History of Hoover Lodge
The Lodge Room of Hoover Lodge #644 Today
The beginning of Hoover Lodge #644 came long before Hoover itself became a city. It began in Birmingham's West End and Fairview neighborhoods and in the downtown business district. Each had its own Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons. Downtown, a different Lodge met in the Birmingham Masonic Temple each day Monday through Friday. Men who became brothers in the fraternity would come from all over Birmingham and the outlying areas to attend Lodge. Hoover Lodge # 644 is the result of several lodges that have consolidated over the course of the past 20 years or so. After a period of decline in membership in the 1980s and 1990s, Hoover Lodge is now growing more than ever and as we expand our use of the internet, we expect the trend to continue.
Through the consolidation of West End #753, (chartered 1902 and merged with Magic City #860 charted 1926) and Fairview #644 (1906), Hoover Lodge #644 came to be in 1990 when chartered by our good friend and brother MWGM J.C. Brady. Both lodges were located in older, deteriorating neighborhoods; West End on Tuscaloosa Ave and 14th Street SW, and Fairview on Warrior Road and Avenue X West. Both Lodges overlooked the Alabama State Fairgrounds, on either side; and at times during the State Fair, it was impossible to find parking on meeting nights. Those certainly were the "Glory Days" of the Lodges, the State Fair, and the neighborhoods with them. The memberships of both Lodges saw that it was time to relocate for a number of reasons. It is likely that the Lodges which later moved and consolidated saw the same problems that Fairview and West End had.
The two Lodges agreed to move to Hoover, Alabama, at the recommendation of, among others, Donald Watts, who was the first Mayor of Hoover and twice Past Master of Hoover Lodge and current 50 year member James Lucas. The new Lodge met in a rented office building for 4 years while securing property and constructing the new building. Thus, Hoover Lodge was born and over 100 years of Masonic history came with it. It was a very exciting time for our membership. In the spring of 1995, the building was completed and when the cornerstone was laid in place by MWGM Luther E. Grooms, the members had to direct traffic to a nearby church parking lot and shuttle the crowd, many of whom were non-Masons, to the Lodge in order to view the ceremony. At the time, some of the older members compared the excitement to the old days of "Burning the Mortgage" at Fairview in 1952, and receiving the World Champion Central Park Little League baseball team at West End Temple. The Masonic Lodge was back in the community, as it should be.
Birmingham Masonic Temple, Constructed 1922
Meanwhile, other Lodges were experiencing some difficulties of operation. Among them, Birmingham Lodge #757 carried the banner for the Downtown Masonic Temple Association, which had been formed by the consolidation of Birmingham Fraternal #384 (1871), Birmingham Temple #636 (1905), Golden Fleece #401 (1874), Myles J. Green #530 (1892), and King Hiram #774 (1914), with Birmingham Lodge #757. These Lodges met in the Birmingham Masonic Temple, which was located on 6th Avenue N. and 19th Street. As it was with West End and Fairview, the Birmingham Masonic Temple was the center of activity throughout most of the 20th century. Birmingham Lodge #757 was chartered in 1912, and the Temple hosted eight Lodges as well as several Shrine groups, along with several Order of the Eastern Star chapters. It was complete with a Movie Theatre and Bowling Center contributing income to fund many benevolent causes. As the suburbs developed, and more and more people moved out of the city, demand for the Temple Bowling Alley and Theatre diminished, and the Lodges meeting there made the decision in 1969 to sell the building and move to another location. In doing so, they made a firm determination to remain in the downtown area in order to maintain Masonic presence which would lend itself to accommodate visiting brethren who wished to attend a lodge while in the area.
Although the accommodation of the area had to be given up due to the deteriorating condition of the area, the intent and determination certainly was of noble intention. That determination of the membership was similar to that of Past Master Bill Lovell of Birmingham #757, who, for the year that he served as Master, traveled from Arkansas, while also stationed there in the military, each week to attend his duties. Had it not been for the determination of the Association, there would be no familiar square and compasses emblem displayed in Birmingham today, as it is at 214 N. 24th Street, where the Association met after the sale of the Temple.
West End Masonic Temple was added to the National Register of Historic Places in August 1987.
West End Masonic Temple Memorial
Lodge Chartered in 1912; Temple built in 1926. Burned Down on January 1, 1996.
The West End Masonic Temple built by Lodge #753 was also locally significant for its association with the growth of freemasonry in the early 20th century.
The temple was located on the corner of Tuscaloosa Avenue and 14th Street. Constructed in the classical revival style in yellow brick with a stone and terra cotta façade on the ground level, it was the most ornate structure in the neighborhood. Matching pairs of recessed Doric columns on the front corners rose to an impressive two stories to support an entablature that surrounded the building on three sides. A frieze engraved with Masonic symbols ornamented the entablature. From the beginning, the first floor was reserved for commercial use while the two upper floors housed the Masons dining hall and Lodge Room. The temple was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in August of 1987 and remained in use for professional offices and businesses until it burned on New Year’s Day 1996.
There always has been, and will always be, Brothers in the Lodge whom others look toward for guidance and whose wisdom we all seek before making decisions concerning the operation of our Lodges. All Lodges have respected leaders of this type and we would like to take this opportunity to honor and recognize just a few; those who, whether asked or not, will take a Brother under their wing and teach him all he wants to learn about the Craft and it's work; men like Fred Petty, A.L. Mitchell, Ferd Evans, J.W. and Alan Battle, Lou Myers, and J.M. Mundine; L.G. and J.D. Eads, Art and Bill Lovell, Bill Cook, Sr. and Bill Cook, Jr.; Joe Boyd, James Lucas, and Larry Riggins. Perhaps the most colorful of all was Amado Manasco Reeves.
Our consolidated Lodge history also includes the following Masonic Dignitaries:
Past Grand Officers
John Preddy, Past Grand Master
J.W. Cooper, Past Grand Master
J.W. Battle, Past Grand Marshal
Past District Lecturers
A. L. Mitchell
L. G. Eades
J. W. Battle
L. H. Riggins
Bill Cook, Jr.
For any additional information, or a more detailed and chronological record of Hoover Lodge # 644, the Grand Secretary can be contacted at alafreemasonry.org.