Seaboard Lodge No. 56 A.F. & A.M. - Today
Seaboard Lodge No. 56, A.F. & A.M. was officially charted at the end of 1868 and has a history deeply rooted in Portsmouth, VA. The lodge as it exists today includes the members of Seaboard # 56 and two additional lodges that merged with Seaboard. Washington-Lafayette # 176 merged with Seaboard # 56 in 2013 and Tidal Wave # 273 merged with Seaboard # 56 in 2014. On December 15th, 2018 Seaboard Lodge No. 56 celebrated their 150th year in Freemasonry. Seaboard 56 currently meets at 3401 Cedar Lane, Portsmouth, VA 23703 on the Third Tuesday of each month. Up until the end of 2018, Seaboard No. 56 had been part of the 34th Masonic District in Virginia which included 4 Portsmouth Lodges (Seaboard 56, Portsmouth 100, Western Branch 189, and Churchland 276). The 4 lodges of the 34th Masonic District merged with the 3 Suffolk, VA based lodges (Suffolk 30, Nansemond 77, and McAlister 185) in the 33rd Masonic District and became the 33rd Masonic District comprising of 7 lodges.
Seaboard Lodge No. 56 A.F. & A.M - History
On the evening of Wednesday, May 20, 1868, thirteen Master Masons, mostly from Portsmouth Naval Lodge No. 100, met for the purpose of forming a new Master Masons Lodge. Brother D. S. Walton was elected chairman and Brother Charles T. Myers was elected secretary serving with Brothers D. D. Fiske, C.R. McAlpine, D. D. Carr, W. E. Firman, C. W. Murdaugh, and James Williamson to draw up papers and recommend suitable officers for the new Lodge. In addition to the above, Brothers Joseph Virnelson, J. C. Kaufman, W. W. Rew, D. R. Kay and John White were present.
A request for dispensation was presented for action to form the new Lodge on May 22, 1868. It recommend Past Master Charles R. McAlpine, as Worshipful Master; Past Master C. W. Murdaugh, Senior Warden; and Past Master John J. Carr, Junior Warden; with Brother Augus Buff, secretary. Permission was requested of Portsmouth Naval Lodge No. 100 and Mt. Horab Royal Chapter No. 11 to meet in their hall until permanent arrangements could be made for a place to hold meetings.
A meeting was held on the afternoon of June 15, 1868, and it was announced that a dispensation had been received empowering the Lodge to work. On June 29, it was announced that application had been made to Portsmouth Naval Lodge No. 100 and Mt. Horab Royal Arch Chapter No. 11 for use of their meeting hall, and that Past Master James Williamson in behalf of Mt. Vernon Lodge No. 166 offered the loan of their jewels and aprons until Seaboard Lodge could procure these articles.
On Wednesday, July 1, 1868, this Lodge received its first two petitions, those of Samuel Cutherell and James K. Langhorne. These Brethren were raised to the degree of Master Mason on August 26, 1868. Fees for the degrees were $10.00 with the petition and $10.00 before each degree.
The lodge was officially chartered on December 15, 1868. On January 6, 1869, it was announced that a charter had been granted under the designation of Seaboard Lodge No. 56.
Seaboard Lodge met on the 4th Monday at the Masonic Temple in Portsmouth (467 Court Street) until 1946 when it was changed to the current meeting date of 1946. The lodge building currently occupied by Seaboard was owned by Tidal Wave Lodge (218 Williamson Road). Seaboard Lodge was holding their Stated Communications in Tidal Wave's building up until the merger in 2014. The Williamson Road building was plagued with a number of issues and was sold in 2020. Seaboard was meeting at the Portsmouth Scottish Rite Temple from 2019-2021 when it was sold. Seaboard currently meets at the Churchland Masonic Temple at 5717 High Street in Portsmouth.
Past Grand Masters
Most Worshipful William Baylor McChesney was the Grand Master of Masons in Virginia in 1910 and 1911. Rockingham Union Lodge No. 27 was his Master Lodge. He was an honorary member of Seaboard 56.
Most Worshipful William Lee Davis was the Grand Master of Masons in Virginia in 1928. St. John's Lodge No. 36 was his Mother Lodge.
Most Worshipful Rudolph Reynolds Cooke was the Grand Master of Masons in Virginia in 1951. Seaboard Lodge 56 was his Mother Lodge and he was the Worshipful Master of the lodge in 1928.
