Chipping away at Freemasons

The Dandenong Masonic Hall. 157826 Picture: STEWART CHAMBERS

What’s in a Name delves into the fascinating stories and personalities behind some of the city’s best-known street names and locations. This week the Journal looks at the new Freemasons Lane.

Freemasons Lane came to be through the Revitalising Central Dandenong project.
It runs off Mason Street, near the Masonic Hall.
Greater Dandenong councillors gave the green light to its name in February after receiving positive community feedback on the idea, including a 117-signature petition.
It recognises the 1923-built Masonic Hall’s community, social and architectural significance and strong links to Dandenong’s history.
Freemasons Victoria Grand Master Don Reynolds said markers that acknowledged the past in a changing urban environment provided future generations with an opportunity to gain knowledge of a local area’s history, adding to the quality of the social environment.
The 1919 Dandenong township plan shows a cottage on Lot 12, the site where the Masonic Hall is now built.
No documentation could be located on the date of its demolition.
The history of the Masonic Lodge started in 1876 when the Lodge of Sincerity was consecrated.
The first meeting to consider forming the Lodge of Free and Acceptable Masons was held on 3 September 1876 but the lodge was closed in 1881.
It wasn’t until 1896 that re-opening the lodge was considered.
Members from the original lodge joined this new Lodge of Sincerity and brought with them regalia, furniture and money.
It was consecrated on 24 August 1896 and meetings were held monthly at the lodge room of the Mechanics Institute at the Shire Offices.
In December 1907 members decided to set aside part of the membership dues and initiation fees to build a Masonic Temple.
In the 1920s the lodge was struggling for space due to a large increase in memberships and on 7 September 1922 the lodge held a meeting to discuss the possibility of building.
A contract was entered with Brother G Snell to have plans and specifications drawn up for the cost of £2800.
Tenders were called and a building contract was signed with Brother N A Taylor for the total sum of £2530.
The building was completed in 1923, with all furniture and fittings for the supper and lodge room donated by members.
The lodge held its first meeting in the new building on 22 December 1923.
On 16 August 1924 a ceremony of dedication was held and the foundation stone was unveiled.
In 1991 the Dandenong Masonic Temple as well as those in Springvale, Mordialloc and Chelsea closed and amalgamated to use a new building in Keysborough.
In 1992 the building was used by the Recycle Workshop and by September 1996, Mick and Rosa Valenti had acquired the building.
In December 1996 they leased the building to the Spanish Christian Church for three years with Guillermo Esquivell as the Senior Minister.
The building is now vacant. Greater Dandenong Council will transform the space into an art gallery.
– Information courtesy Greater Dandenong Heritage Study.