Friendship Lodge is the first fresh water lodge in the state of Rhode Island, and some even say possibly it is the first in the country. A fresh water lodge is any lodge that is built away from the ocean. Up until Friendship was created, all of the state lodges where built on, or near the ocean or the bay. There was a need in Rhode Island for a fresh water lodge, for there were a number of masons that did not have a convenient place to meet. These masons lived in the North West corner of the state, too far away from any of the 6 existing lodges in the state. In the year of 1800 this all changed. A group of men from the area of Glocester took the necessary steps to form a lodge of their own.
The first meeting of Friendship Lodge was held at the home of Jesse Smith on, March 13, 1800. A sum of $9.93 was paid to obtain the lodge’s dispensation from the Grand Lodge of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. The first officers were elected on May 5, 1800, and dispensation was granted shortly after on June 25, 1800. Each person that attended the meetings was charged a fee of $.25; $.37½ if they happened to have taken their horse with them to be stabled. Each member also had a quarterly membership fee of $.25
Friendship Lodge started out hosting it’s meetings in private residence, and in rooms within local taverns. In 1802 the members of Friendship Lodge cast a unanimous vote to build their permanent home in Chepachet, RI. The lodge was completed in December of that same year. The lodge had shared the property with a privately run bank. The bank functioned on the first floor, and the lodge was located on the second. The buildings official dedication took place on December 7, 1802.
Friendship Lodge ran under disposition till 1805, which is when a charter was granted from the Grand Lodge. On October 21, 1805 Friendship Lodge # 7 was consecrated from the Grand Lodge, and the officers were officially installed.
In 1850 Friendship Lodge was granted permission from the Grand Lodge to alternate it’s meetings between the lodge in Chepachet and the town of Burrillville. This was done due to the growing number of members from the Burrillville area. Some of the Burrillville members in 1867 started the process to obtain their own lodge. In 1879 Burrillville was granted its own lodge, Granite Lodge.
In 1884 Friendship lodge took over complete ownership of the building in which the lodge was located. As the local legend of the bank is known, the owner of the bank on the first floor happened to go missing with all of the money. This vacancy gave the lodge the opportunity to purchase the building and land outright.
In the year of 1998 Granite Lodge was merged back into Friendship lodge. This merger reunited the two lodges after 131 years.
Information was obtained from:
History of Freemasonry In Rhode Island, by Henry W. Rugg, D.D., E.L. Freeman & Son, State Printers 1895