In the Beginning:

In 1916, 10 Master Masons, seeing the need and having a motivation to form a new Lodge in the plat of Gary-Town; petitioned the Grand Lodge of Free & Accepted Masons of Florida.  The Grand Lodge, seeing the wisdom and merit of this petition granted a Warrant (or Dispensation) for a Lodge of Master Masons to meet and prove their ability to assemble and work as a Lodge of Master Masons.  Their first meeting was held on March 27, 1916.

After a year of working and proving their ability to meet the Grand Lodge requirements, the Grand Master, M.W.B. Fred E. Fletcher visited the Lodge and presented their Charter and constituted Gary Lodge No. 240 on February 12, 1917.

The Charter:

By the Authority of The Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Florida.

To all whom see these presents may concern, Greeting:

Whereas, It hath been duly represented to us that at, an in the vicinity of TAMPA in Hillsborough County, State of Florida, USA, there reside a number of Master Masons who are desirous of associating themselves together, agreeably to the constitution of Ancient Freemasonry, and it appearing to us to be for the increase and promotion of Ancient Craft Masonry that the said brethren should be encouraged and properly enabled to proceed and work as heretofore they have been accustomed;

Now, therefore, Know Ye, that we, the said Grand Master, Deputy Grand Master, Senior Grand Warden and Junior Grand Warden o the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of Florida and the masonic Jurisdiction thereunto belonging or appertaining, by and with the consent and probation of said Grand Lodge, as appears of record therein, do hereby constitute:

-  Brother Ben H. Emmerson to be Worshipful Master,
-  Brother Grover C Saffold to be Senior Warden,
-  Brother George M Carlton to be Junior Warden,

Together with all such regular Free Masons as are now, or may hereafter become members thereof, a regularly warranted or chartered Lodge of Free and Accepted masons, according to the old constitutions and the Constitution and laws of said grand Lodge of Florida, by the name, title and designation of Tampa Lodge No. 240.

And we hereby require and ordain that all regular Lodges throughout the world receive, acknowledge and respect them and their regular successors as such; hereby granting and committing to them, and their successors, full power and authority to open and hold a Regular Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons, and by virtue of these presents to confer the degrees of Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft and Master Mason, according to the known and established customs and practices of Freemasonry, and not otherwise; and to elect and choose annually their successors in office and other officers, according to law; and also, to exact from their members such contributions as they shall adjudge necessary for the support of their Lodge, the relief of their brethren in distress ad fees to the Grand Lodge found agreeable to the laws of the Grand Lodge, recommending to the Brethren aforesaid to reverence and obey their superiors in all things lawful and honest, as becomes the honor and harmony of Masons; and to have properly recorded all their acts and doings proper to be written, from time to time; and be ever faithful and dutiful and loyal to their Lodge and the authority under which the same shall be held; all which, by acceptance hereof and organization hereunder, they are holden and engaged to observe; and the Brethren aforesaid, by accepting hereof, do acknowledge and recognize for themselves and their successors, the said Grand Lodge of Florida, and its authority as its superior, and will ever hold  due obligation to the same and obey the laws and mandates thereof.

In testimony whereof, we have hereto set our hands and caused the Grand Secretary of our said Grand Lodge to subscribe his name and affix the seal of our said Grand Lodge.  Done at Jacksonville, State of Florida, this 18th Day of January AL 5917 AD 1917.


M.W. Apelles S. York – Grand Master
R.W. T. Picton Warlow – Deputy Grand Master
R.W. R.H. Cooper – Senior Grand Warden
R.W. Chas H. Ketchum – Junior Grand Warden

Our First Installation of Officers:

The Grand Lodge Officers present that day were:

Fred E. Fletcher - Grand Master
E.C. Harris – Deputy Grand Master
C.E. Baumgartner – Senior Grand Warden
J.W. Williams – Junior Grand Warden
E.T Kendricks – Grand Chaplain – Installing Officer
R.T Joughin – Grand Secretary

The first Officers of Gary Lodge No. 240 were installed:

Ben H. Emmerson – Worshipful Master
Grover C. Saffold – Senior Warden
G. Mark Carlton – Junior Warden
J.M. Buzbee – Tresurer
John A Glover – Secretary
L.W. Sassard – Senior Deacon
A.S. McCurdie – Junior Deacon
James L. Lampp – Tyler

Our Namesake:

The name Gary was officially recognized with the establishment of the Gary post office in 1898. The official plat of "Gary-Town" was recorded in May 1903. The Gary neighborhood included both Gary-Town and Spanish Park, located to its east. The neighborhood's boundaries extended from 26th Street on the west to 40th Street on the east. The population included Anglos, Italians, Spaniards and Cubans. Celery farming played a prominent role in Gary. The neighborhood also included cigar factories, a citrus packing house, dairies, a blacksmith shop, churches, boarding houses and several retail establishments.

