OXFORD – June 16, the Oxford Lodge No. 175 F. & A.M. celebrated their landmark anniversary of one and a half centuries in grand style! This community service fraternity has not only survived, but they are thriving. Masonic Lodge members came from all over New York State to dine and celebrate with them in the United Church of Oxford (UCO) Main Street Chapel Building, where the Lodge has been meeting since 1985. The United Brass Quartet played, and a traditional Rededication Service was held with ancient rituals marking the historic, auspicious event. The history of the formation of the Oxford Lodge and their meeting places is a trip down Oxford’s annals.
The Oxford Masonic Lodge was organized under dispensation on December 11, 1861 and chartered on June 14, 1862. In the beginning, they were the Oxford Lodge No. 235 F. & A.M. In March 1815 to May 1817, they met in the furnished room of Eben Enos. From then to nearly the end of 1823, they met in the long room of Joseph Phillips. From that same month until May of 1831 they met in the Clarke Building, but later that year they disbanded.
The Chenango Valley Lodge had the number 175. They met from July 1850 until November 1861 in the Cyrus Tuttle Building in Oxford. When the Oxford Lodge decided to regroup, the Chenango Valley Lodge disbanded. Thus Oxford received their number, 175, in December 1861.
For one year, the Oxford Lodge No. 175 F. & A.M. met at the William G. Sands building - until June 1862. Then, they decided to meet at the Clarke Block until December of that year when they switched to “Lewis Hall” (the Navy Island Block). Late in 1881 until Spring 1895, they met in the J. B. Brown Building. Then for forty-six years -until October 1941- they met at the National Bank of Oxford on the third floor. The Lodge moved their meeting location from the Bank to the second floor of the Navy Island Block, meeting there for the next forty-four years - until 1985 when they started meeting in the UCO chapel building.
An interesting side note was about an unfortunate fire. On January 2, 1961, fire broke out in the Navy Island Block Lodge rooms. The furniture and nearly all of the contents were destroyed. Only one thing remained, the Bible on the Altar … it was unharmed! Remodeling took place and the group met at the Norwich Lodge No. 302 F. & A.M. rooms. They returned to Oxford’s Navy Island rooms in April.