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Copyright © 2004-201
International Ship Masters' Association
Detroit Lodge No. 7, Inc.
All Rights Reserved

Hosted By Arvixe

Welcome to the Detroit Lodge No. 7 Website

Our membership includes people from all aspects of the maritime community, including ship masters, mates, tug and yacht officers, boat operators, shoreside managers, and related business interests.  Detroit Lodge No. 7 is the largest lodge in the International Shipmasters' Association.

We support the I.S.M.A. Grand Lodge, and share its mission:
  • To be the respected voice of licensed professional mariners in matters related to navigation and safety on waters of the Great lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway System. In this process, we work with, and provide input to, regulatory agencies, legislative bodies, industry associations and other working groups on matters affecting navigational safety.

  • To provide opportunities for licensed merchant mariners to network, to offer their feedback, and to enhance their knowledge in a variety of ways.

  • To maintain mutual respect, support, and encouragement among our members, and to promote the pursuit of personal and professional excellence.

  • To encourage and assist those preparing for careers as merchant marine officers.


Detroit Lodge No. 7 has a long and proud history.  Over the years, our membership has included many well-known ship Captains and prominent Detroiters.   

The history of our lodge dates back to the spring of 1890, when organizers from the  Shipmasters' Association visited Detroit in hopes of forming a lodge. Following the passage of several months, and much discussion, it was determined there was sufficient interest within the marine community to sustain a lodge in Detroit.  In March of 1891, Grand President Alexander Clark responded, when he traveled to Detroit from Buffalo. He was accompanied by the father of the association, Captain Martin Niland, who acted as Grand Marshal.   (Click Here for newspaper article announcing the formation of Detroit Lodge No. 7)

Organized with 34 charter members, the lodge was issued a charter by the Grand Lodge on April 2, 1891 and was designated as Lodge No. 7. Captain George McCullagh was elected lodge President; Charles L. Wilson, First-Vice President; and John C. Shaw, Secretary. Within a short time, the membership had increased to 90. The following fall, a large hall at 12 Woodward Avenue was rented and fitted up in elegant style. The new quarters, located on the 3rd floor of the Detroit United Railway Company headquarters, contained a well-stocked library, along with reading, club, and meeting rooms. In 1907, the lodge rooms moved to the 2nd floor of the Biddle House, at 234 Jefferson Avenue.  The quarters at the Biddle House included a billiard room, along with a parlor and library for the Ladies Auxiliary.  The lodge rooms moved again to several locations over the years, including rooms on the 7th floor of the Merchants Building from 1933 to 1939, the Lincoln Building (now demolished) from April of 1939 to March of 1946, the Barlum Hotel (later called the Henrose Hotel) from December of 1946 to March of 1961, and the Pick-Fort Shelby Hotel from January of 1962 to 1968.  In January of 1968, by arrangement with Curator Robert E. Lee, lodge meetings shifted to the Dossin Great Lakes Museum on Belle Isle.  When John Polacsek took over as Curator in 1981, he continued that arrangement until his retirement in 2006.  Since January of 2007, the lodge has been meeting at the Island Cove Marina on the Clinton River, and at the J.W. Westcott Company on the Detroit River.  Our last winter meeting is traditionally held at Mariners’ Church of Detroit. 

Lodge meetings are held about every 10 days during the winter months. Luncheons precede the meetings, allowing members and their guests enjoy each other’s company and discuss the issues of the day.  Business meetings follow the luncheons and speakers are often invited to address the members on issues pertaining to safety and navigation on the Great Lakes.  Occasional meetings are scheduled in the evening as joint functions with the lodge’s auxiliary, spouses and guests.

The Lodge Dinner Dance, an annual event since 1891, is the longest running dinner dance in Detroit’s history.  For many years, the dinner-dance was a major event on the city's social calendar.  In 1914, attendance peaked at 4000 guests when the event was held at the newly-opened Arcadia Dancing Hall on Woodward Avenue.   

Over the years, Lodge No. 7 has provided a number of prominent mariners who have served faithfully as Grand Lodge Officers and committee members. As far as can be determined from existing I.S.M.A. records and directories, the following have brought honor to Detroit Lodge No. 7 by serving as Grand Lodge President:

Capt. George McCullagh (1896 & 1897)
Capt. Alexander J. McKay (1900)
Capt. Herbert H. Parsons (1904)
Capt. Murray G. McIntosh (1907 & 1908)
Capt. Charles J. Autterson (1914)
Capt. William J. Crosby (1916 thru 1918)
Capt. Lee C. DeNike (1920 thru 1924)
Capt. Fred N. Watts (1928)
Capt. George W. Wilson (1937)
Capt. Rudolph C. Hoglund (1943)
Capt. Shirel D. Ferson (1962)
Capt. Donald E. Erickson (1970)
Capt. Gustav Goransson (1977)
Capt. William A. Hoey III (1983)
Capt. Ronald R. Ingram (1991)
Capt. Patrick F. Owens (2002)
Capt. Thomas R. McMullen (2011)

Detroit hosted its first I.S.M.A. convention in 1895.  In more recent years, Lodge No. 7 has hosted conventions in 1962 at the Pick-Fort Shelby Hotel in Detroit; in 1970 at the Detroit Hilton (Statler) Hotel; in 1977 at the Dearborn Inn; in 1983 at the Northfield Hilton in Troy; in 1991 at the Fairlane Holiday Inn in Detroit; in 2002 at the Doubletree Hotel in Novi, and in 2011, at the same location as the 1962 convention, now known as the Doubletree Fort Shelby Hotel in Downtown Detroit.   

On April 2, 2011, the lodge celebrated its 120th anniversary.  {Click Here for photos}

For a list of past officers of Lodge No. 7, Click Here.

Early History of ISMA from 1965 ISMA Directory (pdf)

Early History of ISMA - article written by Jay C. Martin (external link)