A Brief History of Robert Burns Lodge #163, F.& A.M. of Newport, Kentucky
The history of Robert Burns Lodge #163, F.& A.M. is one of romantic achievement. From its organization of the lodge on April 19, 1848 it has stood as a bulwark of strength for freedom and democracy. The first members were men of pioneer extraction whose undying effort and devoted consecration to high Masonic principles established the Lodge on such a solid foundation that it has been able to stand steadfast, in good time and bad, for more than one hundred fifty years.
Chartered by the Grand Lodge of Kentucky, F.& A.M. on August 21, 1848, Robert Burns Lodge was named in honor of Robert Burns, a Master Mason and national poet of Scotland.
Burns was born in Alloway, Scotland on January 25, 1759 and died at the early age of 37 on July 21, 1796. Although Burns wrote many poems during his lifetime, many of which demonstrated the positive influence of masonry upon his life, perhaps his most famous work is “Auld Lang Syne: which is traditionally sung around the world on New Years Eve.
Robert Burns Lodge originally met in the old York Street Hall. It was located on York Street between Bellevue (Fourth) Street and Madison (Fifth) Street in Newport. Later the Lodge met in Hayman’s Hall located at Madison (Fifth) and Monmouth Streets. Brother Hayman, owner of the building, was a member of Robert Burns Lodge.
The Lodge met for the first time at a new Masonic Temple located at York and Mayo (Seventh) Street in Newport on December 1, 1886. This initial meeting took place in the ante room on the third floor.
The Temple had been constructed at a total cost of $25,000.00, including the cost of the lot. (This four story building was sold and still stands with its Masonic doorway in tact on the front north corner entrance).
Robert Burns Lodge, along with the other Masonic Bodies utilizing the Temple continued to meet at this location until September, 1964.
In May, 1963, the Brothers of Newport Lodge #358, F. & A.M. invited the Brothers of Robert Burns Lodge to join with them in the building of a new Masonic Temple to be located on the Northeast corner of Park Avenue and Sixth Street. The Temple was to be erected on property owned for years by Newport Lodge for the designated purpose of a Masonic Temple.
An agreement was reached between Newport Lodge and Robert Burns Lodge to build a new Masonic Temple to be located on 523 Park Avenue, Newport, Kentucky as a fifty/fifty partnership. The first step in the partnership was completed in July, 1963 when Robert Burns Lodge purchased fifty percent interest in the planned building site from Newport Lodge for the sum of $5,000.00.
With the interest in building a new Masonic Temple now stimulated in both Lodges, a construction contract was entered into in November, 1963 with the Been Beers and Sons Construction Company to erect the new Temple at an estimated cost of $93,106.00. However, with cost overruns the final cost of the new Masonic Temple was $111,618.10.
Most Worshipful Grand Master, Dr. John Dawson, Grand Lodge of Kentucky F.& A.M. and a Past Master of Ft. Thomas Lodge #808, F.& A.M. laid the cornerstone on Sunday, April 12, 1964 with approximately five hundred in attendance.
Due to the hard work and generous donations of the membership of Robert Burns Lodge, Newport Lodge, and Gertrude Chapter #19, O.E.S. and the support of their many friends, the lodges were able to retire the mortgage years early in 1973. It was September, 1974 when the official mortgage burning ceremony was celebrated.
We conclude this brief history by quoting from Bro. Albert Connell Hanson, P.M. of Robert Burns Lodge and Most Worshipful Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Kentucky, F.& A.M. Bro. Hanson chaired the Planning Committee for the Robert Burns Lodge Centennial celebration held in 1948. Bro. Hanson had served the Grand Lodge of Kentucky, F.& A.M. as Grand Master during 1946-1947 and remains the only Brother of Robert Burns Lodge so honored.
“The history of Robert Burns Lodge #163 over the past one hundred years teens with worthy deeds capably executed. Through our portals have passed scores of our Brethren who have figured prominently in the life of state and nation. They include men distinguished in statesmanships, education, judiciary, ministry, profession, and business. One Past Grand Master has been furnished Kentucky Masonry.”
“The past one hundred years are history. Looking to the future, members of Robert Burns Lodge #163, F.& A.M. are determined to allow no let-up in enthusiasm. What our predecessors have so successfully carried out or planned constitue a mark for the present membership to emulate. We consider this a sacred trust. We will not fail this undertaking.”
Now more than one hundred fifty years into the history of Robert Burns Lodge #163, F.& A.M., the lodge remains dedicated to the past history and is still looking forward toward our future. Our membership is determined to allow no let-up in our enthusiasm for Freemasonry and Robert Burns Lodge. In the words of our Most Worshipful Past Grand Master Albert Connell Hanson, left with us years ago. We too resolve that our -predecessors have passed on to us a sacred trust and we will not fail in its undertaking.