Seaboards Charter Senior Warden, Claude Murdaugh was General John A. Lejeune's Grandfather. General Lejeune was the 13th Commandant of the Marine Corps. Upon retiring after 40 years of service he became the Superintendent of Virginia Military Institute (VMI). Marines around the world read his Birthday Message to the Corps on November 10th each year. John A Lejeune was a Master Mason being first introduced and raised to that degree in Coblenz, Germany. John A Lejeune Masonic Lodge No. 350 was named after him and he was present for there first Stated Communication on March 11, 1925 were he was elected to honorary membership. You can read more this lodge at http://www.jal350afam.org/history/
Washington-Lafayette Lodge No. 176 A.F. & A.M. - History
Washington-Lafayette Lodge No. 176 was chartered on February 12, 1948 as part of the 34th Masonic District. They met at the Scottish Rite Temple located at 3401 Cedar Lane, Portsmouth, VA. Their Stated Communications were held on the Second Monday of the month. The lodge jewels and aprons currently worn by Seaboard 56 officer's are from Washington-Layfayette Lodge. These jewels and aprons were used most recently in a statewide One Day Conferral held on August 4th, 2018 and were worn by Master Masons from the 12th, 31st, 32nd, 33rd, and 34th Masonic Districts during the ritual work and conferral of degrees.
Past Grand Masters
Most Worshipful Clarence Dearborn Freeman was a member of the lodge and Grand Master of Masons in Virginia in 1941. His Mother Lodge was Naval Lodge No. 100 in Portsmouth, VA.
Washinton-Lafayette Lodge No. 176 is a Member Lodge of the Society of Washington Lodges. The George Washington Masonic National Memorial. This membership passed to Seaboard 56 when the lodges merged.
Tidal Wave Lodge No. 273 A.F. & A.M. - History
Tidal Wave Lodge No. 273 was chartered on December 15, 1899 as part of the 34th Masonic District. They met at 218 Williamson Road, Portsmouth, VA on the First Tuesday of the month. The lodge located at 218 Williamson Road is currently the lodge used by Seaboard No. 56. Tidal Wave Lodge No. 273 A.F.&A.M held it's last stated communication on November 4th, 2014.
Past Grand Masters
Most Worshipful Thomas Penn Coleman was a member of the lodge and Grand Master of Masons in Virginia in 1946. His Mother Lodge was Atlantic Lodge No. 2 in Norfolk, VA.
Naphtali Lodge No. 56
According to Masonic Records from the Grand Lodge of Virginia, there was a lodge No. 56 before Seaboard. On December 11th, 1798, the Lodge of Naphtali or Naphtali Lodge was formed. The following information was obtained from the Proceedings of Grand Lodge of VA 1794 - 1850 which was presented to Seaboard Lodge No. 56 by Worshipful C. R. McAlpine on May 5th 1869. C.R. McAlpine was the first Worshipful Master of Seaboard Lodge No. 56.
In 1801, the Officers of the lodge were:
John K. Read - Master, William Thompson - Senior Warden, William Sharp - Junior Warden, John Saunders Jr - Secretary, William Be. Lamb - Treasurer, John Camp - Senior Deacon, William Rogers - Junior Deacon, William Blythe - Steward, Benjamin Wolfe - Affifant Steward, Thomas Jandrell - Perfuivant, and John Warrington - Tyler. They had 5 Past Masters listed, 90 Master Masons, 7 Fellowcrafts, and 7 Entered Apprentices. This record was not complete with records from each year but the lodge was last listed in the records of 1839 but when they resumed in 1850 it was no longer included in the list of Working Lodges.
Here is a listing of their Worshipful Masters
1799 - 1801 John K. Read
1802 - William Thompson
1803 - 1804 William Sharp
1805 - No record
1806 - William Thompson
1807 - 1811 No record
1812 - George W. Camp
1813 - 1829 No record
1830 - James Mitchell. Joseph H Robertson and James Willoughboy were listed as Past Masters
1831 - John M. Tazwell
1832 - 1833 No record
1834 - John C. Hodge. Jacob Vikery listed as Past Master
1835 - John C. Hodge
1836 - 1838 No record
1839 - James Willoughboy
Seaboard Lodge in its current charter dates back to 1868 and 1869 however "56" dates back to 1798 in Virginia.
Minerva Lodge No. 56
The Proceedings from the Grand Lodge of Virginia in 1861 show the existence of another "56" lodge. The Minerva Lodge met at Cabell Court-house on the Saturday of, or preceding the Full Moon in each month. The lodge was located in West Virginia. The lodge didn't return their listing of officers or members and did not have a representative at Grand Lodge. The Proceedings from 1866 no longer showed Minerva as a working lodge under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Virginia however they did show in the 1867 proceedings. Starting in 1868, "56" showed as Seaboard Lodge No. 56.