HISTORY OF BLUEGRASS LODGE #4
Bluegrass Lodge #4 is rich in history, as are all of the FOP Lodges in Kentucky and throughout the United States. The original FOP, founded in Pittsburg, PA in 1915 by Delbert Nagle and Martin Toole, has grown to over 325,000 members in 44 states and the District of Columbia. Currently, Kentucky is the 10th largest state lodge with almost 10,000 members. The Lexington Bluegrass Lodge is an open lodge and has grown to almost 1,000 members from various agencies and is the second largest lodge in Kentucky; however, we started from a very humble beginning.
The Lexington Bluegrass FOP Lodge #4 was issued its charter on December 1, 1946 with 92 members. The last surviving charter member, Charles Ransdell, died in 2008. 26 more members joined “Bluegrass 4” as it has come to be known after the charter was closed. When the lodge first opened it had 80 members of the Lexington Police Department with the remaining being made up of the Fayette County Police Department and other agencies. Bluegrass 4 was the 4th FOP lodge to be chartered in KY. In 1941, Covington Lodge #1, Newport Lodge #2, and Ashland Lodge #3 were chartered. At that time there were 28,000 members of the Fraternal Order of Police in 28 different states.
Bluegrass Lodge 4 held it’s very first meeting on Wednesday, December 11th, 1946. The meeting convened at 3pm and was held in the Commissioners’ Chambers on the third floor of the Old Municipal Building at 140 N. Walnut St. (later named Martin Luther King Blvd).
The following Officers were elected as the first sitting executive board of Bluegrass 4 by the Kentucky State FOP Secretary/Treasurer, Chester Fee:
OS McCaw, President
AA Bartlett, Vice President
Evelyn Chaney, Secretary
H.T. McClure, Treasurer
Harrison Sallee, Chaplain
G.W. Maupin, conductor
Harry Lucas, Trustee
Z.A. Carter, Trustee
A.L. Sharpe, Trustee
The first regular monthly meeting of Bluegrass Lodge 4 was held at 8:00pm on Wednesday, January 8th. At this meeting it was established that the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month would be designated meeting nights and the time would be 7pm. Bluegrass 4 held meetings bimonthly until 1967, at which point the meeting dates were amended to just monthly.
On February 12, 1947 Bluegrass Lodge #4 chartered the first associates lodge with 105 members in its first year and on May 5th, 1948 the first FOP auxiliary was chartered with 43 members. Mrs. John Kersey was named the first president.
For several years Bluegrass 4 held their meeting at various locations, including City Hall on Walnut Street, Police Headquarters, various fire stations, the University of Kentucky, and even locations in adjoining counties as well as the homes of several members.
In August 1949 Bluegrass Lodge #4 was host to the biennial National FOP Conference. The conference was held at the Phoenix Hotel on Main Street in downtown Lexington, what is now the site of Phoenix Park. At the time, the National FOP Conference was the largest convention ever to be held in Lexington.
At the September 1955 meeting, with a lodge treasury account busting at over $9,000, President Lloyd Lindsey appointed a building committee to search for a permanent home. Also at this meeting Brother Robert Duncan gave a lengthy report of the Legislative and City Manager’s pension plans as drawn up at a previous meeting. Even in the mid 1950’s pension issues were on the forefront of FOP issues.
Bluegrass Lodge #4 continued to look at properties on North Upper Street, Central Avenue, and North Mill Street. The building committee began looking at property on Walnut Street in October of 1957. The asking price for the property at 224 Walnut Street was $12,000, which the committee thought was overpriced. In the meantime, they were also investigating a five-acre piece of property for $25,000; however, this property was eventually passed over. Meanwhile, meetings were taking place in the basement of City Hall to discuss a proposed bill in Frankfort, KY regarding a proposed 40hour workweek for 2nd Class cities, including Lexington. Members of the Police department spoke before the Lexington Chamber of Commerce to plead their side.
At the March 1958 meeting it was approved to place a deposit of $500 on the property at 224 Walnut Street. In April 1958 a contract was signed on the property for $8,000. In early June 1958 there was discussion about the demolition of the existing building on the property. At 4am on the day that demolition was to begin, a fire started in the building. Details of the fire were never revealed and the insurance payout on the building was split with Chester Griffith, a member of Bluegrass 4 who was originally contracted to tear the old building down. At the June 1958 meeting it was also contracted that, in exchange for a $3,000 contribution towards the construction of a new building, the Ladies Auxiliary would be given the rights and privileges to use the new premises and shall be subject to the same privileges and limitations as any other member of the lodge.
