Most Worshipful Grand Lodge, Free and Accepted Masons – 2213 E. First Street

2213 E. First Street, Most Worshipful Grand Lodge, Free and Accepted Masons, 1924. This remarkable building was the largest African-American fraternal hall in the United States when it was built in 1924 from plans by African-American architect H.L. Spicer. The structure was, in plan, a Greek cross with the main meeting hall at the crossing. With the use of a secondary hall in one of the wings, the structure could seat 3,000 people. The remaining wings contained lodging, office, and meeting space. The central hall, with its high ceiling of ornate pressed tin, once held a series of paintings of Lodge presidents, including William Coleman and William Madison McDonald. During the heyday of the Lodge many great musicians played here including Duke Ellington and Count Basie. The building, situated on a large wooded lot near the Trinity River, narrowly missed demolition when the nearby freeway interchange was constructed. Use of the building declined as the membership of the Lodge aged, and in later years was used only for large annual general assemblies. Burdened by practical considerations and maintenance needs, the Masons voted in 1985 to sell the structure and build a new mosque. The building was demolished on June 19, 1986 by its new owner. The land is still vacant. Had it remained, the building would have been eligible for the National Register for its role in African-American history and its architectural distinction.

Leave a Comment