Grand Lodge of Masons v. City of Burlington

Citation78 A. 973, 84 Vt. 202
Case DateJanuary 16, 1911
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Vermont
78 A. 973
84 Vt. 202

GRAND LODGE OF MASONS
v.
CITY OF BURLINGTON.

Supreme Court of Vermont. Chittenden.

Jan. 16, 1911.


Exceptions from Chittenden County Court; Zed S. Stanton, Judge.

Action by the Grand Lodge of Masons against the City of Burlington. There was a judgment for defendant, and plaintiff brings exceptions. Affirmed.

This is assumpsit for money paid to the defendant under protest for taxes on the plaintiff's Masonic Temple in said city for the years 1905, 1906, and 1907. By No. 259

78 A. 974

of the Acts of 1806, certain of the plaintiff's officers as such, and their successors in office, were given corporate powers with perpetuity, for the purpose of taking and holding real and personal estate for a site for a masonic temple, the building erected or to be erected thereon, and the furniture and furnishings of the same, for the use and benefit of the fraternity of Ancient, Free, and Accepted Masons of the State of Vermont, and other charitable purposes. Having acquired title to certain land in Burlington, the plaintiff, in 1898, erected thereon said Temple at a cost of about $82,000. The property was appraised in the quadrennial appraisal of that year, and set in the list of property exempt from taxation in the same way churches, school-houses, and such buildings are exempted. And the same disposition was made of it in the quadrennial appraisal of 1902. In 1904 the assessors of the city appraised the property, and set it in the grand list for taxation at a valuation of $60,000. The plaintiff appealed to the board of civil authority, which sustained the appeal and exempted the property, and the valuation was deducted from the grand list of that year, and the property was not taxed. In 1905 the assessors set the property in the grand list at $85,000, the valuation put upon it in the quadrennial appraisal of 1902. The plaintiff again appealed, but the appeal was not sustained, and the property remained in the taxable list at $85,000. The same thing occurred in 1906 and 1907, except that in 1907 the valuation put upon it by the assessors in the grand list was $60,000, which was the quadrennial appraisal of 1906. These taxes were not paid when due, but were subsequently paid under protest, to prevent a sale of the property for their collection.

The finding of facts say that "it was the claim of the plaintiff that said property was not taxable because it came within the provisions of the statute relating to the exemption of property from taxation for that it was property devoted to 'charitable' uses," and that the plaintiff also claimed that the taxes for 1905 and 1906 were wrongfully levied because the property had been set in the "exempt" list in the quadrennial appraisal of 1902, which was the basis on which the taxes for those years were levied. During the years in which the taxes sought to be recovered were assessed, the Temple was rented as follows, namely: The first floor, for stores; the second floor, for offices and a hall for public uses; the third, fourth, fifth, and sixth floors, to different masonic bodies for purposes connected with the order.

The plaintiff is now indebted for the construction of the Temple, as of June, 1909, in the sum of $35,000; and ever since the Temple was built, the income therefrom has been and now is, devoted according to the following resolutions of the Grand Lodge, namely: (1) "That the income from rent, together with the Temple fund, be kept separate from all other funds, and applied to the payment of janitor services, light, heat, repairs, and principal until the Temple is paid for, unless specially appropriated for charitable purposes;" and (2) "that when the Temple is paid for the net income from rent be set apart for the purpose of securing a Masonic Home and charitable uses, and that it be used for such purposes and such purposes only, forever."

The plaintiff is the governing body in Vermont of the secret society known as Freemasons, of which there are 12,500 in the state, distributed among 103 subordinate lodges, representatives of which annually assemble in Burlington and elect officers of the Grand Lodge. In addition to income derived from rentals as aforesaid, an annual fund is raised by per capita assessment of the members of the organization. The teachings of Freemasonry is a system of morality based upon and inculcated in the practice of moral and Christian virtues, especially the practice of brotherly love and relief, and the practice, or rather the recognition, of the cardinal virtues, particularly temperance, fortitude, and justice, and the Christian virtues of faith, hope, and charity. There are no regulations as to the methods of dispensing charity by the order, nor has the order any special system of such dispensation, nor any by which a member of the...

