January 29, 1869: Palestine Lodge No. 79 established in Duluth

On this day in Duluth in 1869, Duluth’s masons received dispensation for their own lodge, to be known as “Palestine Lodge No. 79.” It was the first in Duluth. Its original members included civic leaders Colonel J. B. Culver, J. D. Ray, Franklin W. Ely, and Hayes Mayhew. Meetings were held in Mayhew’s residence “just on the other side of the canal, across Minnesota Point.” The cabin had been built by Culver and William Nettleton in May, 1859, as quarters for the United States Land Office. In 1861 the building was vacated when Luke Marvin and Sidney Luce became register and receiver, respectively, and the business moved to Luce’s warehouse. Judge John Dunphy lived in Mayhew’s building for a year, after which it became “the first public school for the Duluth School District No. 5.” In 1865, it was “also used as the headquarters of Mr. Mayhew and Prof. H. H. Eames and others upon their return from their explorations of the north shore of the lake and Vermilion country.” Historian Walter Van Brunt theorized that it was in that building that the “sensational and alluring rumors to the effect that the explorers had discovered gold in the Vermilion country” began, rumors which “spread like a fire in a pine forest in the dryest season and the highest wind.” The little building was moved to the southwest corner of Second Avenue East and First Street—the site of today’s Clayton-Jackson-McGeigh Memorial—where for some time it was known as the Ready house. In 1889 the Masons of Palestine Lodge built the Temple Opera Block at the northeast corner of Second Avenue East and Superior Street and its adjacent Temple Opera House at 12 North Second Avenue East. In 1904 the Masons moved into a new temple at 4 West 2nd Street and meet their to this day.

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