Written by L. Jones – 26 September 2007
Meriden did not exist as an independent town until 1806, and was later reconstituted as a city in 1867. As part of Wallingford, the residents of Meriden often joined lodges from surrounding towns. Many men joined Compass Lodge #9 of Wallingford, Temple Lodge #16 in Cheshire, Harmony Lodge #20 in Berlin, and Friendship Lodge #33 in Southington. As the city grew, however, there became more desire for Meriden to have a lodge of its own.
In 1815, with the support of Temple Lodge, a petition was presented to the Grand Lodge of Connecticut, but “after full discussion, the petition was negatived.” The unfortunate anti-masonic feelings that swept the country in the late 1820’s postponed further attempts to constitute a lodge, as no new lodges were formed and only sixteen Connecticut lodges remained active.
In 1850 another attempt was made, and a dispensation was granted. On January 1st 1851, John Parker was installed by Grand Master Benoni Shepard as the first Master of Meridian Lodge. This was the first new charter granted in Connecticut since the wave of anti-masonic sentiment. Many of the members of this new lodge were raised in Harmony Lodge #20 from Berlin, as that lodge has relocated to New Britain.
The charter granted stipulated that the lodge was to be located at “Meriden Center” and the meetings were held at the Odd Fellows Hall. In 1865, the lodge relocated to the west end of Meriden, where most of the brethren resided. Morgan Hall was used as the lodge meeting place until 1871, when the top floor of the Palace Block (6-12 W. Main St.) was selected for the lodge room.
More than fifty years later, Meridian Lodge united with Center Lodge #97, the other lodge in the city to build a magnificent Masonic Temple located close to town hall on East Main St. The cornerstone was laid on September 17, 1927, and was completed on November 10, 1928. Both lodges used Norwood Hall at St. Paul’s Universalist Church as their temporary lodge during this time. Meridian Lodge opened its first lodge meeting in the new lodge on November 12th, 1928. To this day, the same lodge room is still used.
Masonry has been thriving in Meriden for the past one hundred and fifty years, and we hope that the next one hundred and fifty will be as exciting as the first!