Santa Clara Lodge No. 34
Santa Clara Lodge No. 34 received its charter on May 5, 1853. The details of its founding, such as the names of its petitioners and its first line of officers are forever lost due to destroyed or missing records. However, we do know that Santa Clara Lodge No. 34 included 19 Master Masons on its roster, with E.S. Ruggles sitting as Master, E.E. Brock as Senior Warden, and William T. Rucker as Junior Warden. History also seems to show that construction of Lodge 34’s hall began sometime in the spring or early summer of 1853. By 1873, records kept at the Grand Lodge of California indicate that Santa Clara Lodge No. 34, at 75 members, was among the largest Masonic Lodges in the state. Unfortunately, and also for reasons lost to the passing of time, in 1887 the Grand Lodge of California revoked the charter of Santa Clara Lodge No, 34.
Liberty Lodge No. 299
Formation of Liberty Lodge No. 299 began in October 1889 with several preliminary meetings of nine past members of the defunct Santa Clara Lodge No. 34 and six other brothers, in Widney Hall, on Franklin Street in old Santa Clara. In February 1890 the newly formed Santa Clara Lodge No. 299 chose its name, reportedly after of much discussion and the rejection by Grand Lodge of the name “Lebanon”, owing to its past use by another Lodge in California, even though that lodge had become extinct years before. Accounts report that the discussion of a name for the new lodge was lengthy and tedious. Members became weary of the topic and at one point a member is quoted as uttering Patrick Henry’s famous phrase “give me liberty or give me death”. And from this, rose the name “Liberty”, which has been celebrated by the Lodge ever since. The following October 16, 1890, the Lodge received its charter from the Grand Lodge of California. At the time of its charter in 1890, the Master of the Lodge was Wiley H. Trogden, the Senior Warden was Melvin L. Gruwell, and Dennis W. Herrington was Junior Warden.
Liberty Lodge has held meetings in at least three places since its beginning in 1890; Widney Hall, on the north side of Franklin Street, between Main and Jackson; the Odd Fellows Hall, on the southwest corner of Franklin and Washington streets, and its current location on Scott Blvd., just north of El Camino Real. The Lodge hall on Scott Blvd. was demolished and rebuilt in its current form including the Westmont Retirement Community, in beginning in 1988.
Beginning with its charter in 1890, and throughout its history, Liberty Lodge No. 299 has become a well established and thriving lodge of Masonic Brothers dedicated to the tenets of the craft, meaningful contributions to our communities, and to the betterment of the neighborhoods, the cities, and the society of which it is a part.