A Short History of Trenton Cyrus #5, F & AM
On 29th of April, 1999 Trenton Lodge #5 and Cyrus Lodge #148 combined to form Trenton Cyrus #5, thus forging two long streams of Freemasonic history in the State of New Jersey into one.
Trenton #5 was the earlier Lodge. Granted it's charter on 4 July, 1787, it was the fifth lodge to be created in the State of New Jersey. In a practice peculiar to early Masonry, it was a "moon lodge," with it's meetings fixed to fall upon the first Monday before the full moon of the calendar month.
This practice of holding a "moon lodge" was begun early in Masonic history when travel at night meant going by dark over dangerous or difficult country. Arranging lodge meetings to coincide with the phase of the full moon insured that brothers traveling to and from lodge would have the advantage of bright moonlight to aid their passage over country roads. With the advent of more settled times, and the growth of cities and reliable transport, "moon lodges" were gradually assigned regular calendar meeting dates.
The meeting times of Trenton Lodge #5 were changed in 1848 to the more modern practice of holding regular meetings on the first and third Monday nights of every month.
Another peculiarity in the Charter of Trenton Lodge #5, is that it was granted without displaying proof of any fixed or acceptable meeting room, thus making it the first (and perhaps, only) lodge with a "Traveling Charter" in the State. It was not until the 25th of March, 1788 that it is noted that Trenton Lodge #5 obtained a meeting room in a private home for the sum of £8 per annum. Also noted in the minutes of the Lodge for that same night is an account presented by the Treasurer of the lodge, Br. Ewing, for £1, 2s, 6d for "five dozen bottles for the use of the Lodge," with an order that the Lodge pay for the same. Thus begins a long tradition of hospitality, of which the Lodge continues to be justly proud.
In an interesting co-incidence, perhaps foreshadowing it's later merger with it's sister Lodge, Cyrus #148, Trenton #5 met by special dispensation of the Grand Master in Pennington on the 21st of January, 1788, there to make two brothers "Masons at sight" (to enter, pass and raise them on one night) because the distance involved between Trenton and Pennington made repeated travel between the two towns inconvenient.
From such small beginnings, Trenton #5 continued to grow. By 1793, the Lodge felt financially secure enough to invest £376, 15s, 10d in the construction of a formal Lodge building, to be located on a tract of land on Barracks Street that had been deeded to the Lodge, in the city of Trenton. This building remains in existence and is now operated a museum and repository under the auspices of the Grand Lodge of New Jersey. It is an excellent example of Eighteenth Century architecture and is furnished with many period artifacts culled from lodges throughout the State of New Jersey. Tours are available and can be arranged.
Trenton #5 was a Lodge well-known and respected for it's charitable activities. It's minutes list contributions made by the Lodge to The Ladies Home Mission (1859), the Female Benevolent Society, and to the relief of victims of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 to name but a few. The active and charitable nature of this Lodge continues, with Lodge members continuing to donate their time and funds to the various Masonic Charities, as well lending support to young people in the International Order of DeMolay and International Order of Rainbow for Girls.
Trenton #5 has shown itself to be an adaptable Lodge, too, able to move and improve itself in response to changes within the complex history of Freemasonry in the United States in general, and in New Jersey in particular. In 1885, a Masonic Temple was constructed at the corner of State and Warren Streets in the City of Trenton, and Trenton #5 moved into this building along with four other Lodges. This building was sold in 1917, and for a period the Lodges (which had grown to number five) shared rented accommodation on the third floor of the Trent Theatre.
The Lodge held it's first meeting inside the grand, new Masonic Temple situated on Barracks Street on the 5th of March, 1926. In April of 1980, while the membership in the Masonic fraternity was suffering one of it's periodic declines, True Craftsman Lodge #202, which had also met in the Masonic Temple on Barracks Street, merged with Trenton #5, to the benefit of both Lodges. Although various government programs had been instituted to prevent it, the City of Trenton continued its downward spiral, with its population continuing to shift away from the city to the suburbs. This demographic shift reflected in falling attendance at meetings held at the Masonic Temple and Trenton #5 realized that it's existence within the center of the City was becoming increasingly imperiled. Trenton #5, which had once held an emergent communication in the quiet little village of Pennington, just to the North, looked again in that direction and found that an entire Lodge now existed there. That Lodge was Cyrus Lodge #148.
In March of 1877, there were nineteen Masons, representing six Lodges, who were now resident in the area of Pennington - a small agricultural village and stage-stop of some 500 souls on the route North from Trenton to Princeton. These nineteen Brothers petitioned Grand Lodge, through Ashlar Lodge #76 (warranted 1866, and meeting in same Masonic Temple as Trenton #5) to request that a Lodge be warranted in Pennington.
On the 17th of January, 1878, Cyrus Lodge #148, F&AM received its warrant, with WBr Benjamin C. Lippincott serving as Charter Master.
Cyrus #148 has the distinction to have served twice as Mother lodge to two successful Lodges: Hopewell #155, (which has since joined with Amwell Lodge #12 (2000).), and the unique Horizon Daylight Lodge #299.
Formed in 1989, Horizon Daylight #299 answered the need of many Brethren who could no longer attend regular evening lodge meetings because of age or infirmity. Intended from the first to be a Lodge that met during the hours of daylight, provision was also made for special transportation, and for refreshment so that every member would have the opportunity to share in fellowship and recreation. Special dispensation was obtained from Grand Lodge for members of Horizon to hold dual membership, so that there was no need for members to demit from their regular lodge in order to join Horizon Daylight. Horizon Daylight Lodge #299 continues to maintain close ties of fraternal affection to it's Mother Lodge.
Cyrus Lodge #148 met on the third floor above the Pennington Pharmacy on the corner of Main Street and Delaware Avenue until the construction of the present Temple on Burd Street, just across from the playing fields of The Pennington School.
Compiled from source documents by C.C. Harper, with the assistance of Br. Brian Harper, and contributions from WBr. Robert Heaney, Ill. Br. Sam Carlisi, PGC, and WBr. Don Garay.
© Trenton Cyrus Lodge #5