Knights Templar of SLO, annual Easter Observance Masonic Temple (April 12, 1914)


2 KDL JAN 2011About Our Lodge

In 1860 a Masonic Lodge was first formed in our county. It was called “San Luis Obispo Lodge No. 148.” Brother Romualdo Pacheco, later to serve as the 12th Governor of California (1875), was initiated into that Lodge by his friend & charter member, Walter Murray. Brother Murray was himself quite an accomplished gentleman, later establishing the San Luis Obispo Tribune in 1869. Both these remarkable men were also among the central coast’s first judges. For a video tribute to Walter Murray click on this link:

The devastating drought of 1863-1864 and political tensions inflamed by the Civil War, combined with the hardships of the frontier West, forced the brethren of that first Lodge to surrender their Lodge’s charter ca. 1865. All records of Lodge No. 148 would later be lost in the San Francisco earthquake & fire of 1906. For more detail on our early history, click on this link:

The need for another Lodge in the town of San Luis Obispo became evident in May of 1870, when Masons converged from distant Lodges for the funeral of Brother Alexander Murray — Walter Murray’s younger brother. Those Masons took the necessary steps for reestablishing a Masonic presence in San Luis Obispo, leading to the establishment that same year of King David’s Lodge No. 209.

Other remarkable members of our Lodge over the last quarter of the 19th century include locally famous Robert Edgar Jack (rancher, railroad executive, and builder of the Jack House on Marsh Street ca. 1880); well-known sea captain James Cass (“Founding Father of Cayucos” ca. 1875, pictured above in 1914 as the third Knight from the right in the black & white photograph of local Knights Templar); locally well-known Sheriff S.D. Ballou; Louis Felix Sinsheimer (initiated in 1894 and later the longest serving mayor of San Luis Obispo, from 1919 to 1939); Levi Rackliffe (the Lodge’s first Master and California’s Treasurer from 1895-1898); and Frederick Adolphus Dorn (one of this county’s first District Attorneys and Lodge Master in 1891 & 1892 — he commissioned the massive granite pyramid that dominates the southern end of San Luis Cemetery, a funerary pyramid complete with engraved Masonic and other fraternal symbols built as a mausoleum for Dorn’s wife & infant son).

Around the turn of the century, increasing population in San Luis Obispo and growth in our Lodge’s membership made it necessary to find larger facilities. Over time several locations were utilized, the brothers finally settling on the 800-block of Marsh Street for a permanent home. The Lodge through its Hall Association built the present building at a total cost of $57,000 and our glorious edifice was dedicated on December 19, 1913. (See black & white photograph above – a fitting backdrop for our ancestral Knights Templar, top of this webpage.) While it appears to be a brick & mortar structure, it is not a “masonry” building but is instead of wood-frame construction, using a “rough cast” technique to give the exterior a concrete appearance. Further detail about the construction and dedication of our glorious edifice can be found at this link:

In the early 1970s there was spirited debate about selling the present property in favor of erecting a new building at the edge of town. After much consideration, the brethren decided they loved the present building too much to ever let it go, deciding instead to retrofit it in order to comply with modern fire codes and thus preserving it for the future of Masonry here in San Luis Obispo. By their wisdom, we continue to enjoy our beautiful building at 859 Marsh Street.

In the mid-1970s our Greek Revival “grand entrance” was taken down as an accommodation to Laws Hobby Shop, a longtime commercial tenant in our building. Most residents of San Luis Obispo over the next 30+ years thereafter forgot (if they ever knew) that a Masonic Center was continually active behind the massive awning which served as signage for the hobby shop. That sheet-metal covering stretched across the entire facing of our magnificent edifice, all but concealing the Door of Freemasonry in San Luis Obispo. The awning was repainted after the hobby shop yielded its space to two new commercial tenants around 2008 (Founders Bank and Central Coast Surfboards), and the mask was finally removed in 2009. Then in 2010, the brethren voted to restore the original grandeur of 1913. Local general contractor Randy Ramsay did a truly outstanding job on the restoration, as shown in the color photo above. (Other photos of the restoration are found on the “Photo Gallery” page of this website.)

The Lodge continues to be involved in the affairs of the community. For example, we have taken Hawthorne Elementary School under our wing, helping financially from time to time. We also regularly recognize local fire & police departments in appreciation of their services — usually in the spring and fall of each year. (See photos from the annual Firefighters Appreciation Night held on March 15, 2011 on the “Photo Gallery” page of this website.)

On January 1, 2005 “Estero Lodge No. 719” in Morro Bay consolidated with our Lodge, such that now “King David’s Lodge No. 209” also serves the Estero communities of Morro Bay and Los Osos.

“King David’s Lodge No. 209” continues to be a benefactor in the greater San Luis Obispo area, and we welcome new members who wish to help us in our work.