The original home of the civil-rights group led by Martin Luther King Jr. is getting a $10.2 million facelift.
The Prince Hall Masonic Lodge on Auburn Avenue — known for its old-school white and green neon sign hanging off a corner — housed the first office of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. It will get a new roof, windows, air conditioning, electrical works, elevator and a recreation of King’s office.
Numerous documents and memorabilia related to King and the civil rights movement stored inside the building will be preserved, according to a report prepared by architectural firm Lord Aeck Sargent.
BROTHERS OF H. R. BUTLER LODGE No. 23
ABOUT US PAGE
HISTORY OF H. R. BUTLER LODGE NO. 23Lodge History over 122 years . . .
“As a race, we are too backward in the matter of recording our history. We are too prone to leave it to the other fellow and when he twists it, we are never able to correct it. Let us take time by the forelock and historically establish our legal right to this Masonic
Jurisdiction so if ever an occasion calls for it, we would not have to depend upon anybody but ourselves.”
– Dr. Henry Rutherford Butler, GM
(June 21, 1921)
The history of H.R. Butler Lodge No. 23 grew out of the merger of Rising Sun Lodge No. 23, Progressive Lodge No. 181, and Refuge Lodge 243. The merger was precipitated as a result of the Depression of 1929, whereby the membership decreased drastically in numbers and the need for internal Grand Lodge intervention to recognize the Lodge system within the state became a necessity.
Rising Sun Lodge No. 23 was chartered on June 20, 1887, in Atlanta, Georgia by the Most Worshipful Union Grand Lodge, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons for the Jurisdiction and state of Georgia, under the stewardship of Grand Master Alexander Harris. This Lodge and St. James Lodge No. 4 were the only Lodges within the Masonic district of Atlanta during this period. From this noble inception, Rising Sun Lodge No. 23 established and maintained the highest Masonic standards that were in keeping with the Charter issued from England to Prince Hall and others of Boston, Massachusetts in 1784, where we and all regular Prince Hall Masons trace their lineage.
The Masters and Wardens of Rising Sun Lodge No. 23 were Masons of substance and often the most honorable members of our race at that time. These officers were held in high esteem within the Lodge, their communities and in their professional endeavors. They had set a fine example and constantly admonished the membership of guarding over their outward demeanor and being upright men and Masons in their laudable undertakings. The members of Rising Sun met regularly and conducted their affairs according to Masonic customers and tradition by learned members of the Craft, Collectively, they attended to the sick, funeralized their dead and consistently contributed to the relief of their deserving Brethren, their widows, and orphans.
The caliber of Masons who made up the membership of Rising Sun were always at the forefront in their Masonic endeavors and constantly inspired leadership, dedication and demonstrated ability, to include aiding coexisting Lodges within the district. Past Masters and members such as, George B. Nichols, E. B. Gibson, Edward Williams, J. Verdelle, L. D. Milton, J. B. Blayton, C.R. Yates, W.L. Murdaugh, Bishop W.A. Foundation and Robert Paschal, and a host of others who were instrumental in keeping the Lodge in a steady and harmonious state, provided leadership, guidance, and the business sense in influencing the Lodge direction and prosperity.
Progressive Lodge No. 181 and Refuge Lodge No. 243 were also outstanding in their Masonic and civic attributes. Both were chartered in the early 1900’s. Progressive Lodge No. 181 was located was in Dixie (Hill) and came into existence as outgrowth of the Progressive Whist Club. This Club was composed of young fraternal Brethren who had created a bond of friendship and morality. Because of their belief in the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man, they were encouraged to petition for a Lodge. Each member pledged his support of the Lodge equally as well as they had faithfully supported their club.
Their petition was approved, and they were established as a Progressive Lodge of Masons. Past Master A. McClendon was raised in Progressive Lodge No. 181 in 1911, along with Brother John Wesley Dobbs. Both served as its Master and the latter became Grand Master of the State and Jurisdiction. Past Master McClendon served as the Lodge’s Secretary for about nine years, one year in each Wardens position. After serving as Master, he was elected Treasurer. He served in this capacity until the merger of the three Lodges, where he was subsequently elected Treasurer of H.R. Butler Lodge No. 23. He held this position until 1958 and was succeeded by Brother Robert J. Walters. Progressive Lodge No. 181 benefited from the strong relationship of Worshipful Master John W. Dobbs, C.W. Reeves, Daniel T. Robinson, MD, and W.H. Ragin, who had a wealth of Masonic Knowledge and experience.
