In The Beginning
During the decade of the 50's, major defense firms commenced expanding and selecting new sites for research and development. The Martin Company of Baltimore selected a site south of Orlando for its expansion and the company transferred several thousand engineers and production workers to the new Martin Marietta Orlando plant. Many of these new inhabitants were Master Masons. However, due to shift work schedules, many Masons in Central Florida, particularly in Orlando, were unable to attend evening Lodge meetings.
In 1957, four Lodges in Orlando were chartered and meeting regularly. Orlando 69, Eola Lodge 207, Winter Park Lodge 239, and Composite Lodge 293 were all evening Lodges. Three of these Lodges met at the Masonic Temple building at 205 Central Street. This problem was discussed by a group of about twenty-five Brothers led by Bob Shugart and they reached a conclusion: a day time lodge. This would allow brothers the opportunity to attend Lodge meetings and to participate in Masonic activities.
They obtained permission to use the Masonic Temple at 205 E. Central Boulevard and they met every Saturday morning. This was such a promising endeavor that they eventually had a few hundred brothers interested. There was such a rapid growth, it was decided that this new group needed some sort of identification. Shugart's membership in Ormadz Grotto led them to change their location to that venue, giving birth to the name Mokanna. Mokanna was the name of a key character in the ritual of the Grotto, a King of Persia during the early years of 1200 AD.
All of the chartered Lodges in Orlando granted permission for the new Lodge to be chartered. Brother Shugart collected 125 signatures for a new Lodge petition, although only seven were required. With those petitions in hand and with $500.00 in the bank, they requested a U.D. Certificate from the Grand Lodge. This was presented at a special meeting on July 15, 1958, by Ralph Sawyer, who was the DDGM of the then 15th Masonic District. On Saturday, July 19th, they held their first meeting as a UD lodge. They continued to meet at the Temple on East Central Boulevard until March 1959, when they switched to a new Grotto Temple at 1700 Edgewater Drive.
At the following Grand Lodge Communications in Jacksonville, the Mokanna charter was granted and dated April 23, 1959. However there was some error in the Grand Lodge office and all charters issued at that time had to be reissued and re-signed by all Grand Lodge officers. As a result a special communications of the Grand Lodge was again called and opened for the purpose of constituting Mokanna No. 329 and is dated June 20, 1959.
Mokanna was chartered with 128 charter members. Twenty-three of these brothers received their degrees in the Lodge U.D. Eighty-five came from nineteen other Florida Lodges and twenty were from out of state lodges representing thirteen other Grand Jurisdictions. The Charter Worshipful Master came from Orange Blossom 80 and both Wardens came from Eola 207.
Mokanna closed its first year with a total of 166 members and cash on hand of $4,978.00.
ONWARD & UPWARD
During the 1960's, the population of Central Florida grew at a tremendous rate. Along with this population growth, our Masonic Lodges continued to grow as well, especially Mokanna. In December 1959, there were 166 members. In 1964, the member count grew to 385 members, and in the 1980's, the total was over 600 members.
As the Brethren and the Lodge prospered, they purchased all the necessary equipment and effects needed for the operation of the Lodge. Through the efforts of Wor. Frank Alexander, they found property on Clarcona-Ocoee Road and gave a down payment of $800.00 and applied for a zoning variance with the city. After the zoning change was approved, they closed on 4 1/3 acres of land in August 1968 for a purchase price of $8,000.00.
Various building committees considered many different Lodge Plans and even hired an architect for $3,000.00 to draw up plans. Afterwards however, they decided to build a Lodge similar to Eola's. Wor. O.H. Ware gave permission to the building committee to go ahead with the program. Architectural plans were presented to the Lodge for approval with the assurance that the Building could be constructed without incurring any debt.
Ground was broken on December 11, 1976, by Grand Master Richard Griffie along with many of the brethren. Construction began under the Supervision of Hank Mueller and the building was under roof by March 19, 1977. The construction of the Lodge cost $62,000.00 and because of the perseverance of the Mokanna Brethren, we had our own lodge debt free. The first Meeting was conducted in the new building on December 29, 1977. Wor. George Laberee was master.