(By David S. Nyce June, 2007, August 2010, and November 2015, including excerpts from "A History of Apex Masonic Lodge #584”, Sept. 8, 1986, by C.E. Stephens, Alan L. Bruner, Melver C. Minton III)
Apex #584 is the second lodge to be formed in Apex, NC. The first lodge was issued a dispensation on Oct. 29, 1875. That was Apex Lodge #349, with eight officers and four members. Brother T. J. Passmore passed away on Sept. 9, 1876. Four members were admitted in 1879, and two withdrew.
Apex Lodge #584 was issued a dispensation on June 1, 1909, and granted a charter on Jan. 12, 1910. L. J. Sears was the first Master of the Lodge. Listed on the charter, as the first Junior Warden, was brother Q. I. Hudson. He was also a charter member of Apex Lodge #349.
With no permanent home, the earliest records of the lodge have been lost. At a stated communication in April of 1961, a committee was formed to investigate the possibility of building a Masonic Temple in Apex, NC. Brother Harvey Johnson was the committee chairman. Fund raising methods were discussed in April of 1962.
In March of 1964, WM G.W. Truelove formed a new committee with himself as chairman, having a mandate from the brethren to pursue the matter as quickly as possible. Brother Johnson reported in May, 1964, that desirable building sites were available and that a decision must be made on the type of structure to be built. There was a choice to be considered, between building a Temple, or an office building with a lodge located within it. WM T.O. Seawell continued the committee for thirty days.
Brother John Gaster Sr. donated a lot to the lodge in July, 1964, stipulating that the Temple be built. The committee was directed to provide two sets of plans: one for a single story and the other for a two story structure. A fund was established to build the Temple. It was decided by the end of July that the Temple would be a two story building. In August, Brother John Newcomb of the Masonic Services Commission was contacted to ascertain the requirements of building a Temple. By the end of December, 1964, $2,463.00 had been collected by the brethren. Brother Truelove, being elected to a second term as Master, donated the cost of his Past Master jewel. Papers were filed with the Masonic Services Commission in April of 1965. Final approval was obtained in May, 1965.
Construction began in early July, 1965, and the cornerstone was laid on July 31 by Grand Master Samuel Andrew Hennis, Jr. Entertainment was provided by the Salem Church Quartet. The bricklayers were on the site in August. Brother John Gaster Sr. and others sought a donor for seating to be installed into the Temple. Mr. W. G. Enlow, acting for Carolina Theaters, Inc., donated the seats.
There were many other donors, but the ones recorded include: Brother J. E. & Sister Atlantic Mann donated the stove, the letter “G” in the East, and with Brother L.E. Johnson of Cary Lodge #198, donated a 60 place setting of stainless steel tableware. Brother E. T. Sears donated the concrete walk in front of the Temple. Brother Dwight & Sister Reba Johnson donated the water fountain. Brother Alex McAllister donated the light outside over the stair. The last meeting at the old lodge hall took place on January 24, 1966.
Notes about the old lodge hall:
It was reported to the author, from several sources, that they believed the old lodge hall was located on the second floor, above the Merchant & Farmers Bank, on Salem and Chatham streets in Apex. The photos below were taken by WB David S. Nyce (the author) in April, 2007. They show Merchant & Farmers Bank name that still remains in the sidewalk and the building at the site, which now has a bakery on the first floor.
However, conflicting information regarding the actual site for the lodge meetings had surfaced.
In the summer of 2008, WB Bruce Ferrell of Green Level Lodge #277 told the author that he clearly remembered going to stated communications in Apex in the old days. He would go through a door from the street, next to the Merchants & Farmers Bank. He would climb a long, straight flight of stairs, and then turn right at the top of the stairs. Part-way up the stairs, he learned after several bumps that he had to duck his head. (Pass through a porch, up a flight of straight stairs and, don’t bump your head?)
On the stairway leading to the space directly above the former location of the bank, no ducking of the head is needed, so that wasn’t the correct former location as was thought. Further investigation by the author has confirmed that Br. Ferrell’s description exactly describes the space above the business that is next to the former M&F Bank space, rather than directly above the bank. That second floor space is now the home of the Mens Extras barber shop.
So, it is now known for certain that the Apex Lodge #584 stated communications taking place directly before building of the Temple, were held on the second floor at 103 North Salem Street.
Building of the Temple:
The first meeting in the new Temple on Williams street was an open house and installation of officers held on February 4, 1966. Brother L. G. Jordan had memorized the entire installation ceremony, which was an outstanding achievement, according to Right Worshipful Brother Charlie Harris, Past Grand Master of North Carolina and Grand Secretary Emeritus, who was present on that night. Refreshments were served by Apex Chapter #272 of the Order of the Eastern Star.
Many additions and improvements to the Temple have been made since its completion. Paving of the driveway and parking lot was donated by our neighbor at that time: Dr. , Brother, and Past Grand Master Eddie P. Stiles. MWB Stiles was 1976 Grand Master of North Carolina during the bicentennial of the Grand Lodge of North Carolina.
Some other additions and improvements made over the years include: A public address system was given by Sister Arlene Barker and her husband Alpha. A North Carolina state flag was presented by Sister Charlotte Hall. A Christian flag was presented by Sister Atlantic Mann. Since the completion of the Temple and paying off of the debt, a new roof was added, and the first floor was transformed into a more cheerful fellowship hall.