Refuge Lodge No. 243 was also chartered in Atlanta. It advanced in membership and excellence as did the other Lodges in the area. By 1920 the Lodge had 96 members on its roll. One of its noteworthy Past Masters was Brother Irvin McDuffie, who served the Lodge in several of its stations before becoming the Master. He played an active part in the Lodge’s growth, and he inspired Masonic learning and support of the Lodge. Past Master McDuffie later became the valet and personal attendant to the President of the United States, the Honorable Franklin D. Roosevelt. He returned to the Lodge in 1938 when its name had changed and was given the honor of presiding over it. He reminded the Past Masters who served Refuge Lodge were Maurice Woodward, T.H. Slater, MD, J.F. Middleton, J.B. Stroud, Arthur Winston, and Robert H. Herndon. Brother John T. Gill joined Refuge during the merger and subsequently became the Master of H.R. Butler Lodge No. 23.
The Depression of 1929 left it devastating mark upon the Masonic Jurisdiction because of economic conditions and the need for employment. Many members left the state to seek employment in other parts of the United States. The impact of this occurrence transpired within a course of three years. The growth of nineteen Lodges in the Atlanta District consisted of 1472 members. This situation caused this number to drop to ten active Lodges, with a membership of 747. Rising Sun and Refuge was hanging in the balance. From 1929 to 1932, Rising Sun membership decreased from 133 to 12 in number. The condition of Lodges was of profound concern to the Prince Hall family. Lodges officers and members came from all over the state and pleaded with Grand Master Dobbs to save Masonry.
Moreover, on January 28, 1933, Grand Master Dobbs called the Grand Lodge in Executive Session in Macon, Georgia to come to grips with this and other problems within the Jurisdiction. In Grand Master Dobbs opening remarks, he said, “Grand Master W.E. Terry was the father of our Masonic home; Grand Master H.R. Butler gave us the Masonic Relief Association (MRA) and expanded our Order to its present growth, now it falls to my lot as your Grand Master today to save the work and labor of these illustrious predecessors.” Upon the advice and recommendations of the Grand Lodge attorneys, mergers and the other economic means were accepted by this august body. This landmark decision is the consequence of our existence and continuing health of Masonry within this Jurisdiction.
The Grand Master executed his plan and began to recognize, merge, reinstate defunct Lodges and bring back members of Rising Sun, Progressive and Refuge Lodges. He was instrumental in building up the Lodge’s membership because he was then the sitting Master. On September 20, 1935, letters were dispatched to Refuge Lodge and four others within the Atlanta district, notifying them that in keeping with the authority granted at the Sixty-Fifth Grand Lodge Communication, these Lodges would be merged with the five oldest Atlanta Lodges. On December 27, 1935, Progress Lodge No. 181, Refuge Lodge No. 242, and Rising Sun Lodge No. 23 became H.R. Butler Lodge No. 23.
The “23” was retained and assigned to the new Lodge in accordance with Masonic Custom, that being, the oldest number is retained. The Lodge was named in honor of the Jurisdiction’s ninth Grand Master; Dr. Henry Rutherford Butler, who served as Grand Master from 1900 to 1931. With the advent and passing of the Depression, the Lodge was in a state of transition because the economic and social conditions of the country and state were favorably changing. All the true and real Masons were once again returning to the Lodge. Because of better times and better money circulation, the best of men came knocking at the Lodge door for admission. The officers and members met the challenges in which they were confronted and labored strenuously in building the membership with better men in the name and cause of Masonry.
From the date of H.R. Butler Lodge No. 23’s inception, the Lodge started out with some of the best Masonic scholars, ritualistic and professional businessman within the Jurisdiction. The talents these men brought into the Lodge through this merger were exceptional and balanced according to the Lodge’s needs. Each member who was fortunate to serve in the Lodge’s highest office did so with distinction. Each Master made his contribution in his own selfless manner; instituted noteworthy landmark decisions and brought the Lodge forward in superlative style. Accordingly, it was apparent that H.R. Butler Lodge No. 23 pooled its resources and adhered to the tenets of Faith, Hope and Charity, coupled with the fostering of a common virtue, Brotherly Love and Favor. A debt of gratitude is owed to men like Grand Master Dobbs, Thomas Slack, John T. Gill, Thomas H. Slater, and H. Carroll, to include the membership who also made all this possible and set the standards for those who followed their lead.
