By Cathy Jones
‘Lodge Washington H. Soul No. 399’, a Masonic Temple, was built in 1922 at 44 Beresford Road Strathfield. The Lodge was built by Washington H. Soul, a prominent Freemason, and is located at the northern boundary of his property ‘Agincourt’ which faced Beresford Road. His house ‘Agincourt’ faced Albert Road, Strathfield.
The building was approved for construction in September 1921 at the estimated cost of £3737. The builder was Ernest Ede, Lawson, NSW. The architectural design is attributed to Harry Chambers Kent, a prominent Sydney based architect and resident of Strathfield. Kent is the designer of many Strathfield buildings, including ‘Agincourt’, ‘Mount Royal’ and the Strathfield Town Hall. The Lodge was built on Soul’s land, but the completed building and land was donated to the Freemasons and was managed under a management committee. The value of Soul’s donation was estimated at more than £5000, a considerable sum in 1921-1922.
The building contains two foundation stones. The first is in commemoration of Washington H Soul dated October 8 1921 and the second stone was laid by Bro. William Thompson, Grand Master on October 8 1921. The building is a two storey brick building with symmetrical facade.
Washington Handley Soul [1845-1927] and his father Caleb established their first drug store and dispensary in Pitt St Sydney in 1872 called Washington H Soul & Co. Washington H Soul merged with Pattinson & Co in 1903 and became a public company known as Washington H Soul, Pattinson & Co. After the merger, Soul retired to Strathfield and purchased ‘Agincourt’ where he resided until his death in 1927.
Soul took a very keen interest in the Masonic movement of New South Wales. He was made a Mason in Sydney in 1888 in Lodge Paddington Ionic No. 181 and joined Lodge Harmony No. 5 and became Master in 1893. He became the Grand Sword Bearer of the United Grand Lofge of New South Wales in 1895, Senior Grand Deacon in 1896, President of the Board of Benevolence 1897-8 and Grand Treasurer for 1901-04.
It was reported that a ceremony was held in September 1921 for the dedication of the new Lodge:
About 300 Masons assembled in the Masonic Hall, Castlereagh street, Sydney, last week to celebrate the consecration and dedication of the “Lodge Washington H. Soul,” which was recently formed by 82 brethren from Strathfield and Homebush, and which had been named in honor of V.W.Bro. Washington H. Soul, P.O. Treasurer. The Most Worshipful Grand Master, Bro. William Thomson, assisted by a number of Grand Lodge officers; performed the ceremony. Bro. Goulston, D.G.M. presented, on behalf of the brethren of the new lodge, a beautiful gavel made of Australian wood, and inlaid with a golden plate and ribbon suitably inscribed, to Bro. Soul, in appreciation of his munificent gift of the land, temple, furniture, and regalia to the new lodge, the cost of which will run into £5000. The new lodge establishes the record for the State of starting with the highest number of foundation member — 82 — the previous record being 64.
The Lodge was still operating under a management committee in 1966. However, by the 2000s, the building had transferred ownership. A plan to redevelop the building into a 2 storey townhouse, with the addition at rear of 7 strata units and parking was approved.
Cumming., G, 2000, The Masonic Sites of Sydney
MR. WASHINGTON H. SOUL. (1927, December 14). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954), p. 16. Retrieved December 1, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article16426667
Items of Interest. (1921, September 16). The Richmond River Herald and Northern Districts Advertiser (NSW : 1886 – 1942), p. 6. Retrieved December 1, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article126117025
NEW MASONIC LODGE. (1921, September 14). The Grafton Argus and Clarence River General Advertiser (NSW : 1874 – 1875; 1879 – 1882; 1888; 1892; 1899 – 1922), p. 4. Retrieved December 1, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article235659355