The Masonic Lodge # 72, located at 211 Morton Street in Historic Downtown Richmond is the only historic building on this main street which is still being used as originally built.
“In 1913, 99 years ago this building was built to be the Masonic Lodge and we are still here today,” said Jim Starks, secretary, Masonic Lodge #72.
The building, which was named after Mason William Morton, does not have a frame, instead it utilizes Cypress wood to hold up the second floor, and the exterior is all brick. Also, the building is a Recorded Texas Historical Landmark.
History buffs might just want to take a drive to Morton Street and see the mural, “At the Bend of the Brazos,” painted on the east side of the building. The mural was painted by Adam Miller and completed in January 2005, and depicts several historical scenes and artifacts of Richmond. Staring on the right hand side is the Gillespie Monument built by William Morton in memory of Robert Gillespie a Masonic brother from another land. Above and to the left is the Fort on the Bend from which Fort Bend County takes its name. On the left side of the mural is the Morton Ferry, which some say is the reason Richmond is located where it is. The ferry was also used by Santa Anna while pursuing Sam Houston and the Texas Army. The stanchions of the ferry are still in the Brazos River, located a few hundred yards north of the Lodge.
When the Masonic Lodge first opened, the street looked very different than it does today. For example, across the street was the Saloon and Saddle Shop, grocery store, and a pharmacy.
Originally, the building only consisted of a second floor. Members and guests walked in the door, up a flight of stairs to the main room of the lodge.
“The area downstairs was a retail space, and up until 1998 it was an auto parts store. Since, the Masons have claimed the space, which was spearheaded by Lou Payton, which the building is now named, the downstairs area serves as a meeting space for dinner and programs as well as providing the community with a small banquet and meeting room which sits 115 people,” Starks said.
The Masonic Lodge in Richmond is a Freemasonry, which is the oldest and largest world-wide fraternity dedicated to the Brotherhood of Man, under the Fatherhood of a Supreme Being. Although of a religious nature, Freemasonry is not a religion. It urges its members, however, to be faithful and devoted to their own religious beliefs. The origins of Freemasonry can be traced back to the stonemason’s guilds of antiquity. The earliest Masonic writing is the Regius Poem from 1392.
According to Starks, the First Grand Lodge in America was opened in Boston in 1732 and was opened to men over 18, who believed in God and were of good reputation, which continues today.
“As Masons, we are not allowed to invite men to join, they have to ask to join of their own free will, which this is something many people do not know,” Starks said.
Meetings are held once a month, on the second Tuesday with dinner being served at 6:30 p.m. and the meeting begins at 7:15 p.m. The meeting agenda follows a regular business meeting as the 145 members come together to, often to make plans to support the community.
“Men do cook, and for dinner our members are in the kitchen. However one of our members, Alex Ciocca, chef at the Italian Maid across the street, is usually cooking, which we are very happy about,” Starks said.
The Masons host an annual golf tournament in April, which is their fundraiser to raise funds for educational scholarships, which are usually upwards of $500 per student. This year though, the Grand Lodge will match Scholarships, for the students selected.
“This means if we provide $1,000 scholarship, the student will receive $2,000,” Starks said.
The Masons also adopt a family each year for Christmas and provide toys and cash to the selected family.
“Our members are a very close nit group of men, and all are good friends. We are here for each other, and if someone has a need, family member sick, we are there to help,” Starks said.
The Richmond Masons include a number of well-known local men, and through the years many famous people have been Masons as well, such as Stephen F. Austin, Sam Houston, Benjamin Franklin, Paul Revere, John Wayne, Winston Churchill, and many others.
For more information, please visit www.mortonlodge72.org.