Reagan Lodge 1037

 

The History of Reagan Lodge 1037

By James E. Fisher, P.M., Lodge Historian

In a vast majority of cases, to know the history of a Masonic lodge is to know something about the history of the community where it was formed.In fact, trace the Masonic order back to the founding of the Republic of Texas and you’ll find many very recognizable names associated with both. Sam Houston, the man whose name rests well upon one of the nation’s largest cities, was a Mason. Other names on this historic list would include: James Fannin, Commander at Goliad; Lorenzo De Zavala, first Vice President of the Republic of Texas; Anson Jones, the last President of the Republic first Texas Grand Master; Stephen F. Austin, the Father of Texas; and Mirabeau B. Lamar, Father of Education in Texas.

Reagan Lodge doesn’t trace its history to Texas in the 1830’s but the roots of Texas Masonry certainly start there.The lodge does however have the distinction of being first Masonic lodge in the Houston Heights, established at a time when that city was a struggling blue collar trolley suburb of Houston. The Heights, as it is more commonly known, was established by the Omaha and South Texas Land Company in the late 19th Century and is considered Houston’s oldest neighborhood community.

Reagan Lodge No. 1037 A.F. & A.M. was chartered by the Grand Lodge of Texas on December 12, 1910 and set-to-work on December 31 of that year. In the city of Houston, only Holland Lodge No. 1 (established as the first lodge in the Republic of Texas), Temple Lodge No. 4 and Gray Lodge No. 329 were established before Reagan No. 1037.

In her book The History of Houston Heights 1891-1918, Sister M. Agatha of the Incarnate Word Academy, notes that the lodge was “…organized over the volunteer fire department building, next to Dr. William Olive’s Drug store at 910 Yale Street.” 910 Yale is currently the address of a piano repair shop. (photo right)

In its history the lodge has had several meeting locations. From its first location, the “Heights Masonic Hall” on Yale, the lodge moved to the corner of Harvard and 11th Street, then to Harvard & 8th Street. On December 31, 1948, the building that is a community landmark on northeast corner of Heights Boulevard and 16th Street, became its permanent home. This building was needed to accommodate a significant influx of new members following World War II.

The meeting location that was called Heights Masonic Hall at 908½ Yale in Houston’s 1915 City Directory still stands as apartment # 4, 906 Yale. (photo left) The Harvard & 11th Street building, completed in 1930 at a cost of $110,700, is now converted as condominiums. The address is 1100 Harvard. (photo right)



If you visit the 1100 Harvard building, look carefully at the rectangle above the main entrance. (photo left) You’ll see a faint outline of the Masonic “Square and Compass” symbol that was once at its center. Among other amenities when constructed, this building included a bowling alley on the lower level.

Sister Agatha also lists nine “Masters” (W. M., Worshipful Master) who held that distinguished lodge office up to the time the Houston Heights was annexed by the city of Houston. J. M. French was the first to serve as Master of Reagan Lodge. The late H. C. Thomas, Sr., notes in his “A Brief History of Reagan Lodge” that in June, 1911, Brother Frank R. Williams became the first man to be made a Mason at Reagan Lodge.

The Lodge takes its name from John Henninger Reagan (1818-1905). The Handbook of Texas lists many accomplishments for statesman John Reagan. It notes that he was elected as a Texas county judge, member of the 2nd Legislature of Texas, U. S. Congressman, and also served as Postmaster General for the C.S.A. In addition he was the first Chairman of the Texas Railroad Commission, and he helped to found the Texas State Historical Association. John Reagan was a Past Master of Palestine Lodge # 31, Palestine, Texas. When John H. Reagan High School was constructed in the Heights in the late 20’s it too was named in his honor.

While connections to historic achievements and local history are important to establish a foundation for the future, without continued civic involvement, a proud history has little value. Over the years as the lodge and the city grew, Reagan’s members helped to found many of the 32 Masonic lodges in the Houston area, among them S. P. Waltrip (named for one of Reagan’s Past Masters), Bellaire, Oak Forest, Memorial, and Garden Oaks lodges. Reagan’s membership rolls include, or have included, many individuals prominent in the city and state; Masons all, founders of major corporations, firemen and fire chiefs, judges and attorneys, school principals and teachers, politicians, railroad men, businessmen, policeman, skilled tradesmen, and white collar office workers alike -- each meeting “on the level” for almost a century in the Houston Heights.

Year after year Reagan lodge has been honored to have its members serve the Masonic organization as officers of other Masonic organizations like the Order of the Easter Star, Shrine, Scottish Rite and York Rite, both at the state and local levels, including the office of Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Texas.

Always an active lodge, Reagan is among the few lodges in the state that has never had an individual serve more than one term as Master, a proud tradition continuing for nearly 100 years.

Reagan Lodge has been recognized as a Vanguard Lodge by the Grand Lodge of Texas on multiple occasions. For over four decades the membership has been called upon by lodges throughout the area to perform one of the most recognized dramatic representations of the 3rd Masonic degree in the region.


As a way to salute the many men who proudly served their country in World War II, and to commemorate the Heights Masons among them, Reagan Lodge and its members were among the many donors that help provide funds for the Height’s World War II Memorial located at Heights Boulevard and 11th Street. More over, Reagan Lodge and its members are actively involved in many community activities such as lining the boulevard with flags on patriotic holidays, blood drives, food bank contributions, and support of Heights Association projects.

As a century of carrying on the work of making good men better draws to a close, we the members of Reagan Lodge can only strive to make the next 100 years prove as prosperous and as magnificent as the first, continuing to follow the historic trial our Masonic predecessors have provided for us.

For more information about the Masons who helped found the Republic of Texas, click here to view the website of the Grand Lodge of Texas. (http://www.grandlodgeoftexas.org/Tx_heroes-2.php)

 

   
   
 

Reagan Lodge #1037, 1606 Heights Blvd, Houston, TX 77008, 713-861-1037