Some later improvements include repaving the parking lot in 2004, while Brother Stanley Young was master. Also in 2004, in accordance with the revised Apex sign ordinance, the lighted sign was removed from the lawn and mounted to the building.
As Master in 2005, WB David Nyce instituted a continuing program at the Masonic Home for Children at Oxford, to help the kids learn to build and fly model airplanes and rockets. During the spring through fall, building sessions are conducted in which each child builds their own airplane or rocket. Other times, they fly airplanes provided by WB Nyce. The Lodge provides some financial support for this effort each year.
In 2006, WB Joe Hartley donated a section of highly durable flooring material & installation, at the first floor entryway.
The cost of a canvas awning with aluminum frame was donated by Cary Lodge #198, being designed and procured by WB David Nyce and installed by WBs James Dority, Patrick Medlin, and Dave Nyce.
In 2007, WB Ed Dresp began preparing meals for the lodge at every stated communication, and also at selected additional events. Having refined his culinary skills as cook on a US submarine, WB Dresp presented a fine array of tasty meals. This helped to boost attendance at the stated communications.
Also in 2007, the fellowship hall was named for WB LeRoy Goodwin, in recognition of his great dedication and effort to take care of the lodge, coach, and guide the members. This was done in loving memory of Brother Goodwin after his passing in March of 2007.
A plaque having a photo of WB Goodwin hangs in the fellowship hall. WB Goodwin once told the author that he always wanted his name to be pronounced LeRoy (with the accent on the second syllable), but gave up because everyone continued to pronounce it as “Leeroy”.
Apex Lodge #584 celebrated its centennial in the year 2010. As Master in 2005, WB David Nyce had formed a Special Committee to prepare for the event. The celebration included a parade by the AMRAN Shriners, speakers, and a free lunch, open to the public. The lunch was prepared by WB Ed Dresp. The event was emceed by WB David Nyce, and the speakers included MW Deputy Grand Master of NC: Lewis Ledford; Ambassador of the town of Apex: J. C. Knowles; and Apex #584 Lodge Master of 2010, WB Gary Shook. A stage, public address system, and a portable power generator were all supplied by then newly-raised master mason Ed Medlin. A fun time was had by all, but a lot of hotdogs left-over. After a few hotdog dinners at the lodge, the remaining hotdogs were donated to a local charity.
In 2011, WB Oscar F. Sears was elected as WM, continuing in the following century that which had been started in 1910 with Lon J. Sears as the first Master of Apex Lodge #584.
In 2011, a letter from Master Oscar Sears was sent to all Apex #584 members by secretary WB Tony King, asking for monetary donations to support lodge improvements. The improvements planned for 2011 included some repairs, as well as new restrooms on the first floor, and an expanded and modernized kitchen. Chief cook WB Ed Dresp, had requested some specific equipment to support extended kitchen capabilities. Repairs, and the new rest room on the first floor, were completed in 2011 and 2012 under the direction of Building & Grounds chairman Joe Hartley, and with the help of Br Ed Medlin and WB Pat Medlin.
As Master in 2013, WB Quinton E. Cooke established the Lion’s Paw award, in honor of WB Oscar Sears. The Lion’s Paw is to be awarded annually by the Master to a brother who best exemplifies not only the qualities of friendship, morality, and brother love, but also strength and support of the craft as well as the master.
As Master in 2014, WB Dave Nyce presented an award plaque that bestowed the official title of Chief Cook & Bottle Washer to PM Ed Dresp for his culinary skills and dedication to the lodge and the community. A special award of The Holy Pocket Knife was awarded to PM Milton Shook for his dedicated work over the years in organizing charity raffles as well as originating and mastering the Apex Lodge #584 website. Also in 2014, a masonic pocket knife was presented by the Master to each of the following masons: WB Gene English: long-time treasurer, WB Tony King: coach, secretary and our only lecturer, Joe Hartley: taking care of building & grounds, Jim Dority: long-time volunteer for everything, Ed Medlin and Jason Stephenson: using heavy equipment and laying a new drain to prevent water from coming through the lodge wall. WB Nyce named WB Tony King as the first recipient of the Lion’s Paw award, with his name engraved on the plaque. In 2014, a new charity fund-raiser (besides the usual firearms raffles) was held. It was a food and wine pairing at a local Italian restaurant. Our sponsor paid for the food and also donated $1,000. So, with 46 attendees each making a $20 donation, funds received for the event were $1,920.
In 2015, WB Dresp had other committments, and Br. Paul Madritch took over the duties of cook for the odge, continuing in the tradition of preparing gourmet meals to which the brothers have become accustomed. Br Ed Medlin removed the tile from the fellowship hall and coated the concrete floor with epoxy paint.
The author is continuing research (at Grand Lodge facilities as well as the Historic Maynard Pearson House) to find additional information of historic note, including the question of any additional meeting places besides at 103 N Salem St.
Pictured: Past Grand Master
Dr. Eddie P. Stiles
Anyone able to provide corrections or additional Apex Lodge history is asked to provide same to David Nyce, PM.