Green Grove Masonic Lodge: “Looking Back”

Reprinted here by special permission of the author, Cindy Beckman, a retired Conway High School history teacher who writes local history.

In the days before the government assumed responsibility for assisting those in need, men often joined lodges or fraternities not just for the fellowship but so their family members would be cared for during times when illness or some other calamity
came knocking.

Although the Masonic lodge has been one of the most enduring fraternal organizations in Faulkner County, there were others that existed for a period of time such as the Royal Arch, the Knights of Pythias and the Odd Fellows. Oftentimes, men might be members of more than one group.

Green Grove Masonic Lodge #107 is Conway’s chapter. It is called “Green Grove” because it was originally organized at the Green Grove Post Office in 1856. The Green Grove community was located a quarter-mile west of Cadron settlement on the Old Wire Road and consisted of a church, store, inn and post office that served the Cadron area.

Many of the early lodge meetings lasted for two days. Men traveled from the Cadron, East Fork, Pleasant Grove and Round Mountain communities to attend. Green Grove Lodge continued to meet throughout the Civil War but it was a difficult time since some lodge members served in the Union army while others served in the Confederate army.

During the Reconstruction period, Green Grove Lodge moved its location five times. Captain Bryant Vann King, who served in the Confederacy, became Worshipful Master of Green Grove Lodge in 1865 and in May, 1865, the Lodge voted to move the meetings to an “East Fork Meeting House” (location unknown). Lodge members met there a few times and then voted to move the meetings to a meeting house near the mouth of the Cadron, one mile from the original lodge.

In January, 1866, the lodge contracted for a meeting place in King’s gin house north of King’s Bridge. The East Fork Post Office was also located there with King serving as postmaster. Finally, in November, 1871, the Lodge voted to move to Conway Station.

The first meeting hall in Conway was the second story of a frame building owned by the Methodist Mission. It was located on the southwest corner of Front and Mill Streets. The first floor was occupied by the Methodist Mission and the seat of justice for Conway Station.

The building burned in 1884 so Green Grove Lodge shared a building on south Front Street with the Royal Arch Chapter #80 and the Knights of Pythias. They also met at Shettles’ Gin on Front Street in the late 1880s. Records indicate the lodge then met in the Hardin and Harton building until the late 1890s.

Dr. Joseph Steven Westerfield, originally a member of the Greenbrier Lodge #290, became Worshipful Master in 1895, serving until 1926. In 1906, he donated property on the southeast corner of Front and Smith streets where a two-story brick building was constructed. The building would serve as the lodge hall for the next 70 years.

On the 82nd anniversary (1938) of the Green Grove Lodge’s establishment, a ceremony would be held at the original site at Green Grove. Lodge members erected a stone marker at the former Green Grove Post Office which had served as the first lodge hall.

In 1976, the lodge bought a former Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant and relocated to Harkrider Street. Today the Green Grove Lodge still meets in this white brick building located on the east side of Harkrider just south of Bruce Street.

When the lodge was relocated, the cornerstone was removed from the northwest corner of the Front Street building. The place where the cornerstone used to be is still visible. The building is now occupied by Irby School of Dance.

Green Grove Lodge #107 has now been continuous operation for 160 years. It has survived all the growth and change that has taken place in Conway and serves as a link between the past and present.