The Lodge has met on a regular basis in the Lodge room above Hanley’s Funeral Home on Bell Street, as previously was done before the merger. In 1935 the Lodge moved and met in the Herndon Building, and in 1936 a move to the Odd Fellow’s Building was inevitable. The Lodge was scheduled to move into the current Grand Lodge Building on 330 Auburn Avenue in 1938, but some unavoidable circumstances delayed this occurrence until 1940. During this year, all five Lodges and the female auxiliary made the transition. The business of the Lodge continued.
Throughout the years H.R. Butler Lodge No. 23 has dedicated itself to the principles and standards of its founding fathers and has kept the Masonic tradition alive through its teaching and the promulgation of its ancient precepts. The Lodge has upheld its obligations to coexisting Lodges, the Order of the Eastern Star Chapters, and its civic responsibilities. The Lodge has instituted worthwhile programs and projects which have been instrumental in its growth and health as a first-class Lodge of the highest caliber. Some significant events that occurred in the past: Brother C.E. Protho was the first to be appointed to the created position of Assistant Secretary.
This position came about because of the Lodge’s growth and business activity; the establishing of a Fellowcraft Club to perfect a degree team; financial investment endeavors; ritual memorization; establishing a funeral team; picketing with students to tear down discrimination within the city; contributing to the NAACP endeavors and obtaining life membership therein; supporting the National Urban League; Butler Street YMCA sponsorships; support of local churches, and other worthwhile Lodge and civic functions to show concern for those things that “ought” to be done, as envisioned and acted upon in 1887, 1935 and even today.
On August 6, 1948, Brother Amos Daniel expressed the need for the Lodge to have a set of By-laws. On June 20, 1975, DDGM George Sturdevant voiced the same necessity. Several of the Master’s had unsuccessfully attempted to obtain a Warrant in the Name of H.R. Butler Lodge No. 23, instead of the Warrant of Rising Sun No. 23 that was being used over the years. On January 1960, Grand Master Dobbs recommended to the Lodge that the history should be recorded this year and thereafter every five years. These three things got lost somewhere as the Lodge progressed on with the business at hand… (H.R. Butler Lodge No. 23 F. & A.M., 2008).
Henry Rutherford Butler
Henry Rutherford Butler, a respected physician and pharmacist with offices on Auburn Avenue in Atlanta, was a pioneer in medicine and healthcare for African Americans during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. He was married to Selena Sloan Butler, a prominent teacher and education advocate in Atlanta.
In addition to establishing the first licensed black-owned pharmacy in Georgia, Butler was a founding member of several African American physicians’ organizations, as well as a civic leader and prolific writer. In many ways, his life represents the historical yet paradoxical development of a southern urban African American elite class between the eras of Reconstruction and the modern civil rights movement, decades marked by widespread segregation and discrimination.
He was born on April 11, 1862, to Caroline Noyes and Henry Butler in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Between 1872 and 1874 his family moved to Wilmington, in the southern portion of the state. He had one known brother, Philip. Like many African Americans living in rural environments during the late nineteenth century, Butler spent his youth on a farm, where he received no formal education. As he grew older, he helped to support the family through work in local hotels and lumber mills. During this time E. E. Green, a noted African American educator who later became a physician and druggist in Macon, Georgia, played a pivotal role in Butler’s education. In the evenings after work, Green and his wife tutored Butler in preparation for college. The effort proved a success, and in 1883 Butler entered Lincoln University in Pennsylvania. After graduating four years later, he continued his education at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee, where he graduated with a medical degree in 1890.
That same year, Butler moved to Atlanta, where he began his medical practice. In 1893 he married Selena Sloan, a native of Thomasville and a graduate of Spelman College. Henry Rutherford Butler Jr., the couple’s only child, was born in 1899. Following in his father’s footsteps, Butler Jr., a graduate of Atlanta University (later Clark Atlanta University) and Harvard University Medical School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, became a doctor and established a medical practice and family in Los Angeles, California.
As Jim Crow took hold of the region, Butler and his Meharry classmate Thomas Heathe Slater established a medical practice and drugstore for black residents on Wheat Street (later Auburn Avenue) in 1891. The two obtained the first pharmacy license in Georgia to be granted to African Americans. Butler and Slater purchased a store owned by J. C. Huss, a white druggist who trained Moses Amos, the first licensed African American pharmacist in Georgia. After two decades in business, Butler Slater and Company changed ownership when Amos bought the drugstore, reopening it in 1914 in the Odd Fellows building near the corner of Butler Street (later Jesse Hill Jr. Drive) and Auburn Avenue. Butler’s medical practice, however, spanned forty years. Later in his career, around 1912, Butler furthered his studies in gynecology, obstetrics, and pediatrics at Harvard University Medical School.
