Past Master Spotlight
Today’s Past Master Spotlight will be shining the light on our very first Worshipful Master Walter W. Coleman.
St.Petersburg Lodge 139 was chartered in 1894, 9 years before St.Petersburg was officially recognized as a city in 1903. These early years of our community were rough and it took strong bonds not only to build our lodge but to build this city from the ground up. Each of our chartering officers played a large role in the layout, design, infrastructure, and governance of our community. The charter officers were as follows: Brother W. W. Coleman, Worshipful Master, a hydraulic engineer and the owner of the Paxton House Hotel; Brother H. W. Hibbs, Senior Warden, owner of the first wholesale fish house and one of the first mayors of St.Petersburg; Brother J . C. Williams, Jr., Junior Warden, owner of Crystal Ice Company (with his brother) and a hardware store, and was a land developer; Brother G. L. King, Treasurer, owner of the first saw mill; and Brother James Henry, Secretary. They originally met in the Independent Order of Odd Fellows Hall, location of which was believed to be on Central Avenue just West of 4th Street about where the Phiel Hotel stood. Rent was $3.10 per month.
Worshipful Coleman was a Hydraulic Engineer by trade and was actually responsible for installing St.Petersburgs first water system that supplied fresh water to this pioneer town on the edge of Tampa Bay. Worshipful Coleman and his Wife Mary Ellen also built, owned, and ran the Paxton House Hotel which at the time was one of the largest hotels in the area boasting 32 rooms for guests and stayed open year round. The Paxton House Hotel was a block away from the Detroit Hotel on Central Ave and 1st Street. The location is now an empty lot as seen in the pictures attached. Through Worshipful Coleman’s guidance Lodge 139 was able to forge through the early years and last the test of time. Worshipful Coleman passed to the Celestial Lodge Above in 1909 and is interred at the historic greenwood cemetery which is located on 9th street and 11th ave s. like most of the other early pioneers of St.Petersburg.
The Greenwood Cemetery is not as well taken care of these days as it was in the past and has fallen into a bit of disrepair. It is our goal to make regular visits and do what we can to spruce it up and pay homage to our past brothers as we know they would do for us if the situations were reversed. Stay tuned for more info on this and future Past Master Spotlights! Our Next Past Master Spotlight will be on W:. George L. King and his role in providing St.Petersburg with building materials during the early days by use of his mill (the 1st in the community). Thank you for your attention brothers!