Our History

John P. Tenbrook

Urbana Lodge No. 157 A. F. & A. M. was chartered by the Grand Lodge of the State of Illinois during the morning session of the annual meeting on Oct. 3rd, 1854. John P. Tenbrook was appointed as the first Master of the Lodge. The Grand Master of the State of Illinois at that time, Bro. Wm. B. Warren, was unable to attend due to illness.

The Lodge was reported to have done work as early as July 15th, 1854 under dispensation from the Grand Lodge. The first petitions were received July 15th and the first degree work was done Aug. 12, 1854. On Dec. 28th an Installation was held at the county courthouse for the first officers of the Lodge.

From the beginning, the members of Urbana Lodge No. 157 have been active and involved locally. Our members have been leaders in the community and took part in developing the city of Urbana as well as others. Historical records also show our members played an important and primary role in the establishment of the University of Illinois through the efforts of Clark R. Griggs and others.

In 2004 we celebrated our Sesquicentennial, 150 years of fellowship, charity, and community involvement. Through the Ruth Hayward Masonic Fund our lodge has distributed over $1.5 Million dollars to local programs to benefit the senior citizens of Champaign County.

Our Homes over the years

Our lodge has met in several spots over the years; the longest of which lasted almost 100 years when we owned our own building on Main Street in Urbana.

In 1849 a two-story building, thirty feet by forty feet, was the first permanent Champaign County Courthouse. It was used for a period of only ten years, however during that time history records many visits by Abraham Lincoln who practiced law in this courthouse.

The second floor of this building was the first meeting place of Urbana Masonic Lodge No. 157.

1849 Courthouse

Although the building constructed in 1849 was the first permanent courthouse, it was the second one built on that site.

By 2004 there have been a total of six courthouse remodels or reconstructions with the latest being finished in 2003. Currently there is an initiative to complete restoration on the clock tower to its original appearance. This is how it looked in 2010.

Courthouse Today

After leaving the courthouse, Urbana Lodge found a second home in downtown Urbana. This was the Gere Block, located in the 100 block of East Main St. Built in 1858 by Johnny Gere; it became the center of commerce in the downtown area.

Gere Block (full)

Two doors from the east end of the block, located at 104 E. Main St., was Gere Hall, above Clapp & Gere Dry Goods.

Urbana Lodge No. 157 met here beginning in 1859 until it was destroyed by the Urbana fire of 1871.

Gere Block (east end only)

This was the scene at 104 E. Main St. after the fire destroyed almost the entire downtown area of Urbana.


104 E. Main after 1871 fire

The block has gone through many changes throughout the years. This is how that same block looks today.

Presently the space is occupied by a footwear company, Birkenstock Concepts.

104 E. Main St. today

After the fire in 1871 Urbana Lodge found its third home. They occupied the third floor of the Odd Fellows Hall, which later became the Busey Bank Building located at 201 E. Main St.

They remained there until the purchase of their own building in 1889.

Odd Fellows Hall

This is the corner of Race and Main where the Odd Fellows Hall once stood. The corner is now a parking lot for the main branch of Busey Bank.

201 E. Main/Busey Bank Today

In 1889 Urbana Lodge then purchased the building that would be its fourth home. It was located at 115 E. Main St. and was known as the Tiernan Building.

Built in 1871, the first floor served as commercial space for several uses including a grocery store. Its third floor served as a popular downtown opera house in the late 1800's.

Urbana Lodge would remain here for over 90 years.

Tiernan Building (original front)

As a prominent fixture of the Urbana cityscape many events centered around the Tiernan Building. This photo from 1903 shows the first automobile to come to Urbana.

Tiernan 1903 w/car

On November 14, 1914, after extensive remodeling the building was again dedicated. Most Worshipful Grand Master Henry T. Burnap was present for this dedication. The front page of the Urbana Union-Gazette would report that over 300 Freemasons from around the state were present that day.

Tiernan (1914 front)

Today the first floor of the Tiernan building is a night club called Crane Alley. The third floor remained vacant after Urbana Lodge No. 157 moved out in 1979 until it was remodeled for use by Prairie City Consulting a computer consulting firm in 2002.

Tiernan Today

Offices surround the main floor area while the original opera house stage area is much the same as it was when it was used by Urbana Lodge. The beautiful carpet has been replaced with exquisite wood parquet flooring.

3rd Floor Tiernan Today

Beginning in 1979 Urbana Lodge No. 157 held our meetings on the second floor of the Champaign Masonic Center located at 14 Bel Aire Ct. in Champaign.

C-U Masonic Center in Champaign Today

On September 16, 2020 our members purchased a building in Urbana. The building was formerly the Saint Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Church. After 41 years we would finally return HOME.

312 W. Elm St. in Urbana