Outside of his practice, Butler cofounded the first professional organizations for black physicians at local, state, and national levels. These included the Atlanta Medical Association of Physicians, Dentists, and Pharmacists (later Atlanta Medical Association) in 1890 and the Georgia State Medical Association of Physicians, Dentists, and Pharmacists (later the Georgia State Medical Association) in 1893. While the Cotton States and International Exposition of 1895 cast a spotlight on Georgia’s African Americans, primarily through Booker T. Washington’s famous “Atlanta Compromise” speech, it also was the occasion that bore witness to the birth of the National Medical Association, cofounded by Butler. His other contributions to the health and well-being of the city and state’s black citizenry included the establishment in 1909 of Atlanta’s Fair Haven Infirmary, a contemporary of other hospitals that opened during the early twentieth century for African American doctors and patients. Butler also served as both dean and principal teacher at the School of Nursing at Morris Brown College in Atlanta.
Adding to Butler’s professional achievements were his community activities. He wrote general interest columns and stories about the city’s African American community for the Atlanta Constitution and the Atlanta Independent, a black newspaper published from 1903 to 1928 that described itself as the “official organ of the Grand United Order of Odd Fellows and Knights of Pythias.” He played a significant role in establishing social and cultural institutions for African American boys and young men, chief among them the Butler Street YMCA and, along with educator John Hope, District Ten of the Atlanta Area Boy Scouts of America. Butler and his wife were early members of the Commission on Interracial Cooperation, founded in 1919, which later merged with the Southern Regional Council. He was also a member of the Big Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, where he served as a steward until his death.
Among Butler’s fraternal affiliations were Omega Psi Phi and Sigma Pi Phi fraternities and the Prince Hall Masons of Georgia. In the latter, Butler was the ninth grand master of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Georgia from 1901 until his death in 1931, when he was succeeded by John Wesley Dobbs, who served until his death in 1961. Under Butler’s leadership, the lodge went from an organization encumbered with liabilities to one that prospered. When the Pan-African Congress, organized by W. E. B. Du Bois in 1919 to challenge the European colonization of Africa, held its second meeting in 1921, Butler served as a delegate representing the Masons of Georgia.
Butler died on December 17, 1931. He and his wife, who died in 1964, are buried in Atlanta’s Oakland Cemetery. In 1955 Lincoln University, Butler’s alma mater, awarded him an honorary Doctor of Science degree. That same year, the Yonge Street Elementary school in Atlanta was renamed Henry R. Butler Elementary School. The family papers of Selena Sloan Butler are housed at the Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History in Atlanta.
PAST MASTER H. R. BUTLER LODGE No. 23
PICTURES OF PAST MASTERS
H. R. BUTLER, LODGE No. 23
Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Georgia
PAST MASTERS WHO SERVED
H. R. BUTLER, LODGE No. 23
FROM 1935 – 2014
John Wesley Dobbs, P. G. M 1935
William H. Ragan 1935
Thomas H. Slack 1936
Horace Carroll 1937
John T. Gill 1938 – 1939
Joseph Crawford 1940 – 1943
Eugene A. Chambliss 1944 – 1945
W. E. Mimms, Sr. 1946 – 1947
B. F. Widemon 1948 – 1949
George Sturdevant 1950 – 1951
Howard L. Ray 1952
Robert J. Walters 1953
Howard L. Ray 1954
Augustus Hogan 1955 – 1956
Port Royal Scott 1957 – 1958
A. J. Drake 1959 – 1960
Isaac Collier 1961
PAST MASTERS WHO SERVED
H. R. BUTLER, LODGE No. 23
FROM 1935 – 2014 Continue
Guy Finch 1962
Joseph Pinazee 1963
Eugene A. Chambliss, Jr. 1964 – 1965
Willie L. Schofield 1966 – 1967
Orville W. Stevens 1968
John H. Hollis 1969 – 1970
Ben Worthy 1971 – 1972
Thomas L. Rucker 1973 – 1974
Jerome Johnson 1975 – 1976
Daniel L. Johnson 1977 – 1978
William A. German 1979
Saul White 1980
Edward A. Driver 1981 – 1982
Benjamin P. Barksdale, P. G. M 1983 – 1984
Freddie A. Wideman 1985 – 1986
Sam A. McDonald 1987 – 1988
Aaron Kent, Sr. 1989 – 1990
Veonzell Woods 1991 – 1992
WHERE IT ALL BEGIN
A Brief History of Prince Hall Freemasonry
Our Patriarch, Prince Hall was said to be born on September 12, 1748, in Bridgetown Barbados, West Indies. This has been refuted by such Masonic powerhouses as Harry E. Davis and Joseph A. Walkes, Jr. due to the lack of evidence available to substantiate this claim, but this does not rule it out altogether. The date of his birth is more ascertainable, due to the death notice extracted from the Boston Gazette, “Friday morning Mr. Prince Hall, age 72, Master of African Lodge” (Boston Gazette, 1807; The Black Square and Compass, 3). This age would make his date of birth be around 1735. Most facts concerning Prince Hall were originated from the mind Past Grand Master William H. Grimshaw of Washington, D.C. in his book, the Official History of Freemasonry among Colored People in North America. It is interesting to note that most of the facts concerning Prince hall has come from Grimshaw and unfortunately the educational system and Freemasonry has accepted these myths as facts.
