of life to the Lodge. It prospered and grew steadily in membership and renown throughout the entire Masonic Fraternity. Between the years 1919 and 1925,405 Brethren were raised Master Masons. Those were the golden days of the Lodge, with its stirring meetings, lavish and frequent social affairs, and its magnificent contributions to charity and close friendships that existed among the Brethren and with those from other districts. R:. W:. Herman Stark, also fondly called ‘Mr. Ionic’, was secretary for 35 consecutive years and left a permanent imprint upon the Lodge.
We take pride in the outstanding ritualistic work of the Lodge, which has been a hallmark throughout the past and present. On April 19, 1934, R.·. W..Henry G. Meacham, Grand Lecturer, assisted by the Assistant Grand Lecturers of Manhattan conferred the Sublime Degree of Master Mason upon Brother Fellowcrafts in waiting. This degree was held in the Grand Lodge Room with over 800 Brethren in attendance.
In the 1920’s, the Ionic Lodge Foundation was organized and large sums of money were contributed as a source of help and comfort to our members, especially during the dismal 1920’s. Thereafter, The Herman Stark Memorial Foundation, Inc. was formed to offer relief to distressed Brethren.
On February 15, 1934, R:. W :. Bainbridge Colby, Secretary of State under President Woodrow Wilson, delivered an address to the Lodge.