Our First Building:

On June 2, 1919 the Gary Masonic Association, a corporation issued a series of 100 bonds, amounting in the aggregate to the sum of $10,000, the payment of which is secured by a mortgage or deed of trust against the property on 1908 N. 36th Street in what is today known as Ybor.  This building was originally the Tierra del Lago Cigar Company.

Built in- 1908 - Original owner: Mr. William H. Streeter, company president in 1908, at a cost of $30,000.

A Change to our Name:

Originally Chartered Gary Lodge No. 240, the name was changed to Tampa Lodge No 240 by Grand Lodge on April 19, 1928.

The Great Depression:

As the Great Depression hit the United States in 1929, the Lodge became a beacon of light for members and their families.  Many of our brothers and families struggled during this time.  Bro. Bob Woodard (also known affectionately as Uncle Bob) provided much financial support to the Lodge and its members during this time It was common practice for the Lodge to serve hot meals for members and their families.

Facing Adversity:

By the early 1970’s the Lodge had dwindled to about 25-30 members and the DDGM at that time warned the Lodge that they were in jeopardy of losing their charter if they did not get more members active and turn things around.  The members held a meeting and determined they were going to do whatever was needed to be done to fix the situation.  Bro. Ralph Gable stepped forward in 1972 and served the Lodge as it’s Senior Warden after never serving as an officer before; he went on to serve as Worshipful Master in 1973.  Bro. Ed Butler affiliated from Fellowship Lodge to serve as the Secretary and he went on to serve as Worshipful Master in 1974.

A New Home:

As the Lodge moved forward in its rebuilding phase, it was determined that a new building was necessary.  The Brothers came together and developed plans for a building in the form of a right angle.  The plans were submitted and approved, and the brothers began laying the blocks for the foundation in 1973.  The Brothers labored over the next year and built the building by hand with help from many volunteers.  Simms Cranes heard about the project and volunteered their services to put up the trusses and then came back a second time to help with the roof installation.  WB Ralph Gable again came to the aid of the Lodge and donated an entire cow for a BBQ.  This event raised over $2000.00. 

The first meeting in the current building was on September 10, 1974.

Celebrating 100 Years:

Tampa Lodge No. 240 arrived at its 100-year anniversary through years of good times and bad, working through diversity and brothers stepping forward to lead the Lodge in its mission, never relenting and never giving up.  The Lodge had grown to 91 members filling its ranks, and looking forward to being a part of the foundation of the next 100 years.  Tampa Lodge No. 240 formally celebrated their 100th Anniversary on April 21, 2018.

Rededication of the Craft:

In 2018, the members of Tampa Lodge No. 240 began an effort to rededicate themselves to improving the Lodge and its improvement of Masonic Ritual.  The Lodge committed to preparing to compete in the 2019 District Ritual Competition.  The Lodge competed for the first time in Lodge history on April 27, 2019.  The Lodge has continued to compete each year and have continued to improve their score each year.

The COVID-19 Pandemic of 2020:

During the early part of 2020 the world was struck by a COVID-19 pandemic.  The Grand Lodge of Florida issued a directive on March 17, 2020 suspending all Lodge Stated and Called Communications until further notice.  On April 26, 2020 the Grand Master issued a directive suspending the Annual Grand Lodge Session; instead the business of voting on the budget and Grand Lodge Officers would take place via electronic voting.  This was a first for Florida Freemasonry and was conducted across many jurisdictions across the United States.  During this unprecedented time, the Officers and Brethren began using technological solutions to hold online educational meetings via video conference. Despite this restriction, the Brethren remained in constant communication and continue the work of the Lodge in a limited state.  On May 31, 2020, the newly elected Grand Master M.W.B.: Thomas L. Turlington issued a directive allowing for Lodges to reopen effective June 1, 2020.  Tampa Lodge No. 240 reopened on Tuesday June 9, 2020; and while this return was welcome for our members, we instituted a high level of safety precautions to ensure our Brothers and family members remained in a healthy state.

The End of an Era:

In 2020 a Strategic Planning Committee was formed for the purpose of defining a future of Tampa Lodge No. 240.  This committee was focused on setting a vision and building a roadmap that would set the Lodge on a solid course towards our next 100-year milestone.  The decision to sell our property was not an easy decision, but after much discussion the Lodge was listed for sale in January of 2022 and is schedule to close on July 27, 2022.  The last Stated Communication held at the building on July 12, 2022 was attended by over 100 Mason, family, friends and guests.  The time capsule was removed from the cornerstone and opened during the meeting to reveal the contents.

Tampa Lodge held its first meeting in Temple Terrace on August 9, 2022.