African Lodge 459
A Brief History of African Lodge 459
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.
Honorable Brother Yves R. Maignan, is the 71st Most Worshipful Grand Master for Massachusetts, and carries on the tradition started by Bro. Prince Hall over 200 years ago. Having already served two years from 2016-2018, he was re-elected on December 12, 2021.
The Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Massachusetts formally reopens its symbolic lodge, African Lodge No. 459, biennially during the odd year and fourth weekend in April. The ceremony will pay tribute to Prince Hall and the other very brave men who chose the route of Freemasonry to help their people and to have a legitimate vehicle by which to advance and enrich the lives of generations to follow. The participants will be dressed in period costumes from the 18th century. The officer’s stations in the lodge will be filled by currently seated Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Masters from among the 47 Prince Hall jurisdictions.
**SYMBOLIC REOPENING OF AFRICAN LODGE No. 459 FOR 2024**
The 11th Biennial Reopening African Lodge No. 459 festivities and reopening will take place beginning on April 25, 26, 27 through 28, 2024. For 2024 there will be an additional day of activities. These new activities will include a golf tournament and other outdoors activities, weather permitting. The theme of the 2024 reopening will be “Legends and Legacy.
The symbolic reopening is scheduled to take place Saturday April 27, 2024 with the reception of visiting Grand Masters together with their delegations. The reopening is expected to be magnificent as sitting Most Worshipful Grand Masters from various jurisdictions have been invited to participate as line officers in full colonial dress and regalia. They will represent each of the original Lodge Officers of African Lodge No. 459. This re-opening will feature a theatrical presentation of the birth of African Lodge 459 and her progeny.
There will be a “Sights and Sound” speaker series where well informed Brethren will make presentations at places of historical significance to African Lodge No. 459 and Prince Hall Masonry generally: Museum of African American History; Cambridge Commons, Copps Hill Burial Ground and Castle Island. The “Sights and Sound” speaker series proved to be informative and well received at our last re-opening. The 2024 reopening weekend will again include a Table Lodge gathering in addition to the usual theatrical play, historic tours, shopping and two evenings of fellowship, entertainment and dancing.
Registration fee is tentatively set at $165.00 not including the Table Lodge which will be an additional fee, tentatively set at $45.00. The registration fee will cover the Reenactment of the Opening of African Lodge No. 459, the theatrical play and evening entertainment only. The “Sights and Sounds” speaker series, will cost $45.00 per guest. The Saturday evening entertainment and dance function will be held at the William E. Reed Auditorium at the Masonic Temple beginning at 9 PM. The cost will be $40.00 per guest. The Deadline for registration will be April 10, 2024.
Lodging will be reserved at local area hotels. Room rates will be published once negotiated. Reservations are to be made under “African Lodge 459”. We are anticipating a large number of participants for the 2024 reopening weekend and are planning to secure two lodging locations. Information concerning the lodging locations will be published once the site are secured and rates are negotiated.
For the 2024 Reopening, registration and payment for the Reopening weekend will be available online beginning on or before December 31, 2023. Membership application will also be available for submission online at the African Lodge 459 website. The Website address is: www.africanlodge459.info. All information relative to the reopening, from registration fee to activities will be found at the website.
“Save the Date” and join the Mother Jurisdiction in celebrating our legends and legacy!
Only Prince Hall Masons in good standing will be allowed to register for this event with members of African Lodge No. 459, having preference, given space availability. If you are not a member of African Lodge No. 459 and would like to join, “Click on the link below”.
Contact Information: c/o RW Manuel Pires, Chairman (Email)
African Lodge 459
24 Washington Street
Dorchester, MA 02121