Early History of
Clifton-Gaston Allen Lodge #664
After completion of Clifton Lodge's annual Installation of Officers on Saturday, November 18, 1995, Guy W. Bahrt, Worshipful Master of Gaston G. Allen Lodge # 629, approached John H. Whitehouse, Jr., the newly installed Worshipful Master of Clifton Lodge #664 concerning the possibility of a consolidation of these two Lodges. Both Worshipful Masters found the notion attractive, but for different reasons. Clifton Lodge had a small treasury but no problem finding officers, whereas Gaston G. Allen Lodge had a reasonable treasury, but had been recycling officers since 1984.
They met to discuss the matter further on Saturday, December 9, at the Arabica Coffee Shop at the corner of Warren Road and Detroit Avenue. At that meeting, they decided to document anticipated areas of concern and to calculate expected demographics for the merged Lodge as well as to develop an estimate of post-merger financials and appreciation of the strengths and weaknesses of the merged officer pool. They met with District Deputy Grand Masters R. W. Bros. Robert D. Berteau and Hugh A. Harris at the Lakewood Masonic Temple on Wednesday, December 20, to discuss their findings. At that time, each Master appointed brethren to serve on a merger committee consisting of five voting members and one non-voting member from each Lodge. The voting members were composed as follows: one Past District Deputy Grand Master, one Past Master, the current Worshipful Master, the current Senior Warden and one person who had never served in any Lodge office. According, W. Bro. Bahrt appointed R. W. Bro. Herbert E. Miracle 33°, Guy W. Bahrt (WM), Ronald W. Fierst (SW), W. Bro. Robert A. Dougherty (PM) and Donald D. Webb; W. Bro. Whitehouse appointed R. W. Bro. Robert W. Niebaum, John H. Whitehouse, Jr. (WM), Rick R. Ross (SW), W. Bro. Michael J. Friedrich (PM) and Robert L. Kellogg. The Gaston G. Allen non-voting member was W. Bro. Stanley R. Weimer, and the Clifton non-voting member was Kenneth R. Magill (JW). The Deputies and Masters agreed that R. W. Bro. Niebaum should chair the Merger Committee.
Its first meeting was held on Monday, January 19, 1996, at the Lakewood Masonic Temple. The purpose of that meeting was to discuss issues identified ahead of time by the two Worshipful Masters at their previous meetings and by the Committee Chair during the course of his efforts in organizing a previous merger which had failed to materialize; all members added concerns of their own as they came to mind during the meeting.
They then met with the Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of Ohio, M. W. Bro. David L. Dresser, PGM at the Scottish Rite Cathedral at 3615 Euclid Avenue on Wednesday, January 24, 1996. The purpose of this meeting, held in conjunction with the District Secretaries' meeting, was to discuss issues pertinent to the Grand Lodge Code. Although earlier discussions had been based upon the notion of preserving the oldest Lodge number (i.e., Gaston G. Allen Lodge #629) by merger of the Lodge with the newer number (i.e., Clifton Lodge #664), it was decided that the fact that the merging Lodge was required to read the proposal at three consecutive stated meetings and the receiving Lodge only had to read the proposal at two consecutive stated meetings, coupled with the fact that all reading must be completed prior to mid-June, would have to be the determining factor. Whereas Clifton Lodge had but one stated meeting per months and Gaston G. Allen Lodge had two, it was necessary to merge Gaston G. Allen Lodge into Clifton Lodge.
Their next meeting was held at the Lakewood Masonic Temple on Monday, February 12, 1996, at which time all issues identified at the previous meeting were settled by a gentlemen's agreement between the members of the Committee.
W. Bro. Bahrt then wrote a proposal to merge and sent it by mail to all members of his Lodge in February. Of 145 ballots returned, 134 were favorable and only 5 opposed. Having received the requisite mail-in vote, the proposal was read at three consecutive stated meetings, culminating with a unanimous written ballot in Lodge on Friday, April 19. The document was then read by W. Bro. Whitehouse at two consecutive stated meetings on May 7 and June 4, receiving unanimous approval by written ballot in Lodge on June 4.
