Masonic Temple

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The image to the left shows the proposed Masonic Temple that was to built in Niles, Ohio


The image to the left shows the proposed Masonic Temple that was to built in Niles, Ohio.

History of Ida McKinley Chapter #229
Order of Eastern Star
1906 ~ 2007

On January 24, 1906 , thirty five people met at the Mahoning Lodge #394 Free and Accepted Masons to take action in the matter of organizing a Chapter of the Order of Eastern Star. A petition asking for a dispensation to institute a Chapter was sent to Grand Patron, J. M. Longnecker, signed by the thirty five people present. This petition being granted on January 29, 1906, the group met again on February 12, 1906 at which time the name of Ida McKinley was chosen because the meeting hall was located where William McKinley’s birthplace had stood and the dispensation was granted on his birthday. President McKinley died on September 14, 1901 and Mrs. McKinley passed away in 1907. There is no record of her having belonged to Eastern Star.

The image to the left shows the Masonic Temple as it appeared in the 1930s.

The image to the left shows the Masonic Temple as it appeared in the 1930s.

On February 16, 1906 Ida McKinley Chapter #229 was instituted by Morning Light Chapter #80 of Warren. Margaretta Thomas Chingan was a charter member and she served as Worthy Matron in 1910 and in 1911. It was interesting to note that $6.oo was paid for the special street car which brought the Warren Chapter to Niles for the occasion. At the first inspection held on October 5, 1906 a supper was served at $.35 a plate. Electricity was installed in the meeting hall in May 1909.
On March 11, 1922 Ida McKinley Chapter instituted Sunrise Chapter #458 in Girard. Mable McCaughtry was Worthy Matron and her Chapter dress is now in the collection of items at the Ward Thomas Museum.
Ida McKinley Chapter met at the Mahoning Lodge until July 20, 1923 when members met in the new Masonic Temple located at 22 West Church Street. Many years of preparation made this building possible, due to a special building fund. Eastern Star furnished the kitchen, ladies parlor, and dressing room and helped to pay for the furniture in the Lodge Room.

The image to the left shows the Masonic Temple as it appeared in 2011.

The image to the left shows the Masonic Temple as it appeared in 1960s.

The Chapter served its first Mahoning Valley McKinley Club Banquet in 1947. This was a huge undertaking because there are no kitchen facilities at the McKinley Memorial Auditorium where the annual dinner is held. The food was prepared in the Temple kitchen and transported to the Memorial by truck where servers managed to get hot meals to the many dignitaries and guests to enjoy. This tradition continued until the members were no longer able to undertake this task. Local caterers serve the banquet now.

Profits from serving the McKinley Banquet helped to finance installation of the elevator in 1947, chairs for the dining room in 1965 and tables in 1967. The Chapter gave $100.00 to the building fund of the McKinley Memorial, dedicated October 5, 1917 and has given to the Red Cross and various Community Funds over the years.

The 100th Birthday celebration was held on February 17, 2006 with a dinner served before the stated meeting. After the closing of the Chapter, the officers presented the beautiful Floral Degree which was brought from Michigan to Niles by Clara Lowendorf, who served as Worthy Matron in 1914 and 1915. Birthday cake was then enjoyed in Fellowship Hall.

The image to the left shows the detail of the front entrance to the Masonic Temple.

The image to the left shows the detail of the front entrance to the Masonic Temple.

Due to declining membership and inability to elect line officers, members voted on December 15, 2006 to merge with Opal Chapter #181 in Cortland. The final meeting of Ida McKinley Chapter was held at the Temple in Niles on March 16, 2007.

Opal Chapter welcomed Ida McKinley Chapter at a special merger ceremony held at the Cortland Masonic Lodge on March 27, 2007.



The image to the left shows the ceremony of the Eastern Star.

The image to the left shows the ceremony of the Eastern Star.

To give credit where credit is due, I have summarized Chapter history, compiled by Pauline Crofford, Worthy Matron 1935 and Helen Crofford, Worthy Matron 1968 and 1974. I added the final chapter.

Nancy Malone, Worthy Matron 1973



The following article was written by
Nancy Malone, Worthy Matron 1973, Ida McKinley Chapter

The ninety-fourth Mahoning Valley McKinley Club Annual Banquet was held on Friday evening, January 30, 2009. The banquet is held in the auditorium of the National McKinley Birthplace Memorial, dedicated in 1917 to honor President William McKinley born in Niles, Ohio on January 29, 1843. There are no kitchen facilities at the Memorial, so cooking and serving a sit-down dinner for many guests requires much advance planning.

Tables are set up in the entryway to the auditorium where containers of hot food are placed. The plates are filled by one group of servers, and another crew is on deck to distribute the hot meal to guests seated at round tables, with white tablecloths and decorated with flags and red carnations. President McKinley often wore a red carnation in his lapel, and thus the red carnation is the state flower of Ohio.

The Ida McKinley Chapter, Order of the Eastern Star was active in Niles from 1906-2007 and for many years, members of Ida McKinley Chapter prepared and served the McKinley Banquet. Preparations for the banquet began in early January when numerous committees were organized. The Chapter Officers spent Saturday taking inventory and cleaning the kitchen at the Niles Masonic Temple, where the food was prepared. Dinner plates were loaded onto carts and cups, glasses, silverware, etc. were packed into bushel baskets all to be transported from the Temple, across the street to the Memorial. The week of the banquet, tables had to be set and decorated, and two members of “Star” were in charge of serving the honored guests who sat at the Speakers Table on the stage.

The evening of the banque,t one committee was responsible for placing rolls, salad, and dessert at each place before the 6:30 welcome by the McKinley Club President. The plate-filling members were at their station in the entryway waiting for the roasters of meat, potatoes, gravy, and vegetables to be brought by truck, from the Temple kitchen by male “Star” members and Masonic brothers. Plate servers were in line waiting to place the hot meal in front of each guest as quickly as possible.

While the program was going on, the workers would go to the Temple to eat. As soon as the meeting was adjourned, clean up began. This involved transporting back to the Temple everything that was brought to the Memorial and every dish, silver, pot and pan had to be washed and put away. Before the 1970’s the Temple kitchen did not have a dishwasher! Many people will remember the delicious meals the Ida McKinley Chapter served at the McKinley Banquet under nearly impossible conditions. Considering this event takes place in the dead of winter with all types of weather conditions, the meals were always hot and on time. Most of the 350 guests never knew what was going on behind the scene.

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