Historical marker dedication Saturday for Prince Hall Masons
7/15/2016, 10 a.m.
A state historical marker will be dedicated in Petersburg this weekend to commemorate the founding 140 years ago of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Virginia.
The public dedication ceremony will take place 1 p.m. Saturday, July 16, at the marker’s location in front of First Baptist Church, 236 Harrison St., the site where the African-American lodge was established Dec. 15, 1875.
Petersburg Mayor W. Howard Myers and Petersburg City Council member Brian Moore will be among the speakers at the ceremony.
Other speakers include David R. Coleman, a trustee of First Baptist Church; eight members of the Prince Hall Masons, Roger C. Brown, Paige D. Cherry, Herman Eggleston, Stevie R. Gray, Robert E. Harris Sr., Darrin L. Hill, Charles A. Jones Sr. and Julius D. Spain; and a representative of the Virginia Department of Historic Resources that authorized the marker.
According to their history, Prince Hall Masons — the largest African-American Masonic group in the nation — take their name from a Boston resident, Prince Hall, who founded the first African Masonic Lodge in that city during the American Revolution, and secured a charter for this new lodge in 1787 from the Grand Lodge of England.
With traditional Freemason groups declining to accept African-American members, the Prince Hall Masonic movement spread from Massachusetts into African-American communities in other states, including Virginia,
According to the marker, there were two rival Prince Hall grand lodges in Virginia, but members of both agreed to unite at the 1875 meeting at First Baptist “to form the present-day … Grand Lodge.”
As the marker notes, Prince Hall Masons style themselves as “Free and Accepted Masons,” in contrast to predominantly white Masonic groups that called themselves “Ancient Free and Accepted Masons.”
The Virginia Prince Hall Grand Lodge, now located at 906 N. Thompson St. in Richmond, paid for the marker.