Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Hiking Through History: Urbana Lodge No. 157

Tiernan Building (Urbana, IL)
As I mentioned in my post Hiking Through History (Or Fat Man Walking) I've decided to spend my lunch hours getting a little more exercise, and learning a few things I don't know about the community where I live and work.
  
Detail of Square and Compass
over Tiernan Building entrance
One of the first destinations I chose for my daily lunch hour walk was one of the old homes of Urbana Lodge No. 157 in the Tiernan Building in downtown Urbana (IL).  And I learned a few things about this beautiful old building, and the history of Urbana Lodge. 

Urbana Lodge is the oldest lodge in Champaign County, chartered in 1854, and the Tiernan Building was actually their fourth home.  Urbana Lodge's first home was on the second floor of the Champaign County Courthouse (in Urbana, IL).  In 1859, the Masons moved to a permanent home a block away, but in 1871, their lodge was destroyed by fire, along with most of the downtown Urbana area--a fire so severe it has often been compared to the Chicago fire. They took up lodgings in the Odd Fellows Hall at 201 E. Main, Urbana (where Busey Bank is now) until they found a permanent home in the Tiernan Building where they met between 1889 - 1979. 

Champaign County Courthouse
Urbana Lodge's first home
The Tiernan Building was originally a brick building, but in 1914, the Masonic Lodge had the building extensively remodeled, which included the white-glazed terra cotta front designed by Joseph Royer that makes the building to stunning even to this day.  In 2001, the building was given the distinction of being recognized as a local landmark.

Bro. Chic Sale
Urbana Lodge No. 157
Another interesting fact about Urbana Lodge, was it was home to a famous Freemason.  Charles"Chic" Sale was an actor and humorist in vaudeville as well as a character actor in movies.  He never achieved a great amount of fame until he authored a risque book on the subject of outhouses entitled "The Specialist."  The book sold 200,000 copies in three months and went on to be a million-seller.  The book was very nearly banned, but Bro. Sale chose his words very carefully to prevent it from being censored.

And, by the way, there is no need to talk about Urbana Lodge in the past tense--the lodge is thriving to this day. These days, Urbana Lodge No. 157 meets at the Champaign Masonic Center at 14 Bel Air Court, Champaign, on the first and third Tuesday of each month at 7:30. 

~TEC

4 comments:

  1. Wow! What a cool article. Thank you for writing this.

    Mike Poole
    Master - Urbana Lodge 157

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad you enjoyed it. Got much of the information for the article from your lodge website.

      Delete
  2. Thanks for the great article Todd. There are some wonderful bits of information here that need to be added to our history contained on our web site.

    Brad Cronk

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Brad. I'd be happy to write up a short bio if your famous Freemason, Chic Sale, if you'd like.

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