Immediately thereafter, W. Bros. Bahrt and Whitehouse issued a special commemorative issue of the Clifton Light detailing the history of both Lodges, a brief biography of Gaston G. Allen and the regular feature known as Spotlight focusing on R. W. Bro. Herbert E. Miracle. That newsletter contained a survey asking members their opinion concerning several alternative names proposed by the members of the Merger Committee as well as their choice of meeting night, number of stated meetings per month, the suggested amount of dues and amount of candidate fees as well as their opinion concerning whether to maintain Clifton's practice of remitting dues for all Masons having 50 or more years of service or whether to adopt Gaston G. Allen's policy of remitting dues only upon statement of hardship.
The result of the 68 surveys returned by the July 15 cutoff date were: Clifton-Gaston Allen (43%), Clifton-Gaston G. Allen (26%), Gaston Allen-Clifton (17%) and 9 other spread among 4 different names. Of this total response, 40 were sent in by members of Gaston G. Allen Lodge # 629 and the other 28 by members of Clifton Lodge. Among the other names suggested were Clifton-Allen (6%), Rockport (5%), Allen-Clifton (2%) and Brotherhood (1%). The Merger Committee had also entertained a suggestion to name the Lodge after L. Todd McKinney, a Past Grand Master who died in October 1995. The brethren favored 1 stated meeting per month to occur on Thursday (78%), dues of $45 and $130 candidate fees (59%), remitting dues only upon statement of hardship (87%). The motive behind the move to Thursday nights was that the Lakewood High School Boosters' Club was renting the ballroom for bingo and many brethren were unable to find nearby parking.
Meanwhile, Secretary W. Bro. Robert J. Trigg sent the results of the Clifton vote to the Grand Secretary along with the results of the Gaston G. Allen vote which W. Bro. Donald D. Watson, Secretary, had sent to him after the proposal had been approved by the Gaston G. Allen brethren on April 19. The merger was finalized by M. W. Bro. David L. Dresser on Friday, June 21, 1996--the day of Gaston G. Allen's last meeting. Bro. Ted Hadde received his Fellowcraft degree that night.
W. Bro. Whitehouse then drafted bylaws merging the survey results with the boilerplate Uniform By-Laws required by the Grand Lodge of Ohio, then developed a side-by-side listing of the two Lodges' Standing Resolution, annotating these with results from the survey, after which he developed the original draft of the new Standing Resolutions and called a meeting of the Merger Committee on Tuesday, July 23, to discuss the two draft documents which were mailed to the Committee members two weeks prior to the meeting. Meanwhile, R. W. Bro. Niebaum redrafted some of the Standing Resolutions. The bylaws were readily approved as were most of the Standing Resolutions. Certain financial concerns remained, particularly with regard to the Gaston G. Allen Welfare Fund. The Committee met again on Thursday, August 1, to finalize their draft of the Standing Resolutions which were read in full, along with the bylaws, at the stated meeting which took place on Tuesday, September 3. Bro. Ted Hadde was raised by the Robertson Fellowcraft Team on Tuesday, September 3, with Lodged opened by the Gaston G. Allen officers and closed by the Clifton Lodge officers to symbolically portray the consolidation which had occurred over the course of the summer. The documents were read again at the stated meeting on Tuesday, October 1. Immediately following that reading, the 27 eligible brethren present voted unanimously to accept by the Bylaws and the Standing Resolutions. Tellers for the vote were W. Bro. Allan E. Cawrse and our newest Master Mason, Bro. Ted Hadde.
The Lodge's name was changed when the Bylaws were approved by M. W. Bro. Neil M. Smalley on October 7, 1996. Our merger received the formal approval of the Grand Lodge at 10:00 A.M. when the report of the Committee on Charters and Dispensations was accepted by the assembled delegates at the 187th Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of Ohio held in Dayton on Saturday, October 19, 1996. That report also acted to formalize the change of our Lodge's name from Clifton Lodge to Clifton-Gaston Allen Lodge.
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