When settlers finally came
to the area known as Fargo in about 1870...
...a number of them being Masons petitioned the Grand Lodge of Minnesota for dispensation. The dispensation was granted in November of 1872 and the momentous history of Shiloh Lodge No. 1 began. The very first meeting was held in the old Headquarters Hotel on Main Street adjacent to the old N.P. Depot.
Originally known as Shilo No. 105, the spelling was changed to Shiloh after January 1, 1875.
The original furniture of the lodge was very primitive with planks laid across beer kegs for seats. The original jewels were cut from tin at a cost of seventy cents and can now be seen today framed and hanging in the lodge.
The Grand Lodge of Dakota Territory was organized in June in 1875 and in 1879 Shiloh asked to move its affiliation from the Grand Lodge of Minnesota to the Grand Lodge of Dakota Territory.
Shiloh was one of the 31 original constituent lodges of the Dakotas. When the Grand Lodge of North Dakota was constituted in 1889, Shiloh was granted the designation of lodge number 1.
Shiloh occupied a number of lodge sites over the years, from a room over a saloon to the great downtown Masonic Temple erected in 1903 to finally its present site in north Fargo.
The first substantial Masonic building in Fargo was at 11 South 8th Street, a location better remembered as the Dakota Business College. However, this building was built by Masons and served as Shiloh's home from 1884 until 1890. In fact, at the top of the building today one can still see the words, "Masonic Block". Thereafter, the Masons moved into the upper floors of what is remembered as the "Kessler Block" on Second Street just across from the old Carnegie library, both now demolished.
In 1893, the great Fargo fire destroyed the building where Shiloh was located and all the minute books prior to 1881 were destroyed. Following the fire, lodge meetings were held in Island Park with the Knights Templar acting as guards. On June 7, 1899 the corner stone was laid for the great Masonic temple at 501 First Avenue North, a site now serving as a parking lot for Gate City Bank. The 17,500 square foot red brick building with Little Falls granite trim was completed in April 1902 at a cost of $80,000 and served as home for Shiloh Lodge as well as the Scottish and York Rites and the Shrine until 1968 when it became another victim of urban renewal.
The entrance had a large imposing arch supported on either side by granite pillars. It was topped by a pyramidal roof supported by 12 Corinthian columns at the top of which was the Scottish Rite eagle. The building had a gymnasium with swimming pool and it housed one of the finest early libraries in the region consisting of over 20,000 volumes covering a wide field including literature, history, philosophy and Masonic works. The building also housed a museum and together with the library occupied over 5,000 square feet of space with 5,575 lineal feet of shelving.
Shiloh presided at the laying of the corner stone of the University of North Dakota on October 2, 1883.
On June 7, 1924, Shiloh observed its 50th anniversary and celebrated its 100th anniversary in 1974. Shiloh is older than the state of North Dakota or even the territory of Dakota.