Nathan Hale Lodge No. 350, F. & A.M.
The end to World War II brought an influx of new Masons to Metropolitan Milwaukee. Home building was resumed and the Milwaukee suburbs grew. Damascus Lodge #290, formed in 1904, had members from throughout the metro area including many worked at south-side companies such as Kearny and Trecker. Several of those who lived in the Southwest part of Milwaukee County and nearby areas formed an informal Masonic club and discussed the extension of Freemasonry into the suburbs. This resulted in 81 Freemasons signing a petition for dispensation to form what would become Nathan Hale Lodge #350 Free and Accepted Masons.
Grand Master Walter Helwig presented the dispensation to these Masons in April 1951 at the Whitnall Park Lutheran Church in Hales Corners. At the time, Wisconsin’s Masonic law required consent of a majority of Milwaukee County Lodges before the Grand Master could issue the dispensation.
Grand Master Helwig reported that these Freemason Lodges approved unanimously. Brother Bart Bastiani was elected the first Master, and Brothers Allen Phillips and Alfred Ziese were the Wardens. The membership grew to 91 by the time the Grand Lodge of Wisconsin issued its charter to Nathan Hale Lodge #350 in June 1951.
The activites of the Hales Corners church grew, and Nathan Hale Lodge was required to find another meeting place. Nathan Hale Lodge moved to Waterford and then to West Allis before they found a two-room schoolhouse at South 112th street and Cold Sprint avenue, in Greenfield, being vacated. One member, Hilbert Krause, owner of a lumber yard, donated or provided at cost most of the materials needed to renovate the building. The refreshment hall in the lower level was named in his honor. Damascus Lodge, having never owned a building of its own became one of Nathan Hale’s tenants.
After making good use of this property for many years, it unfortunately became too expensive to maintain the Greenfield property and in the 1990’s the decision was made to move Nathan Hale’s meetings to the Wisconsin Scottish Rite’s building at 790 North Van Buren Avenue in Milwaukee. The Humphrey Scottish Rite center was home to Nathan Hale Lodge and several other lodges for many years. The building became no longer sustainable for the Scottish Rite and was sold and currently undergoing renovations. In 2015 the Tripoli Shrine tripolishrine.com added a Lodge room and welcomed several area Lodges that were displaced from the Humphrey Scottish Rite Center to begin meeting there. Tripoli Shrine Center tripolishrinecenter.com at 3000 West Wisconsin Ave, Milwaukee is part of the National Register of Historic Places. On November 9, 1925 the ground was broken for the current building designed after North African Moslems which were thought to best exemplify the Shrine ritual. The building features beautiful tile work, sculptures and an impressive dome which peaks at more than 100 feet. The Tripoli Shrine Center is an impressive venue available for rental to host meetings, weddings, and banquets.
Nathan Hale Lodge #350, Lafayette #265 and Freemason’s Lodge #363 currently meet in the at Tripoli Shrine Center in Milwaukee. The Shrine is also home to the Tripoli Shriners, it’s many units and clubs, Tripoli Ladies Auxiliary, and Daughters of the Nile.
The Children's Dyslexia Center www.cdcmilwaukee.com is also housed within Tripoli Shrine. The Dyslexia Center provides free, high-quality, multi-sensory tutorial reading and written language instruction to children with dyslexia/reading disabilities.
Our Namesake Brother Nathan Hale
On June 6, 1755 born at Coventry, Connecticut was the American patriot, Brother Nathan Hale. During battles for New York in the American Revolution he volunteered to seek military intelligence behind enemy lines and was captured on the night of September 21, 1776. Before Brithish General William Howe, Brother Hale admitted to being an American officer and was ordered hanged the following morning. His dying words reportedly were: “I only regret I have but one life to lose for my country.” He was hanged September 22, 1776, at what is now the intersection of Market Street and East Broadway in New York, New York. The martyred Brother Nathan Hale was thought to be a member of St. John’s Regimental Lodge of New York City. No real proof exists of his membership. (Chases; Livingston Masonic Library)