THE HISTORY OF ANTIOCH LODGE NO. 66
This history was put together by the late PM Richard A. Hardy (who served as Antioch’s 29th Worshipful Master during the Masonic calendar year of 1959). PM Hardy based his work (in part) on notes communicated to him by the late PM Arthur S. Campbell (whose memory at that time was regarded with deep reverence and who served as Antioch’s 6th Worshipful Master during the Masonic calendar of year of 1929). These excerpts from his “work” entitled, “A Brief Outline of the History of Antioch Lodge No. 66” which was presented, on April 19, 1972, to the Master, Officers and Members of Antioch Lodge No. 66 (as well as visiting Brothers)… reads as follows:
“…In every age there are men who would rather light a candle than to curse the darkness. From this simple thought it can easily be perceived there were such men of courage and fortitude more than a half century ago who would not only light a candle but who would shield it from the tempest and the storm and by its rays of light they would plant the seed of a fraternity destined to grow and blossom like the bay tree.
Such pre-eminent qualities characterized Bro. William O. Murphy (of Celestial Lodge No. 3 who is distinguished with the honor of conceiving and forming Antioch Lodge) and Bros. Charles M. Dunning and C. Franklin Carr (of St. John’s Lodge No. 29) through whose efforts a club (temporary named “Murphy’s Club”) was organized. Since the purpose of the club was to form a “Masonic” body in the borough of The Bronx, it is needless to say that each individual interviewed, from among their Church and business associates, was carefully screened and highly recommended. This aspect within itself was indeed an arduous task.
The first meeting of the club was held on Monday evening July 6, 1922 in Lafayette Hall located at 165 West 131st Street. At this meeting, Bro. Dunning (who served in the capacity of temporary chairman) formally outlined the objectives of the club. He also explained that the “joining fee” was to be $25 and that it was anticipated they would have a bank account balance of $3,000 before requesting the PHGL to set them up as a permanent organization. Obviously, few if any, were prepared to pay the full joining fee as the receipts (from that meeting) amounted to only $51.75; of which $1.50 was disbursed for hall rental. These figures are significant in that they point to the humble beginnings of Antioch Lodge which has grown to be such a vital part of Prince Hall Masonry.
The second meeting was held on July 23, 1922 in the funeral parlor of Bro. C. Franklin Carr, located at 110 West 131st Street. At this meeting Bro. Harry Knight was elected 1st Vice President and Bro. Charles M. Dunning was elected 2nd Vice President. Also, it was at this meeting that Bro. Knight proposed ‘Antioch’ as the permanent name of the Club. While there were no less than 26 cities so named, the city for which Antioch Lodge No. 66 was named was the City of Antioch in Syria, founded in 300 B.C. According to the Great Light in Masonry, it was in this City that the Disciples of Christ were first called Christians. It was for this reason Bro. Harry Knight was inspired to adopt the name. It is also interesting to point out that Bro. Knight was originally a member of Celestial Lodge No. 3, from which he later demitted to Euclid Lodge No. 70, where he became Master; however, there is no evidence that he was ever a member of Antioch.
The last meeting of the Club was called by the then M.W. Grand Master David Parker and was held in the Seventh Day Adventist Church on West 136th Street during the latter part of 1922. After his careful screening and several rejections, for reasons best known by the Grand Master, the remaining 280 candidates were split into three groups. The last contingent was raised on January 19, 1923; and thus permitted Antioch to operate as A.U.D. Lodge (i.e., Antioch Under Dispensation) until December 12, 1923 when it became officially warranted as Antioch Lodge No. 66. This momentous occasion took place in Laurel Gardens, located on East 116th Street. The elected officers included: William O. Murphy, WM; Arthur W. Handy, SW; Rodriguez S. Dyer, JW; Charles H. Jackson, Treasurer and Walter E. Handy, Secretary.
After the business of the evening had been concluded, these newly made masons joined their wives and sweethearts in the main dining room where an elaborate banquet was enjoyed. Bro. Arthur Handy who was to become the second Master of Antioch Lodge acted as Master of Ceremonies; the newly install Worshipful Master William O. Murphy delivered the address of welcome and the principal speaker was Reverend John W. Robinson, Pastor of St. Marks Methodist Church.
Of those 280 Charter members, only 12 remained in their midst at the time this history was presented to the Lodge; however, it was stated that all of them would have been there were it not for illness and infirmities…”
As mentioned earlier, although Bro. Harry Knight was not a member of our Lodge, our history would not be complete without mentioning his contributions. He was born in St. Thomas Danish West Indies on August 8, 1867. He graduated from public schools in 1879; and, arrived in New York City in May 1881. His inspiration to become a Mason came from his father, who was a thirty-third degree Mason. In addition to that, Bro. Knight felt that it was the finest of organizations, and to become a member was his highest ambition. He was raised in Celestial Lodge No.3 on the first Friday in June 1886. He served three years as Junior Warden and two years as Senior Warden. Also, he was exalted in Excelsior Chapter in March 1891, as he was the first secretary of the consolidation of Excelsior and Widow’s Son Chapter, Royal Arch Masons, and was dubbed and created a Sublime Prince of the Royal Secret in 1895, in the King David
Consistory No. 3 A.A.S.R.M. Created a Sir Knight in Ivanhoe Commandery in 1901. Was exalted as a Sov. Inspector General of the 33◦ on March 11, 1925. He helped to form Medina Temple but did not take the degree as a Noble of the Mystic Shrine until 1897. In 1925 he held the official position in the Imperial Council A.E.A.O.N.M.S. as Deputy Imperial Potentate. He was also Worshipful Master of Euclid Lodge No.70.
Such was the caliber of just one of the respected and knowledgeable Brothers who helped lay the foundation of Prince Hall’s most distinguished Lodge.
In the August 1927 Communication, the following inspiring poem entitled “The Giant Lodge” (composed by Bro. Jacob Hopkins the previous year) was published and reads as follows:
THE GIANT LODGE,
by Bro. Jacob Hopkins, Sr. Deacon (1926)
In Nineteen Hundred And Twenty-Three
About Three Years Ago,
A Giant Lodge Was Organized
By Merely Three Or Four.
The Men Who Figured Out The Plans
To Bring This Lodge About
Were Men Of Vision And Of Might
Of Whom We’ll Read About.
The History Of This Lodge
Will Live, And Live Forever…
For All The Names Recorded Here
Are United Friends And Brothers.
The Holy Bible is our Guide
The True Masonic Light
And from it “Antioch” was picked
by Brother Harry Knight.
This ANTIOCH, The Largest Lodge
In Greater New York State,
Stands out alone as “Noble Grand”
Or, a “Masonic Potentate”.
The Masters, Past and Present, are
Men who stood the test
Through sleepless nights and eatless hours
They really did their best.
If anyone should speak about
The “Million Dollar Lodge,”
Don’t be confused, it’s ANTIOCH
She’s known by all the Boys…