History of Freemasonry in Gympie

The history of Freemasonry in Gympie is almost as old as the town itself, and the old Masonic Hall is one of the oldest buildings that has survived from the Gold Rush days. It is situated at 8 Duke Street alongside the Freemasons Hotel, which obviously derived its name from the adjoining hall. There is no foundation stone or any records to tell us precisely when it was built, but a hall was certainly completed in time for the inaugural meeting of the Nashville Lodge on the 23rd March 1869. When it became apparent that the town was to be named Gympie out of respect for the areas prolifically growing stinging tree known by the local aboriginals as Gimpi-Gimpi the petitioners made a further request to change the name to the Pioneer Lodge of Gympie.

In 1884 a second Lodge was formed like Pioneer it was underGympie-Temple-1901 the English Constitution and was named after Queen Victoria’s youngest son Prince Leopold. Gympie was growing and so was masonry, two years later a third lodge emerged this time under the Irish Constitution it was named after Lord Dufferin one of the best known and liked Irish diplomats of the 19th century.

 

In 1889, the Pioneer, Prince Leopold and Lord Dufferin Lodges, purchased the site where the Masonic Temple is now situated. The site had recently been vacated by the Gympie General Hospital and now became the property of the three lodges. Building was set back by the disastrous flood of 1893, it was not until 1899 that the lodges felt that they could now finance the proposition.

 

Masonry flourished in Gympie in the Eighteen Nineties with four new charters granted. Braemar Lodge was consecrated under the Scottish Constitution on 10th December 1894 out of a desire among Masons with scottish backgrounds to form a lodge. Its founders showed no interest in the Duke Street Masonic Hall choosing instead to hold their consecration meeting in the Rechabites Hall and changing soon after to the Oddfellows Hall where they met until 1921. The taste for Scottish Freemasonry had now been renewed and over the next few months several of the Braemar brethren became active in moves to establish a Royal Arch Chapter. Pioneer’s foundation Master Henry King had tried unsuccessfully to form a chapter 26 years earlier. On the 25th January 1896 the Gympie Royal Arch Chapter Scottish Constitution was consecrated in the Oddfellows Hall. The 23rd August 1897 saw the consecration of a second Scottish lodge and naturally it was named Gympie Lodge. It chose the Commercial Chambers as a meeting place.

Gympie-Temple-2001004

 

In 1899 Pioneer, Prince Leopold and Lord Dufferin Lodges combined to form a Building Committee. At the commencement of the building, it was decided to lay two corner stones, as two Grand Lodges were involved, and on 14th February 1901, two separate ceremonies were held, to conform to the two Grand Lodges under which the three Lodges held their charters.

 

From 1916 to 1920 there was a large increase in the numbers joining Freemasonry, the total Gympie membership reaching almost one thousand. When the Great Depression struck in 1930, possible amalgamation of some Lodges was considered, but fortunately it was possible for each Lodge to retain it's identity, though all were labouring under financial stress. In 1936 the Gympie Chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star was formed for the women in Freemasonry, and met at the Oddfellows Hall in Appolonian Vale until the late 60's when they moved their meetings to the Gympie Masonic Centre. In 2012, Kin Kin Lodge decided to leave Kin Kin and meet at this Centre in Gympie.


Happily, the six Lodges, Royal Arch and the Order of the Eastern Star weathered the period by the concerted effort of officers and members, though there were some resignations and membership was reduced. In the following years the Lodges continued to prosper in peace and in war under the guidance of many distinguished Worshipful Masters.