Legend has it that Prince Hall served in the Revolutionary War, although documented information is hard to substantiate. This is complicated by the fact that there were several persons of African American descent going by the same name as Prince Hall. There were at least three Prince Halls in military documents, but we cannot be certain that our Founder Prince Hall was either one. We cannot rule out, however, that said records could be in error and that one could be our Prince Hall. Charles Welsey’s book, Prince Hall: Life and Legacy, provides good information on the matter of his records. The exact place of his gravesite is even uncertain. For more insight on this you can consult Joseph A. Walkes’ book, Prince Hall Square and Compass.
What documentation exists about this mysterious man? We do know that Prince Hall wrote a letter of protest, petitioning against the institution of slavery in the colonies and sent it to the Massachusetts legislature (see page 145 -146). The document can be dated at February 27, 1788. He also wrote two charges to the African Grand Lodge in 1782 and 1797. One of the charges is considered to the first public address by an African American. We know that the first Lodge chartered by Prince Hall and 14 others was in Boston known as African Lodge #459. The Lodge also authorized African Lodge #459A in Philadelphia, PA and Hiram Lodge in Rhode Island. These three Lodges met in Boston in 1791 for the purpose of forming African Grand Lodge of North America and elected Prince Hall as the first Grand master. Our first Grand Master and founder for Freemasonry among Black Americans served until his death in 1807.
These are the accepted facts: Prince Hall and fourteen other blacks were initiated in Army Lodge #441 in Boston on March 6, 1775. This was an Irish Lodge attached to the 38th Regiment of Foot British Army garrisoned at castle Williams, Boston Harbor. When the Revolution ended, the Lodge being a Military entity and under the Grand Lodge of Ireland, came under General Gage and the Worshipful Master Sergeant J. B. Batt, who had moved near New York. Legend has it that the Army Lodge left Prince Hall the dispensation or permit to meet and assemble and bury the dead and this is how African Lodge #1 was organized. At this time, African Americans never referred to themselves as Indian, Negro, or Colored. Thence, the name African Lodge.
MWGM Prince Hall — Petition Letter against the Institution of Slavery:
…we, or our ancestors have been taken from our dear connections and brought from Africa and put into a state of slavery in this country; from which unhappy situation we have been lately in some measure delivered by the new constitution which has been adopted by this state, or by a free act of our former masters. But we yet to find ourselves, in many respects, in very disagreeable and disadvantageous circumstances; most of which must attend us, so long as we and out children live in America.
This, and other considerations, which we need not here particularly mention, induce us earnestly to desire to return to Africa, our native country, which warm climate is much more natural and agreeable to us; and, for which the god of nature has formed us; and, where we shall live among our equals, and be more comfortable and happy, that we can be in our present situation; and, at the same time, may have the prospect of usefulness to our brethren there.
This leads us humbly to propose the following plan to the consideration of this honorable Court. The soil of the native country is good and produces the necessities of life in great abundance. There are large tracts of uncultivated lands, which, if proper application were made for them, it is presumed, might be obtained, and would be freely given for those to settle upon, who shall be disposed to return to them. When this shall be affected by several Blacks, sent there for this purpose, who shall be thought most capable of making such an application, and transacting business; then they who are disposed to go and settle there shall form themselves into a civil society, united by a political constitution, in which they shall agree. And those who are disposed, and shall be thought qualified, shall unite, and be formed into a religious society, or Christian church; and have one or more blacks ordained as their pastor or Bishops: And being formed, shall remove to Africa, and settle on said lands.
