On December 20, 1837, at mid-afternoon, the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of the Republic of Texas of Free and Accepted York Masons was organized in the Senate Chambers in the City of Houston.
In 1987, the Masons of the Lone Star State joined in an enthusiastic celebration of the Masonic Sesquicentennial, observing 150 years of progress in Texas Freemasonry.
On August 20, 1987, Claud L. Austin Lodge No. 1450 (nee Downtown Daylight Lodge) was set to work under Dispensation by Most Worshipful John E. Kelly, the Sesquicentennial Grand Master. Then, on December 3rd, representatives of the Lodge appeared before the Grand Lodge “Committee of Lodges Under Dispensation” to present the Petition for Charter. The Committee response was favorable and upon their recommendation, on December 4, 1987, the Grand Lodge voted its approval.
On December 20, 1987, as the curtain dropped on the Sesquicentennial year, it was most fitting that on the same date and at the exact hour of 3:00 p.m., 150 years after the organization of the Grand Lodge of Texas, that Claud L. Austin Lodge received its Charter from the hand of the presiding Grand Master, Most Worshipful Graham H. Childress.
Having been organized in due and ancient form and being well founded upon the fundamental ideals and principles embodied in our Fraternity, Claud L. Austin Lodge is dedicated to another important aspect of Freemasonry. Because the greater emphasis of many lodges seems to be more on organizational and ritualistic matters and somewhat less on the formal practice of fellowship, this Lodge is concerned to a greater degree with Masonic conviviality. One of the avowed purposes of the Lodge is to serve the Masonic community, by precept and example, as a beacon for the revival of Masonic fellowship and conviviality.
The Lodge is unique in several aspects, not the least of which is a membership consisting of many leaders of our Fraternity. At the time of Charter, there was a total of seventy-seven members, most having served in the Fraternity in various roles of leadership and all of whom held dual memberships in other Craft lodges.
The members of the Lodge exemplify service beyond the Craft in supporting the Appendant Bodies. All members, at the time Chartered, belonged to the Scottish Rite, and of these, fifteen were Knights Commander of the Court of Honor and thirty-eight held the Rank and Decoration of 33rd Degree Inspector General Honorary. Most were York Rite Masons and had served in offices of that Rite. Of the large number of Shriners, many were current or past members of the Divan. Finally, it is noteworthy that the entire Lodge has endowed Memberships in support of the Grand Lodge program and as a tribute to the Lodge.
Of special interest is the fact that the four elected Grand Lodge Officers who signed the Charter were members of the Lodge: MW Graham H Childress, Grand Master; RW Leonard P Harvey, Deputy Grand Master; RW A D Hanna, Grand Senior Warden; and R W Fred E Allen, Grand Junior Warden.
Ten distinguished members of the Lodge have worn the Purple of our Fraternity. They are R:W: Claud L. Austin, Grand Master in 1944; and at the time of the Charter, the senior living Past Grand Master; R:W: Robert L. Dillard, Jr., Grand Master in 1962 and Charter Master of the Lodge; R:W: John E. Kelly, the Sesquicentennial Grand Master who set the Loge to work U.D.; R:W: Graham H. Childress, Grand Master in 1988; R:W: Leonard P. Harvey, Grand Master in 1989; R:W: A.D. Hanna, Grand Master in 1990; R:W: Fred E. Allen, Grand Master in 1991; R:W: Robert P. Walker, Grand Master in 1995; and R:W: Joseph W. Regian, Grand Master in 1997; R:W: Wendell P. Miller, Grand Master in 2016.
If, in the established customs of Freemasonry, there were provisions for the formal recognition of a Patriarch of a lodge, without question, Brother Claud L. Austin would have been so named. Early action of the Lodge did recognize Brother Austin’s many years of dedicated and distinguished service to the Craft. In 1990, with unanimous consent of the membership, the Lodge, which started out as Downtown Daylight Lodge, U.D. was renamed Claud L. Austin Lodge No. 1450, to honor a devoted and gentle servant of the Craft.
Looking back on the historic moment of the Texas Sesquicentennial, the Lodge recalls the words of R:W: John E. Kelly in his “fervent hope that each one of us will go forth with a new boldness of vision and a sense of purpose – excited and enthused – ready for the second 150 years.” The Lodge hopes to accomplish this goal with a marked rededication to friendship, fellowship, and brotherly love, so typical of the life of Claud L. Austin, Past Grand Master.
Claud L. Austin Lodge No. 1450 practices a tradition that is somewhat unique in that it is not esoteric, and not a part of the Grand Lodge Law and not practiced by all Lodges in the State of Texas. It is practiced by many Lodges, however, and is quite acceptable.
The top three principle Lodge Officers wear the proper jewels of their offices during Lodge meetings. These jewels are symbolic of each office and must be worn as proper Masonic attire. The top three elected officers are the Master and the Senior and Junior Wardens. The jewels corresponding to each office are the square, the level, and the plumb, in that order. Small lapel pins, called Traveling Jewels, reflecting these symbols were purchased by the Lodge and are to be worn by these officers on their lapels during their term of office. At the beginning of each Masonic year, the jewels are to be passed on to the new successor officers at the altar, immediately after the installation ceremony.
Each officer is responsible for the Traveling Jewel during the term of his office and, if lost, must replace it at his own expense.