“It takes a commitment to keep a town’s history alive, and Danville’s Masons of Washburn Lodge #92 appear to be in it for the long haul. The big, brick building on the Green has been their home since 1894, but it has been a graceful presence there since 1831.
At first glance, the building looks like a church, so it makes sense when one learns that the Calvinist Baptists, who formed in 1792, built it for their congregation at a cost of $3,100. One of the founding members in the Calvinist Baptist Church in Danville was Charles Sias, the first captain of the first military company in town. In our Society’s historical records, a note reads that in the church a “revival took place from 1833 to 1836” but also relates “the church disappears from the minutes of the Danville Association in 1852.” The building stood empty until the Washburn Lodge purchased it as their new home in 1894.
The Masons, of course, have their own interesting history that dovetails with the building. Just before the Baptists built their church on the Green, Danville became the hotbed of the Anti-Masonic movement, and the old North Star led the charge. Danville’s William Palmer, the first and only governor in the nation to run on the Anti-Masonic ticket, was elected Governor of Vermont in 1831, the same year the church was built.
The movement was so strong that by 1834 almost every Masonic lodge in Vermont had rescinded their charters, and Danville was no exception. Having been granted their original charter as Harmony Lodge #14 in 1797, they surrendered it in 1829 and were declared extinct in 1849. But 20 years later, the Anti-Masonic movement forgotten, they reformed as Washburn Lodge #92 and met on the top floor of the present Balivet house on the Green.
Seeking a more permanent home, they purchased the abandoned church on the Green at public auction for $285. The brothers completed extensive renovations in the late 1890s, replacing the windows with stained glass and adding a domed ceiling in the main hall. There they enjoyed many years of activity.”
Danville Historical Society