The first meeting place of Lodge No. 20 is not known. In 1840, Chilton Allan, who owned the lot at the southwest corner of Main and Fairfax (now Lexington Avenue), gave the lodge a house facing on Fairfax and adjoining his National Hotel. The house was torn down and the Masonic Hall was built on the site. It is shown on the 1877 Beers map of Winchester.
The present facade dates from 1887, when the building was renovated. The local newspaper reported, "They will add a new front and will raise the building one story higher."
Lodge No. 20 moved into new quarters in the McEldowney Building. That building was completed in 1907 and burned the following year. The fire destroyed lodge records, charter and regalia. The Masons then purchased half interest in a lot on Court Street owned by the Knights of Pythias adjacent to the Citizens National Bank.
The two societies began construction of a new meeting hall called the Fraternity Building and inscribed "F. & A.M. and K.P." In 1911, however, the Knights of Pythias sold their half of the building to the Free & Accepted Masons in consideration of the Masons assuming all debts on the property.
The "Clark County Survey of Historic Sites" calls the building "an imposing brick Classical Revival structure with a heavy and robust cornice and pediment and fine terra cotta decoration." The lodge rooms were among the most beautiful in the state at that time.
The first floor and upstairs offices were rented out to businesses to help the Masons pay for the building.
In 1914 the occupants were attorneys James F. Winn, Coleman S. Moffett, Charles F. Spencer and Andrew H. Hampton Jr., Kentucky River Timber and Coal, Asa F. Goodwin, M.D., Judge John H. Hardwick, Strothers Insurance Agency, Lorch & Company loans and Kerr & Bean undertakers; in 1940 Wiggs Apartments, Edgington Funeral Home and Edgington Furniture Store; in 1965 U.S. Soil Conservation Service, Lincoln National Life Insurance, Hurst Insurance and Southern Bell Telephone & Telegraph Company.
Today the building houses Court Street Gifts and Wilson Auction Service.
Freemasonry, said to be the oldest and largest fraternity in the world, traces its origins to the medieval stonemasons of Europe. Modern Freemasonry dates back to the Grand Lodge in England organized in 1717. Kentucky membership grew to over 100,000 by 1961. Since that time, the number of members and lodges has declined.
One benevolent activity of the Masons in Kentucky is taking care of elderly members. Their endowments support a nursing home in Shelbyville and a hospital in Louisville. Clark County had several other lodges besides No. 20 in Winchester. These were No. 233 at Right Angle (still going), No. 444 at Pinchem (later moved to Ford), No. 572 at Schollsville, No. 680 at Becknerville and No. 943 at Winchester (later merged with No. 20).
Three Clark County men - Asa K. Lewis, John B. Huston and Charles Eginton - served as Grand Masters of Kentucky.
Winchester Lodge No. 20 is currently headquartered at 35 North Bloomfield Road. Kenneth Woosley is Master and the 2006 directory lists 226 members. The Lodge is currently providing a temporary home for Clark County Community Services.
Next: Where in the world was Devil's Backbone?