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African-American Masonry in Fort Worth extends to 1889

Posted Feb. 11, 2016

regal woman in formal dress looks down

In honor of Black History Month, each week in February Fort Worth Flashback will take a look at the role of African-American residents and institutions in our city’s history.

This photo by Peter Freesten shows the 1983 installation ceremony of the Most Worshipful Grand Matron of the Heroines of Jericho at Prince Hall Masonic Mosque.

Fort Worth has had an African-American Masonic lodge since at least 1889. Prince Hall (1735-1807) founded the African-American branch of Masonry in Boston in 1784.

By 1907 Fort Worth had four African-American local lodges with a total membership of 200. That same year, Fort Worth’s Prince Hall lodge members laid the cornerstone for a new lodge hall at Ninth and Jones streets, where the Intermodal Transportation Center is today. The new hall also was the statewide fraternal organization’s grand lodge hall and hosted state conventions.

In 1924, the local lodge built a new grand lodge on East First Street. The building was said to be the “largest building of its kind in the United States … belonging to Negroes.” It could accommodate 3,000 delegates at state conventions. Count Basie and Duke Ellington performed there.

The East First Street location was torn down in 1986, replaced by a new hall on Martin Luther King Freeway.

The Fort Worth Library has approximately 10,000 items pertaining to the history of Fort Worth and Tarrant County. These items include city and county government documents, newspapers, directories, cemetery association records, maps as well as popular and scholarly books written by local authors or about local subjects. To learn more, call 817-392-7740 or email the Genealogy, History and Archives Section.

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