Tag Archives: Georgia Fraternal Lodges

Odd Fellows Hall, Augusta

This late Victorian storefront was home to the International Order of Odd Fellows and is one of several surviving 19th century commercial buildings on 8th Street.

Broad Street Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

Cherokee Lodge, 1877, Rome

One of the most impressive public structures in Rome, the old Cherokee Masonic Lodge No. 66 was built to replace a lodge burned by Union soldiers during the Civil War. It served the fraternal organization until 2006.

Between the Rivers Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

Lawrenceville Female Seminary, 1855

A young ladies’ finishing school known as the Lawrenceville Female Seminary was established here in 1838. One of the trustees, Daniel Killian, was responsible for its construction. That structure, apparently very similar to this one, was destroyed by fire and was replaced by the present structure in 1855. It served as a seminary until 1886. In its nomination to the National Register of Historic Places, it was described as simple, rather masculine, late-Federal early-Greek Revival. It is the most significant early public structure surviving in Lawrenceville.

The Lawrenceville Masonic Lodge No. 181 began using the second floor in 1860 and made it their home until the 1970s. Over the years the lower floor was occupied by various tenants and was also used as a public gathering place. It serves as the Gwinnett History Museum today.

National Register of Historic Places

Clayton County Courthouse, 1869, Jonesboro

This structure replaced the original Clayton County Courthouse, built on this site in 1860 and burned during the Battle of Jonesboro. It was decommissioned in 1898 and has served as the Jonesboro Lodge No. 87 F & AM ever since.

Jonesboro Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

Lithonia Lodge No. 84, F & AM, 1916, DeKalb County

The cornerstone notes that the Lithonia Lodge was chartered on 14 October 1849. Like many Masonic lodges, this structure likely also housed businesses on the first floor.

Lithonia Historic District, National Register of Historic Places & Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area

Lone Star Benevolent Society, 1898, Waynesboro

The property of the Lone Star Benevolent Society in Waynesboro is a bit of a mystery. Previous surveys have identified the large structure (above) as the society hall, but it certainly resembles a church. It’s possible it served both purposes. Lone Star was one of many fraternal organizations aimed at creating a sense of community and a source of burial insurance for black communities from Emancipation well into the early 20th century.

This small building is located beside the larger church-like structure.

Further away from the main building is this structure, which was almost certainly a schoolhouse.

St. Paul Meetinghouse, 1870s, Hancock County

Harrell Lawson’s History of St. Pau CME Church [2005] describes the two-story meetinghouse adjacent to the church as a building previously used as a school for the secular education of the youth of the community and as a meeting place for Masons and a burial society founded by St. Paul members in the early 1900’s.

A resource survey conducted in 2001 dates the structure to circa 1870. It was built in the school/lodge combination common among African-American congregations in this part of Georgia in the late 19th century. These structures inevitably served as de facto community centers, as well. No matter when they were built, they are important resources.

Maxeys Landmark Lost to Fire

This historic general store and Masonic Lodge in Maxeys was lost to a tragic fire on 16 January 2021. [Thanks to Jennifer W. Newton for sharing the unfortunate news on the Vanishing Georgia Facebook group. My condolences go to the family who lost their loved one in this tragedy]. It was owned by the Vernor family for many years. It was most recently home to Maxeys Country Store and had been converted to dual use as a residence. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Sally Giles wrote: I have many good memories of going into Mr. Vernor’s store in the 70s and 80s and trying on what my mom called “train suits” that looked like they were from the 60s. These were very sensible skirts with matching jackets that you would wear on the train, or later on the bus. Mr. Vernor had ladies gloves that you would have worn to church that were lain perfectly crossed over each in the long glass cabinet just waiting for glove wearing to come back into style. He told me that his wife would order the ladies things, and that he had not bought anything new for the cases since she had passed. Mr Vernor always wore a black suit no matter how hot it was, and the store had no air conditioning. His shirt was a starchy white, buttoned up all the way with no tie. I can remember feeling hotter than I should have just looking at Mr. Vernor in his black suit. Over time there was not much that was really for sale that anyone wanted except myself buying the old clothes, but there were co-colas (all beverages were called co-colas) and crackers that looked kinda old for sale on the rack. I have other memories that I could tell, but won’t.

Farmers Supply Company & Akin Lodge No. 537, 1910, Taylorsville

Typical of many commercial blocks built in late-19th- and early-20th-century Georgia, this structure served a dual purpose as a general store and Masonic lodge.

Masonic Lodge, 1918, Midville

Midville Lodge 521 has served as the home to the local Masons for over a century. It is also used as the city hall.