Oldest Masonic Lodge West Of The Blue Ridge Mountains

The Brethren of Winchester Hiram No.21 Masonic Lodge would like to welcome you to our Cyber Blue Lodge.   We were established on October 1, 1768, by the Provincial Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania which granted a charter to a number of Masons living in or near Winchester, Virginia in order to form a Blue Lodge, which was known as Winchester Lodge No. 12. This was the first Masonic Lodge established west of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and the first in Virginia to be designated by a number. The charter named three members, who were to be the Station Officers of the Lodge, but at the first meeting there were four members present. By the outbreak of the Revolutionary War, the Lodge had 21 members.  The lodge is full of history dating before the beginnings of the our country (1768).  We are located in the wonderful Shenandoah Valley which is also rich with history to include the Revolutionary and Civil Wars


To the right of this website you can see our distinctive features of the Lodge which are the frescoes on the walls and ceiling of our Lodge room which was painted in 1868. The work was done by a Mr. Ango from the Peabody Institute of Baltimore. As far as we know, Mr. Ango was not a Mason. The images could have been taken from a Masonic Monitor of that time or from other sources. Even if the frescoes are not the result of an original talent, the artist is due full credit for reproducing the images in soft, natural colors and using unusually fine perspective. The frescoes on the east and west walls give the illusion of additional rooms, rather than the flat surfaces, which they really are. The molding around the frescoes, which may not have been the work of Mr. Ango, appears to be a solid molding attached to the walls. The colors are as bright today as when they were first applied, although they are over 137 years old and have never been retouched.


George Washington was well known to the Winchester area. He had come to the Winchester area as a boy of 16 in 1748, and he was intimately associated with the area for the next ten years, five of them as a surveyor for Lord Fairfax, and five as a soldier, holding a commission from the Colony of Virginia. In addition, he represented Frederick County in Virginia's representative assembly, the House of Burgesses, for seven years. He owned an "in-lot" and an "out-lot" in Winchester. The in-lot was on the east side of Braddock Street just north of the present Post Office. He undoubtedly knew many of the early members of Winchester Lodge.


In April 1863, the Lodge secured permission to open, and 23 members of the army were made Master Masons and two were made Fellowcraft.  Between this date and June 24, 1865, the Lodge raised 231 Candidates, 207 of them from the occupying army. One of these, Captain William McKinley (1843-1901), later became President of the United States in 1897. As the army was using the Market House, these meetings were held at 172 North Loudoun Street. The building was razed several years ago and the land converted into a parking lot by the Commercial and Savings Bank.   On May 20, 1899, Brother McKinley visited Winchester Hiram Lodge. He climbed the steps to the Lodge Room, and, although Lodge was not opened, he greeted all who came to meet him and signed the Lodge's guest book.





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