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The Right Worshipful Grand Lodge of the Most Ancient and Honorable Fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons of Pennsylvania and Masonic Jurisdiction Thereunto Belonging is the premier masonic organization in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvaniamarker. It is one of the oldest Grand Lodges in the United Statesmarker, having been established on 26 September 1786 by delegates from the thirteen lodges holding warrants (or charters) from the Provincial Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, a provincial grand lodge of the Ancients' Grand Lodge of England.

History

The Rise and Fall of the Moderns

Two English grand lodges erected lodges in Pennsylvaniamarker during the 18th century, the Premier Grand Lodge of England (known as the Moderns), established in Londonmarker in 1717, and the Antient Grand Lodge of England, established in London in 1751. The first of these, the Moderns' Grand Lodge, was first to establish lodges and provincial grand lodges in the American colonies. But in Pennsylvania, by 1785, the Moderns and their lodges had ceased to exist. The present day Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania descends from the Ancient Grand Lodge of England.

The Tun Tavern Lodge

The earliest records of any Masonic lodge on the North American continent are the records for the Lodge at the Tun Tavern in Philadelphia, officially known as the St. John's No. 1 Lodge. The Tun Tavern was the first "brew house" in the city, being built in 1685, and was located on the waterfront at the corner of Water Street and Tun Alley. The extant records of the Lodge begin on 24 June 1731, but the lodge may have been older than that. It was reported by Benjamin Franklin, in his Gazette for 8 December 1730, that there were "several Lodges of Free Masons erected in this Province...." The Tun Tavern, being a popular meeting place in Philadelphia, was undoubtedly the first location of a lodge in Philadelphia. Other organizations were formed there, including the St. George's Society in 1720, and the St. Andrew's Society in 1747. Even the United States Marine Corps was founded there on 10 November 1775 by Samuel Nicholas, grandson of a member of the Tun Tavern Lodge. The Tun Tavern Lodge, which was never warranted or issued a charter, being an "immemorial rights lodge," died out about 1738 due to an anti-Masonic fever that swept the colony at that time.

The Moderns' Provincial Grand Master

The first official act of the Moderns' Grand Lodge regarding the American colonies was the creation of a Provincial Grand Master for New Yorkmarker, New Jerseymarker, and Pennsylvaniamarker, naming one Daniel Coxe, Esq., to that office. This deputation, issued on 5 June 1730, was made by the Grand Master, the Duke of Norfolk, and was to remain in effect for two years from 24 June 1731 to 24 June 1733, at which time, according to the deputation, the members were empowered to elect a Provincial Grand Master. Coxe, who had not yet left for the colonies, attended Grand Lodge in London on 29 January 1731 where he was toasted as the Provincial Grand Master "of North America." As expected, Coxe did not arrive in the colonies from London until the summer of 1731, locating in Burlington, New Jerseymarker, about 20 miles from Philadelphia, where he had been awarded a colonial judgeship.

Daniel Coxe

However, it does not appear that Daniel Coxe ever organized a Provincial Grand Lodge, nor to have erected any lodges, nor ever exercised his authority in any way as Provincial Grand Master prior to his death on 25 April 1739. In fact, his death which was reported in the Pennsylvania Gazette by Benjamin Franklin, a member of the Tun Tavern Lodge in Philadelphia, does not even mention that Coxe was a Freemason, indicating that Franklin and the other members of the Craft in Philadelphia were unaware of his affiliation.

Provincial Grand Masters at Boston

On 30 April 1733, Henry Price of Bostonmarker was appointed Provincial Grand Master "of New Englandmarker" by the Viscount Montagu, Grand Master of the Moderns' Grand Lodge in London. Clearly, this appointment would not have included Pennsylvania, except for Price's repeated, but disputed, claims that the Grand Master had "ordered him to extend Freemasonry over all North America." Price held this office until December 1736, when he was succeeded by Robert Tomlinson, also of Boston, who held the office until his death in 1740. Tomlinson was succeeded by Thomas Oxnard, who was deputized Provincial Grand Master "for North America" on 23 Sept. 1743. He remained in office until his death in 1754. Whether Price's office gave him jurisdiction over Pennsylvania Masonry has always been disputed, but the question became moot for a brief period with Oxnard's appointment over all of North America. Historians who argue in favor of Boston's primacy over Philadelphia also point to an appointment of Benjamin Franklin as Provincial Grand Master for Pennsylvania on 10 July 1749. However, Provincial Grand Masters had no authority to appoint other Provincial Grand Masters and Franklin's appointment was void. This was acknowledged by Franklin the following year when the Grand Master appointed William Allen Provincial Grand Master for Pennsylvania.

A Provincial Grand Lodge for Pennsylvania

On 13 March 1750, William Byron, 5th Baron Byron, Grand Master of the Moderns' Grand Lodge at London, deputized William Allen Provincial Grand Master for Pennsylvania, and he erected the first Provincial Grand Lodge in Pennsylvania. By 1755, new lodges had been formed, and a Masonic Hall erected.

