Armstrong Lodge No. 26 A.F. & A.M. was chartered on June 27, 1870 and could rightly be called the “mother Lodge” of Newport, because of the rapid rise in membership during the 1940’s and 50’s. It would help four Lodges get their start in the Newport area. Included would be Ionic Lodge No. 31 in 1950, Unity Lodge No. 32 in 1955, Christiana Lodge No. 35 in 1963 and High Noon Lodge No. 38 in 1978.
The events of the last fifty years have shone brightly from the labors of the quarries of Armstrong Lodge No. 26. In addition to the formation of new Lodges they have also had the honor of four of them members being elected Grand Master of Masons in Delaware; Joseph W. H. Watson, served two terms, in 1880 and 1881, Paul Yearsley in 1947, Arthur G. Craig in 1965 and David J. Marianelli in 1989.
In 1964, PGM Paul Yearsley retired as Treasurer of the Lodge after twenty-two years of service. He was the first DeMolay to occupy the office of Grand Master in 1947. In 1971, PGM Arthur G. Craig retired as Secretary of the Lodge after twenty-three years of service in that office.
After serving as Senior Grand Warden and Deputy Grand Master, Grand Master-elect Edward P. Sturgis was called from labor on September 15, 1974 about two weeks prior to his scheduled installation as a very young Grand Master at the age of 40. Brother “Ed” was a hard working Master Mason who had been awarded nearly every honor possible as a DeMolay, including the DeMolay Cross of Honor.
While many brethren have been involved in the in the maintenance of the Newport Masonic Temple over the years, few can equal the tireless efforts of Past Master Raymond Loose and Brother Robert W. Heinel. Though they have been called from labor, their devotion to serving the membership in providing a well-maintained facility will long be remembered and appreciated by the various bodies that use the facility.
Through the influence of PGM Craig, the early English Table Lodge was reconstituted at Armstrong Lodge. It proved to be a very popular event and it was not unusual to have 250 to 300 brethren in attendance.
As part of the 100th Anniversary Celebration of Armstrong Lodge, a public installation of officers was held at the H.C. Conrad High School Athletic Field on June 27, 1970. Much hard work had to be done to make this event a success, as the field had not been in use for some time. In addition, the Lodge furniture had to be moved to the field as well. There were over 200 family members and friends who watched from the bleachers.
On April 18, 2002 the officers and members of Armstrong Lodge presented a long overdue tribute to PGM Arthur G. “Pete” Craig. This event was well attended and included Grand Master James S. Russell, Jr., nine Past Grand Masters and about eighty other brethren.