History of Unity Lodge No. 146 A.F. & A.M.
Front Royal Virginia
Chartered December 13, 1870
The first Masonic Lodge of record in the Front Royal area was known as Chester Lodge No. 61. According to the records of the Grand Lodge of Virginia, it was chartered on December 1, 1799. The first Worshipful Master was John Hickman. In 1804, the Lodge made its last Return to the Grand Lodge. New interest in Masonry awakened in 1816, and on February 14, 1816, a dispensation was granted to Front Royal Lodge No. 102 with Cyrus D. Baldwin as Worshipful Master. This Lodge was then chartered on December 10, 1816. The last Return from Front Royal Lodge No. 102 was made to the Grand Lodge in 1822, and it was declared extinct by the Grand Lodge in 1825.
The Lodge was revived on December 15, 1840, and on March 30, 1841, meetings were resumed. The bylaws of Cassia Lodge No. 142 were adopted. This Lodge continued to meet until June 16, 1851, the last meeting recorded. During the period of 1845-1847, the meetings were sporadic. The Grand Lodge of Virginia declared this Lodge extinct in 1857.
The question is often raised as to the attitude of Masonry during the Civil War and whether or not dissension, and difference of opinion among the members had any influence on the members of Front Royal Lodge No. 102. Fifteen years passed and no records of any Masonic activity can be found.
At a meeting on March 25, 1870, the Grand Lodge of Virginia presented a dispensation dated March 14, 1870, to Unity Lodge No. 146 to hold Masonic meetings. Meetings were held on the Saturday preceding the full moon, or on that night when the moon was full. It must be remembered that no electricity was available in those times. Electricity was procured in 1892, for the sum of $1.25 per quarter.
On June 23, 1899, the Worshipful Master George Forsyth presented a marble stone, which reads, “Chester Lodge, John Hickman Worshipful Master, Chartered December 11, 1799.” This tablet is erected to commemorate the one hundredth anniversary of the establishment of Freemasonry in Front Royal Virginia.
Much happened to the Lodge during the years following the presentation. Of particular note was the disastrous fire that destroyed much of the Lodge furnishings. The charter and Bible were salvaged and both bear mute testimony of the destructiveness of fire. During the period of 1914, after the fire many committees were formed to acquire a lot and building for a Masonic temple. On July 29, 1926, a cornerstone was laid for the new building. In 1953, two new rooms were added and Brothers A. Warrick, W. C. Brown and R. F. Wilson were the committee that completed the work.
In 1956, it was reported that the Lodge had authorized the trustees to erect an extension to the front and rear of the building. The cornerstone was laid without ritual and without many of the members present.
In 1970, Unity Lodge celebrated its one hundredth anniversary, with enthusiasm. During 1988 the property was sold to the Warren County Board of Supervisors for $240,000.00, and a suitable piece of property on Criser Road was purchased from Brother E. Eastham, M. D., for the amount of $50,000.00.
Through the efforts of Right Worshipful James M. Coverstone and the trustees, Ronald Bean, Clyde Magee and W. N. Wood, the details of constructing a new building were completed and a new building was erected.