Los Angeles Lodge was organized before the Civil War and was operating under a dispensation granted by the Grand Master of California in December 1854 before it was officially instituted on March 29, 1855 as the 35th Lodge in California, under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of California. It is the oldest Lodge south of San Francisco, Sacramento and the Gold Rush area of California. When Los Angeles Lodge No. 35 was instituted the population of Los Angeles was fewer than 1,100.
One of the first tasks the Lodge undertook was the establishment of a cemetery to carry out our duty to bury the dead. It was located at North West of the corner of Castellar and Grand Streets. (Note Grand Street not Grand Avenue.) It was one of the first cemeteries in post Mexican Los Angeles and the oldest continually operating cemetery in the City of Los Angeles. Unfortunately it was located in an area that became very desirable and the city wanted to develop the land and forced its sale. On November 9, 1888 for the sum of $400.00 in gold coin the original cemetery was sold. Prior to this happening the brothers had purchased new land to continue operating and removed all the people buried there and moved them to their present location at 3640 Whittier Blvd. without interruption of cemetery services.
The early membership of the lodge reads as a who’s who of Los Angeles History. Back then in the 1850’s and ’60’s before there was any effective law enforcement, the brothers provided that service to the community. Many were members of various state sponsored militia whose purpose was to maintain law and order and history even records some were instrumental in the vigilance committees that dispensed frontier justice when required. Among the brothers are one, Myron Norton, who was a delegate to the State’s Constitutional Convention, five State Senators and Representatives, five County Sheriffs, six Chiefs of Police, four City Marshals, eight County Supervisors, seventeen members of the City Council, three Mayors, ten Judges, nine members of the First LA City volunteer fire department, even three County Coroners and the list continues with many additional notable community leaders and businessmen. There is no question the Lodge brothers laid out the foundations and built Los Angeles into the megalopolis it is today.
Our lodge received its charter and was instituted in the Temple Block on March 29, 1855. It has been hard to pin down exactly because more that one building was called the Temple Block by various contemporary sources. Street addresses were not in common use. Placing some trust in the Lodge Historian from 1930 M.J. Gordon and a photo where he indicated an adobe structure, and also in very incomplete records of when buildings were constructed we believe this two story adobe building shown in the sketch on the right to be correct.
Very soon after that, the Temple Block sported another building, seen below at the right. The building, also owned by Don Juan Temple, had a large auditorium in the second floor. There are descriptions of the brothers meeting in a spacious second floor auditorium from only a year or so later. We assume that is the area the lodge brothers rented for use as their lodge hall, in addition to an area to store the lodge’s property, regalia, rituals, books and papers. Los Angeles City also rented space in building for the City Hall. At the time this was one of the largest and most prestigious buildings in the city.
The charter members of Los Angeles Lodge No. 35 are General Ezra Drown, E. Wilson High, Alexander Crabb, L. C. Goodwin, William C. Ardinger, Morris L. Goodman and M. M. Davis.
The photo above is of the building as it appeared in 1858 . Unfortunately it does not appear if the brothers had erected a sign to advertise their presence in the building, but with a population of less than 1200 most every resident knew all the social happenings of the day.
The lodge met on the Temple Block from it beginings under dispensation in December 1854 until we moved into our own building in February 1878.
The photograph above is a more recent one. The building has undergone changes from when the brothers met there, but the symbols are still on the front facade and you can see the two story design of many lodge buildings in California, where rental space is provided on the ground floor and the Hall and ante room and recreation room are upstairs. Even though it is no longer an Odd Fellows Lodge you can still see the Three links and All Seeing Eye above a entrance. The old lodge is located at 1828 Oak St., Los Angeles, Ca. 90015. The building was built in 1924 and sold in 1975.
The lodge rented the Masonic Hall on Pico Blvd. from 1975 through 1978.
In 1987 the lodge moved to the present Hall, 3620 Whittier Blvd. where it meets today.
Mergers and Consolidations
Los Angeles Lodge #35 only had two lodges consolidate into it directly. The first was Jerico Lodge #484. They were instituted on April 28, 1931 by PGM Hjalmar Johnson. They did not have any lodge consolidate into them before they merged with us on August 3, 1955.
Our Lodge’s most recent merger was with Golden Rule Lodge #160. Golden Rule received its charted on July 9, 1869 and were instituted by DDGM Henry Wartenberg. Their charter is in our lodge hall, having been found by accident in 2010 in a storage room that the Grand Lodge has been using that was being cleared out in San Jose area prior to the building being sold.
Golden Rule Lodge had several lodges consolidate into it over the years. Angelito Lodge #195, instituted Jan 1, 1872 by DDGM Henry Wartenberg. They consolidated May 22, 1880.
Orephues Lodge #237, Instituted November 8, 1875 by DDGM Erastus W. Champlin. Consolidated into them October 19, 1896.
Atlas Lodge #391, Instituted October 6, 1903 by PGM George W. Stockwell. Consolidated into them December 18, 1922.
Good Will Lodge #323, Instituted September 11, 1885 by DDGM Charles Elliot Gualt. Consolidated into them December 5, 1951.
Good Will Lodge had a consolidation with Acme Lodge #303, Instituted November 18, 1904 by DDGM Henry Lee Brown. Consolidated into them October 2, 1919
Golden Rule consolidated with us on January 23, 1988 and we changed our name to Los Angeles-Golden Rule Lodge. At that time the Cemetery was sold off to itself to operate as an independent 501(c)13 cemetery, no longer controlled by the lodges. Golden Rule lodge also donated its portion of the sales proceeds and its portion of the sale of the lodge building at Washington and Oak 3 years earlier to the Odd Fellows Home in Saratoga, CA.
The reason the lodge agreed to the name change started years earlier with brother John Thomas King of Golden Rule Lodge. John King, joined Golden Rule Lodge in 1967. While working nights at the Odd Fellows Temple in 1968 he observed the attendance at Los Angeles Lodge was sparse. Upon learning that Los Angeles Lodge # 35 was the oldest lodge in Southern California, Brother King felt that the History of the lodge was to valuable to lose. Brother King approached John Tortora of Los Angeles lodge and inquired what it would take to “save” the lodge. Brother Tortora stated it would take three or four new members. Brother King recruited his three oldest sons, Thomas Michael King, George Albert King and Roy Edward King to join the lodge. The King brothers then recruited their friends to, David Dawson, John Davila, Michael Grund, Jay Lynch and George Chaides to join with them. Of course, by doing so Brother John Thomas King was not looked upon kindly in his own lodge, having brought in to a different lodge a large number of members. Some years later Golden Rule Lodge faced the same fate as Los Angeles lodge had. To facilitate the consolidation of the lodges, an olive branch was offered and the Lodge changed its name.