History

Richmond Lodge No. 10 very likely has the most illustrious history of any Virginia Lodge. It is the oldest Lodge in Richmond and was the first Lodge chartered by the Grand Lodge of Virginia. The charter was granted on December 28, 1780 and Richmond Lodge No. 10 has been at continuous Labor since that date. The Lodge was originally identified as Richmond Lodge No. 13 and remained as such until 1786 when the Grand Lodge renumbered the Lodge chronologically and Richmond Lodge thus became No. 10, as it is today.

Most of the minutes of the Lodge are continuous except for two short periods (1787-1789 and 1800-1805). The lost minutes mysteriously departed the Lodge and only in the late 1960's was it learned that they were in a museum in Huntington Beach, California. Some of the minutes of that period for the City Council of the City of Richmond are also in this museum. Unfortunately, all that exists for the very first years are the minutes in scratch form.

It is interesting to note that Richmond Lodge No. 10 had its birth during the same period as that of our nation, amidst the throes of the Revolutionary War. There are many firsts in the history of Richmond Lodge. It was the first Masonic body in the United States to build a Masonic hall which today is still used for Masonic purposes and was the meeting place of the Grand Lodge of Virginia for almost a century after its construction. This was the first Lodge to suggest to the Grand Lodge the propriety of excluding Entered Apprentices from balloting (which was allowed in those days) thus inducing almost all Masons to continue with their degrees to become Master Masons. It suggested to the Grand Lodge the purchase of Mt. Vernon and to other city Lodges the establishment of a Masonic school, which did such good work in the trying period after the Civil War. It originated the root idea for the present Masonic Home and was the first Lodge in this Grand Jurisdiction to confer the Master Masons degree in robes believed to be similar to those worn by our ancient brethren on such occasions.

For many years this Lodge was host to the Grand Lodge Committee on Work just prior to the Grand Annual Communication. At that time, the Committee would confer the Master Masons Degree on a member of Richmond Lodge. The Ceremony was well received and widely attended by the Masonic Community.

Over the years, there have been many distinguished citizens listed on the roster of this Lodge. In the early years the most well known were Edmund Randolph and John Marshall, two of Virginias greatest sons. Also, there was a long list of Governors, lieutenant-Governors, Congressmen, State Senators, members of the House of Delegates, mayors, councilmen and many other city and state officers. This Lodge also furnished eight Grand Masters, two Deputy Grand Masters, seven Grand Treasurers, nine Grand Secretaries and four Grand Chaplains.

Richmond Lodge continued to meet in Masons Hall, which it constructed and paid for with great difficulty, until September 1878 when it moved to St. Albans Hall at the corner of Main and Third Streets. It remained there a relatively short time and moved to the Masonic Temple, Broad at Adams Street in June 1892 where it remained for seventy-six years. It appeared about the mid 1960's that the Grand Lodge would abandon the Masonic Temple and build a new home on the grounds of the Masonic Home of Virginia. At the same time members of Richmond Lodge No. 10 became anxious to once again have their own home and in 1967 bought property on Bethlehem Road in Henrico County to build a temple. After a search of several months for a partner, Richmond Lodge No. 10 was joined by St. Johns Lodge No. 36 to construct the Bethlehem Masonic Temple to which it moved in September 1969 and in which it meets today. A Past Master of Richmond Lodge drew the plans of this temple and much of the actual construction was supervised and done by members of both Lodges.

In a period when the ceremony of a cornerstone laying was looked upon with favor and respect, Richmond Lodge was frequently called upon for this service for many of the more outstanding structures in the Richmond area. The following is a sample:

Virginia State Capitol, August 18, 1785

Masons Hall, October 12, 1785

Virginia State Penitentiary, August 12, 1789

St. James Episcopal Church, April 2, 1838

Henrico Union Lodge, June 13, 1859

Broad Street Methodist Church, June 30, 1859

Addition to Richmond College, June 24, 1872

Old Retreat for the Sick Hospital, Sept. 6, 1882

Broaddus Memorial Baptist Church, August 4, 1901

Second Baptist Church, July 16, 1904

Chimborazo Public School, August 10, 1904

St. Stephens Episcopal Church, April 26, 1911

Westminister Presbyterian Church, September 21, 1911

Confederate Memorial Institute, May20, 1912

University of Richmond Administration Building, June 10, 1913

Westhampton Baptist Church, May 6, 1914

Second Police Station, June 30, 1916

Fifth District Federal Reserve Bank, April 13, 1920

Millhiser Gym, University of Richmond, June 7, 1921

Parish House, Church of the Holy Comforter, July

George Wythe Junior High School, July 22, 1922

Richmond Normal School, July 11, 1925

First Baptist Church, October 29, 1927

Richmond Public Library, June 22, 1929

Thomas Jefferson High School, September 14, 1929

Medical College of Virginia Clinic and Laboratory Building, December 1, 1936

Varina High School, November 5, 1938

State Library, February 22, 1940

Y.M.C.A., September 18, 1941

Forest Hill Presbyterian Church, October 5, 1946

Ironically, Richmond Lodge No. 10 was prevented from having the official Masonic cornerstone service for the Bethlehem Road Masonic Temple when it allowed construction to proceed beyond the point at which the ritualistic service could be permitted.

On a very rainy Sunday, August 18, 1985, members of Richmond Lodge No. 10 participated in a service commemorating the bicentennial of the laying of the cornerstone at the State Capitol. It is interesting to note that the original cornerstone cannot be found as many coats of stucco and subsequent construction have covered it. However, we know it is there and a plaque was placed at the northeast corner to so state this fact.

Over the years attendance has been excellent. Unfortunately, times have changed and, like most Lodges membership has declined and attendance is less robust. Sometimes the cornerstone of Freemasonry is like that at the State Capitol, hidden under many layers of apathy, but we know it is there and we will commemorate this as we continue to labor under the basic principle of "the Brotherhood of Man under the Fatherhood of God."