These must be furnished with necessary provisions for the voyage; and with farming utensils necessary to cultivate the land; and with the materials which cannot at present be obtained there, and which will be needed to build houses and mills.
The execution of this plan will, we hope, be the means of enlightening and civilizing those nations, who are now sunk in ignorance and barbarity; and may give opportunity to those who shall be disposed and engaged to promote the salvation of their heathen brethren, to spread the knowledge of Christianity among them, and persuade them to embrace it. And schools may be formed to instruct their youth and children, and Christian knowledge be spread through many nations who now are in gross darkness; and Christian nations churches be formed, and the only true God and Savior be worshipped and honored through that vast extent of country, where are now the habitations of cruelty under the reign of the prince of darkness.
This may also lay a happy foundation for a friendly and lasting connection between that country and the United States of America, by a mutual intercourse and profitable commerce which, ay much more than overbalance all the expense which is now necessary to carry this plan into effect.
This leads us to observe, that we are poor and utterly unable to prosecute this scheme or to return to Africa, without assistance. Money is wanted to enable those who shall be appointed, to go to Africa, and procure lands to settle upon; and to obtain a passage for us and our families; and to furnish us with the necessary provisions and the utensils and articles that have been mentioned.
We therefore humbly and earnestly apply to this honorable Court, hoping and praying that in your wisdom and goodness, you concert and prosecute the best method to relieve and assist us either by granting a brief for a collection in all the congregations in this state, or in any other way, which shall to your wisdom appear most expedient.
Massachusetts State Archives: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part2/2h59.html
On March 6, 1775, Prince Hall and 14 men of color were made masons in Lodge #441 of the Irish Registry attached to the 38th British Foot Infantry at Castle William Island in Boston Harbor, Massachusetts. It marked the first time that Black men were made masons in America. About a year later, since the conflict between England and America had commenced, the British Foot Infantry left Boston, along with its lodge, leaving Prince Hall and his associates without a lodge. Before the lodge left, Worshipful Master Batt, gave them a “permit” to meet as a lodge and bury their dead in manner and form. This permit, however, did not allow them to do any “masonic work” or to take in any new members.
Under it, African Lodge was organized on July 3, 1776, with Prince Hall as the worshipful master. It wasn’t long before this lodge received an additional “permit” from Provincial Grand Master John Rowe to walk in procession on St. John’s Day.
On March 2, 1784, African Lodge #1 petitioned the Grand Lodge of England, the Premier or Mother Grand Lodge of the world, for a warrant (or charter), to organize a regular masonic lodge, with all the rights and privileges thereunto prescribed.
The Grand Lodge of England issued a charter on September 29, 1784, to African Lodge #459, the first lodge of Blacks in America.
African Lodge #459 grew and prospered to such a degree that Worshipful Master Prince Hall was appointed a Provincial Grand Master, in 1791, and out of this grew the first Black Provincial Grand Lodge.
In 1797 he organized a lodge in Philadelphia and one in Rhode Island. These lodges were designated to work under the charter of African Lodge #459.
In December 1808, one year after the death of Prince Hall, African Lodge #459 (Boston), African Lodge #459 (Philadelphia) and Hiram Lodge #3 (Providence) met in a general assembly of the craft and organized African Grand Lodge (sometime referred to as African Grand Lodge #1).
In 1847, out of respect for their founding father and first Grand Master, Prince Hall, they changed their name to the Prince Hall Grand Lodge, the name it carries today. In 1848 Union Lodge #2, Rising Sons of St. John #3 and Celestial Lodge #4 became the first lodges organized under the name Prince Hall Grand Lodge.
From these beginnings, there now are some 5,000 lodges and 47 grand lodges who trace their lineage to the Prince Hall Grand Lodge, Jurisdiction of Massachusetts.
The tradition started by Bro. Prince Hall over 200 years ago is still carried on today.
• Henry R. Butler, M.D. | Atlanta | 1901 -1932*
• John W. Dobbs | Atlanta | 1932 -1962*
• Xenophon L. Neal, Ph. D | Atlanta | 1962 -1990
• Neal McQueen | Augusta | 1990 -1995
• Benjamin P. Barksdale | Atlanta | 1995 -2000
• Willie L. Williams | Fort Valley | 2000 -2005
• Ramsey Davis, Jr. | Atlanta | 2005 – 2010
• Douglas M. Jones | Statesboro | 2010 – 2014
• Bruce A. James | Thomasville| 2014 – 2019
• Corey D. Shackleford, Sr. | Atlanta | 2019 – 2022
• Primus T. James | Atlanta | 2022 – present