History of Laurel Wreath Lodge No. 149


Another venerable Laurel business was the C.F. Shaffer Lumber Company founded by Charles F. Shaffer, Sr.who had been a pattern maker at the Washington Navy Yard until 1866. He opened an undertaking establishment here and then in 1874 bought a local lumber company and operated it for many years at Second and Main Streets. The business was sold in recent times to Laurel Building Supply which still operates it at the same location. His son C.R. Shaffer, Jr., in partnership with Edward Phelps (several time Laurel Mayor) started a department store at Ninth and Montgomery Streets in a building that later housed the Laurel Volunteer Fire Department subsequently Laurel City Hall and Police Department and is now run by the Department of Parks and Recreation as the Harrison-Beard Community Center.

Since discussion of person leads to thoughts of where they lived and did business, it is interesting to remark further on structures still in use and their history, even to note some historical ones now gone, with which Laurel Wreath Lodge brethren had a connection. One business until recently still in operation under ownership of grandson Charles was the firm of Dewilton H. Donaldson at Sixth and Montgomery Streets. The original building on the southeast corner was later replaced by the present brick building across Sixth Street. Ernest R. Harrison the town tax collector and city clerk who started out in partnership with Brother Donaldson later opened a grocery store at Ninth and Montgomery Streets, where there was still until recently a small grocery store.

On Main Street at the northeast corner of Washington Boulevard is the structure with the name Patuxent Bank still on the facade. This building once housed the firm C.H. Stanley, Inc., of Brother Charles H. Stanely, Jr., and at one time the Laurel Post Office. Among our members who have held the office of Postmaster are Brothers Charles F. Shaffer, James Curley and Russell W. Beall. Proceeding up Main Street on the south side at #302 is the Laurel Jewelry Company operated for many years by member Brother Julius Lazerow and his brother Sol now both retired. Across the street in the next block at #317 is the location where Brother Louis F. Sussman's haberdashery used to be in the long ago. Then at 323 Main Street the building housing Knapp's (Keller's) Newstand was the first Laurel residence of our early member Brother Albin M. Bond who subsequently moved into the gingerbread duplex still standing at 312-314 Forth Street. Nest at 357 Main Street is the three story brick structure which once housed the Laurel News Leader long published by Brother G. Bowie McCeney; it also housed the law firm of Brothers G. Bowie and his father, George McCeney. Before the McCeney Days the Leader had also been operated by Past Master James P. Curley. Still on Main Street years back used to be Brother Montgomery Armstrong's grocery and across from Citizens National Bank at Fourth and Main Streets on the opposite corners are the two buildings where Brother Theodore B. Siehler ran the Laurel Furniture Company with assistance of Brother C Warren Pritchard who remains an active member.

Facing Saint Philips Episcopal Church on th north side of Main Street used to be what was known as the Marbury place which was set back toward the river and was originally the home and office of our third Worshipful Master in 1873 of Dr. John Cronmiller. Behind the house was the Little Dam on the Patuxent creating the swimming hole frequented by Laurel youngsters and known as "Backadocs". The Cronmiller house recently burned but was reconstructed and is located at the back of the new Patuxent Place office complex in the 600 block of Main Street as the reminder of a historic site.

Back to Washington Boulevard and south to where the venerable Academy of Music once stood was founded by Brother Ormand W. Phair. It used to be Academy Ford car dealership but has long since moved to a location south of Laurel on Route 1.Around the corner from the original Academy site on the south side of Prince George Street and Stanley Place is a remaining part of what was known as the General Hatch Place, the home of member Brother General Everard E. Hatch who was Mayor in 1936. Across from the Hatch Place, at 305 Prince George Street, years back stood the offices and clinic of Brothers Dr. Bryan and John Warren and adjacent still stands the brick building that used to house the hospital the Warrens founded. Returning to Route 1 at Carroll Avenue the Chevrolet dealership known as Mid-City Chevrolet and founded br Brother Jack Tyler went out of fraternal hands on his retirement a few years ago. Also on Carroll where the C&P Telephone Co. is now used to be the old City Water Works with Brother "Uncle Albert" Gosnell as superintendent. In the next block south around the corner from Route 1 on Talbott is the Donaldson Funeral Home founded by our just recently deceased Brother Dewitt Donaldson. Donaldson Funeral Home is still in family hands. Across Talbott Avenue at #320 stands the home for many years of our unforgettable Brother Carlyle Crook and his little dog Bootsie. Over by the B&O Railroad at Laurel Avenue is the fuel oil company operated for many years by Brother Richard J. (Joe) Brown. A block north at Little Montgomery are the buildings that for three generations housed the J.R. Jones Feed and Fuel firm which has recently closed with the retirement of Brother Past Master Lowery Jones.

Among landmarks now gone were two fine Victorian mansions ounce br Past Master Clay Halverson located between Washington Boulevard and Second Street where Dwight and Mamie Eisenhower lived in 1919. Gone also is the old First Baptist Church built in 1892 on the corner of Route 1 and Montgomery Street next to our Laurel Wreath Temple. The Temple roof was damaged when the church burned in 1896. Our Temple at 209 Washington Boulevard was built in 1894 to replace the hall where we originally met. It was built on land owned by Brother C.F. Shaffer and once owned, according to an early atlas map, by Mrs Honora Talbott. At the other end of the block at Prince George Street still stands a tastefully restored structure known as the Linzey Mansion, a name associated in our minds with longtime Laurel Wreath member Joseph E. Linden. We might well fix these historic places in our minds against the day our plans to relocate our Lodge Temple may materialize. Time now to look to the future.