Friday, September 18, 2015

African American Masonic Hall

African Americans were Masons? 
Did you know that? 
I didn't.

In doing a little local history searching, I ran across this tidbit, 
The Beulah Grove Lodge, No. 371, Free and Accepted York Masons.  

Here is the article written by Lynn Speno, Survey and Register Specialist. 
She explains it so much better than I could.

"What do a church, a cemetery, a lodge meeting hall, and a school have in common?   They are all part of a small, rural, historic African American community in Douglas County.  In this community of Pleasant Grove, a church and Masonic lodge were founded around 1881 and a church building was constructed.  About 20 years later, around 1910, a dual-purpose lodge/school building was constructed, at which time classes for children began. This lodge/school building, the Beulah Grove Lodge No.372, Free and Accepted York Masons/Pleasant Grove School, was recently listed in the National Register of Historic Places for the role it played in the education and social history of the community. 

Masonic lodges played an important role in African American communities. They provided venues for social gatherings.  Masons were commonly the community leaders, such as preachers, teachers, and businessmen. Many of the lodges were small independent organizations that functioned largely as mutual aid societies and originated in churches.  Their headquarters were generally two-story frame structures, unpainted, without a ceiling, and with unfinished interior walls.  If the Masons had no building, they met in churches, other lodges, or abandoned buildings. Women’s groups such as the Order of the Eastern Star often used the lodge building for their meetings.

Many African American Masonic lodges also used their buildings for classroom space on the first floor, while they met on the second floor.  From the end of the Civil War until the 1930s, most of the African-American children in the South attended a church or lodge-affiliated school constructed by volunteer labor and maintained by the local African American community.  By 1915, less than 40 percent of buildings used for the education of African American children were publicly owned in Georgia. 

These historic lodge buildings can be found throughout the state and are important for the role they played in African American life.  The Historic Preservation Division has identified some of these resources in surveys or in National Register-listed historic districts including those in Claxton, Vidalia, Waynesboro, Chickamauga, Eulonia, Rochelle, Lincolnton, Dalton, Jeffersonville, Atlanta, Carrollton, Sapelo Island, Alapaha, Douglasville, and Columbus."

Sometime soon, I am going to go out and check out this interesting building. 

Perhaps you know of others in your community? 


No comments:

Post a Comment