The Demise of the Moderns in Pennsylvania

The Freemasonry of the Moderns Grand Lodge and its daughter lodges in Pennsylvania was eclipsed during the latter half of the 18th century by the rise of the Ancients Grand Lodge and its lodges. The American Revolutionary War took a great toll on Pennsylvania Freemasonry, and especially the Moderns' lodges. By the end of the Revolution nearly all the lodges in Pennsylvania were of the Ancients strain. It is impossible to determine precisely when the Moderns' Provincial Grand Lodge finally demised, but it was gone by 1785. The Masonic Hall, built by the Moderns in 1755 was sold, and the proceeds were placed in a charitable trust and became the "Freemason's Fuel Fund."

The Rise of the Ancients

The Ancient Provincial Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania: On 15 July 1761, the Ancient Grand Lodge of England issued a warrant for a Provincial Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, which appeared as Lodge No. 89 on the Grand Lodge roster. Three years before, the Ancient Grand Lodge had issued a warrant for Lodge No. 69 to a lodge in Philadelphia (later Lodge No. 2 of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania), which had been the first warrant issued to a lodge in North America by that Grand Lodge.

The Grand Lodge is Formed

By 1785, Pennsylvania Freemasonry was entirely Ancient, the Moderns having become extinct in that state. On 25 September 1786, the Ancient Provincial Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania declared itself to be independent of the mother Grand Lodge and closed itself permanently. The following day, 26 September, the representatives of 13 Ancient lodges met together and formed the present Grand Lodge, headquartered in Philadelphiamarker. As a result, the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania is entirely of the Ancients' tradition, and is not an amalgam, or a union, of the two traditions. Its sole "ancestor" Grand Lodge is that of the Ancients Grand Lodge of England, founded in 1751, and does not descend from the Moderns Grand Lodge of 1717. Since its inception, the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania has moved its headquarters from building to building over the last two centuries, and on one occasion even conducted their meetings in Independence Hallmarker.

Today

The corner stone
The Pennsylvania Grand Lodge Temple is the center of Freemasonry in Pennsylvaniamarker. It takes in thousands of visitors every year who visit the ornate structure including its seven beautiful lodge rooms, where even today a number of Philadelphia lodges and the Grand Lodge conduct their meetings. The massive granite cornerstone, weighing ten tons, was leveled on St. John the Baptist's Day, 24 June 1868. The ceremonial gavel used on that day by Grand Master Richard Vaux was same gavel used by President George Washington in leveling the cornerstone of the nation's Capitol building in 1793. The Grand Lodge Temple was completed in 1873. The bold and elaborate elevations of Norman architecture on Broad and Filbert Streets, especially the beautiful Norman portico of Quincy granite, make it one of the great architectural wonders of the City of Philadelphia. The exterior stone of the building on Broad and Filbert Streets was constructed of Cape Ann Syenite from Syne in Upper Egypt.

The Grand Lodge Temple is located at One North Broad Street, directly across from Philadelphia City Hallmarker and only two blocks away from the Reading Terminal Marketmarker.

The current Grand Master is Stephen Gardner.Image:Loggia-01.jpgImage:Loggia-02.jpgImage:Loggia-03.jpgImage:Loggia-04.jpgImage:Loggia-05.jpgImage:Loggia-06.jpgImage:Loggia-07.jpgImage:Loggia-08.jpg

References

  1. Coil, Henry W. (1961). Article "Pennsylvania," pp. 468. Coil's Masonic Encyclopedia (rev. ed. 1996). Richmond, Va: Macoy Publ. Co.
  2. Coil, Henry W. (1961). Article "America, Introduction of Freemasonry into," pp. 31-33. Coil's Masonic Encyclopedia (rev. ed. 1996). Richmond, Va: Macoy Publ. Co.
  3. Coil, Henry W. (1961). Article "America, Introduction of Freemasonry into," pp. 30-31. Coil's Masonic Encyclopedia (rev. ed. 1996). Richmond, Va: Macoy Publ. Co.
  4. Coil, Henry W. (1961). Article "Coxe, Daniel," pg. 156. Coil's Masonic Encyclopedia (rev. ed. 1996). Richmond, Va: Macoy Publ. Co.
  5. Coil, Henry W. (1961). Articles "Price, Henry," pg. 486, "Massachusetts," pg. 411, "Oxnard, Thomas," pg. 459, and "Pennsylvania," pg. 468. Coil's Masonic Encyclopedia (rev. ed. 1996). Richmond, Va: Macoy Publ. Co.
  6. Coil, Henry W. (1961). Article "Pennsylvania," pp. 468. Coil's Masonic Encyclopedia (rev. ed. 1996). Richmond, Va: Macoy Publ. Co.
  7. Coil, Henry W. (1961). Article "Pennsylvania," pp. 468. Coil's Masonic Encyclopedia (rev. ed. 1996). Richmond, Va: Macoy Publ. Co.
  8. Coil, Henry W. (1961). Article "Pennsylvania," pp. 468. Coil's Masonic Encyclopedia (rev. ed. 1996). Richmond, Va: Macoy Publ. Co.
  9. Masonic Temple: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Publ. by the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania.


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