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8 practice notes
  • Nichols v. Cent. Vermont Ry. Co., No. 161.
    • United States
    • Vermont United States State Supreme Court of Vermont
    • 7 Octubre 1919
    ...v. Lang, 92 Vt. 501, 510, 104 Atl. 877; Brown v. Aitken, 88 Vt. 148, 92 Atl. 22, Ann. Cas. 1916D, 1152; Grand Lodge v. City of Burlington, 84 Vt. 202, 208, 78 Atl. 973; Van Dyke v. Grand Trunk Ry. Co., 84 Vt. 212, 240, 78 Atl. 958, Ann. Cas. 1913A, We come at once to the question presented ......
  • Arthur A. Bishop & Co. v. Thompson
    • United States
    • Vermont United States State Supreme Court of Vermont
    • 7 Octubre 1925
    ...motion to dismiss, and consequently cannot now be made in support of his exception to the ruling made. Grand Lodge of Masons v. Burlington, 84 Vt. 202, 78 A. 973; Nichols v. Central Vt. Ry. Co., 94 Vt. 14, 109 A. 905, 12 A. L. R. There was no evidence tending to show whether, prior to the i......
  • Grand Lodge of Vt., F. and A. M. v. City of Burlington
    • United States
    • Vermont United States State Supreme Court of Vermont
    • 18 Octubre 1932
    ...it is somewhat questionable whether the temple is sequestered or used for such a purpose. In Grand Lodge of Masons v. City of Burlington. 84 Vt. 202, 208, 78 A. 973, the question of the exemption of this same building was presented and considered. The court assumed, but did not decide, that......
  • Gifford Memorial Hospital v. Town of Randolph, No. 837
    • United States
    • Vermont United States State Supreme Court of Vermont
    • 1 Noviembre 1955
    ...property itself is meant, and not the remote and consequential benefit derived from its use. Grand Lodge of Masons v. City of Burlington, 84 Vt. 202, 208, 78 A. 973. It is the primary as distinguished from an incidental use of the property that determines whether it is exempt from taxation.......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
8 cases
  • Nichols v. Cent. Vermont Ry. Co., No. 161.
    • United States
    • Vermont United States State Supreme Court of Vermont
    • 7 Octubre 1919
    ...v. Lang, 92 Vt. 501, 510, 104 Atl. 877; Brown v. Aitken, 88 Vt. 148, 92 Atl. 22, Ann. Cas. 1916D, 1152; Grand Lodge v. City of Burlington, 84 Vt. 202, 208, 78 Atl. 973; Van Dyke v. Grand Trunk Ry. Co., 84 Vt. 212, 240, 78 Atl. 958, Ann. Cas. 1913A, We come at once to the question presented ......
  • Arthur A. Bishop & Co. v. Thompson
    • United States
    • Vermont United States State Supreme Court of Vermont
    • 7 Octubre 1925
    ...motion to dismiss, and consequently cannot now be made in support of his exception to the ruling made. Grand Lodge of Masons v. Burlington, 84 Vt. 202, 78 A. 973; Nichols v. Central Vt. Ry. Co., 94 Vt. 14, 109 A. 905, 12 A. L. R. There was no evidence tending to show whether, prior to the i......
  • Grand Lodge of Vt., F. and A. M. v. City of Burlington
    • United States
    • Vermont United States State Supreme Court of Vermont
    • 18 Octubre 1932
    ...it is somewhat questionable whether the temple is sequestered or used for such a purpose. In Grand Lodge of Masons v. City of Burlington. 84 Vt. 202, 208, 78 A. 973, the question of the exemption of this same building was presented and considered. The court assumed, but did not decide, that......
  • Gifford Memorial Hospital v. Town of Randolph, No. 837
    • United States
    • Vermont United States State Supreme Court of Vermont
    • 1 Noviembre 1955
    ...property itself is meant, and not the remote and consequential benefit derived from its use. Grand Lodge of Masons v. City of Burlington, 84 Vt. 202, 208, 78 A. 973. It is the primary as distinguished from an incidental use of the property that determines whether it is exempt from taxation.......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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