History of Boynton Lodge No. 236 F&AM
The Lodge was begun in early Boynton Beach, shortly after the turn of the 20th century.
In the mid 1890’s, Major Nathan Boynton came to the area and purchased large plots of land. On an Oceanside parcel a few yards south of the present-day intersection of Ocean Avenue and A1A, he constructed his hotel. He needed access to the railroad, so he and several employees took their machetes and hacked a path westward to the railroad line. This allowed more guests to come to his hotel. The path today is Ocean Avenue. In 1915, an Insurance Agent in Delray, Mr. C.C. Mast, who was a Past Master of the Masonic Lodge in Delray, petitioned the Grand Lodge of Florida and obtained a Charter for a new Masonic Lodge in Boynton Beach. During that year, the Masons met in a back room above a lumberyard on the railroad tracks near where “Bud’s Fried Chicken” presently stands.
Boynton Lodge No. 236 F&AM consisted of men of diverse backgrounds. One, the Postmaster of Hypoluxo Island, was later immortalized by author Theodore Pratt as “The Barefoot Mailman” in his book of the same name. Another was an American who escaped from Mexico in their revolution of Independence in 1910. In the final moments before his escape, this American snatched whatever furniture from the Masonic Lodge he could carry, and made his way out of the country. That Lodge’s Bible was used in Boynton Lodge for almost 60 years, and now is encased in a glass vault. Others were Dairymen, Farmers, and those connected with a small pioneer town. By 1925, Delray to the south had only 1500 inhabitants. Boynton had considerably less.
During the course of the 20th century, Boynton Masonic Lodge moved four times. Early minutes taken in those Lodge meetings recount the discussions against moving “way out of town” to Green Street, which is Seacrest Boulevard today. The Lodge occupied space in a building on Green Street, and in 1932, a parcel of land on Ocean Avenue was acquired. Situated next to a hotel of the day, known as “The Boynton Hotel”, this property was held vacant until 1955, as the Lodge paid off the mortgage in installments. From Green Street, the Lodge moved to the second floor of a wooden building on Palmetto Street, now S.E. 4th. This wooden structure was next to the vacant lot on Ocean Ave., and had been built from the cargo of timber salvaged from the beach after the wreck of the “Coquimbo” in the decade following the turn of the 20th century. It was razed in 2003.
From 1955 through 2000, a concrete Lodge building stood on the lot as Boynton Beach went through incredible growth. Major populations moved west, and the former downtown area was bypassed. In 1999, through the generosity of $300,000 left to the Lodge by its member, Ozzie Grimstad, and the downtown renovation boom that brought a $300,000 sales price for the Building, the Lodge purchased land and began construction on a new Building in Quantum Park, in north Boynton Beach. In 2001, the Lodge moved to its newly constructed Building.
Many people contributed to this Lodge, too numerous to mention in the space allotted. Freemasonry thrives in Boynton Beach, Florida and the Craft will continue into the ages.
-Richard E. Philpott, PM, PDDGM.