At the July 1958 meeting plans were discussed to build a 40’x90’building on the property. Plans were ultimately drawn up for the new building which included a basement as well. Much of the work on the building was done by FOP members, as well as contractors.
On Wednesday, April 12, 1960 the first meeting of Bluegrass Lodge #4 was held in the new lodge at 224 Walnut Street. This location would remain our home for the next 50 years. Over the next several decades, membership continued to grow. We also began to outgrow our downtown location. In the mid 1980’s the idea of looking for a new home was first discussed and would continue to be brought up over the next several years.
In 1993, Scott Blakely was elected President of Bluegrass 4. President Blakely appointed a committee for the purpose of exploring new location options. In 1998 the Lansdowne Country Club on Lansdowne Drive went up for sale. In the fall of 1998 it was voted on that we explore purchasing the property. An offer was made, however, negotiations ultimately fell through. The property was sold to another buyer in May 1999. The search for a new Lodge 4 home continued with committees under Presidents Scott Blakely, Joe Hess and Chuck Massarone. Bluegrass Lodge 4 looked at several properties over the next several years, including land on Tates Creek Road in southern Fayette County, several acres of land on the Madden Estate at Winchester and I 75, and 15 acres of land on Hume Road. While many of these properties appeared to have potential, the cost of the property and renovations made the purchases cost prohibitive.
In 2003, the fight for state mandated collective bargaining was at the forefront of Bluegrass 4’s agenda. President Chuck Massarone and Gramby Smith were working extremely hard on this issue. In November 2003, with the backing of the Fraternal Order of Police, Ernie Fletcher was elected Governor of Kentucky. In 2004 the long hard fought battle was won and a dream of police officers in Lexington was finally realized when Governor Fletcher signed into law the bill allowing collective bargaining for police and fire departments in Lexington and Louisville. In 2005 the first collective bargaining committee of Bluegrass Lodge 4 was formed. The committee consisted of Mike Sweeney, Scott Blakely, Paul Williams, Rob Sarrantonio, Chris Schoonover, Alan Dobson, Jim Beaver, Jones Hiatt, Hilton Hastings, and Shannon Gahafer. The first agreement between President Chuck Massarone and then Mayor Teresa Isaac was signed in June 2005 and Lexington police officers received a very large pay increase and finally began making a competitive salary. The initial increase was over 15% and many officers received much more in their first year depending on their current pay scale. The officers also received an additional 5% increase each of the 3 years of the first contract. Additional contacts have subsequently been negotiated and have all resulted in continued pay increases for officers.
In 2008, FOP President Mike Sweeney again appointed a new building search committee to explore options for a new home for Bluegrass Lodge 4. Rob Sarrantonio, the 6 Year Trustee, was appointed chair of the committee. Real Estate Agent Peter Barr and the committee began conducting an exhaustive property search throughout various locations in Fayette County. In 2009, the FOP signed a contract for a tract of land on Old Frankfort Pike and Alexandria Drive. We entered into the contact with a local developer to purchase the property and begin construction of a new lodge. Part of the acreage was in a flood plain and posed some concern to the lodge. These concerns ultimately caused Bluegrass 4 to exit out of the contract and have the payments returned.
In February 2010 we located a 1912 era farmhouse that had been renovated and converted into Emmett’s Restaurant located off Tates Creek Road. The restaurant was closed in 2009 and the building was currently for sale. The property was inspected by the FOP building search committee and in early March 2010 all members of the lodge were invited to inspect the property for themselves. During the March 2010 meeting the motion was made from the committee to put an offer on the property for purchase. The motioned passed unanimously. The property was purchased in April 2010 for $1.2 million and renovations were completed in October 2010. The last meeting of Bluegrass Lodge #4 at 224 N. Martin Luther King was held on September 8th, 2010. The following month, on October 13th, 2010 we held the first meeting in our new and current home at 1097 Duval Street. To this day it is still referred by some local residents as “old Emmett’s Restaurant” and may well be for some time. Our current home sits on an acre and a half lot and has almost 9500 square feet sitting atop the highest point in Fayette County. While it took almost 30 years of searching for a home, we believe the result was well worth the wait.
Currently, there have been 25 presidents of Bluegrass Lodge #4:
Robert L. Duncan--------1957
Robert E. Duncan--------1974-75
We are still growing and taking in new members every month. We hope to expand on the history of Bluegrass #4 in the coming months and if you have any history, or information that you would like to share, please contact us.