Our Latest Project: King Solomon's Lodge #1
The exterior of the building has not had a thorough restoration in many years. The cupola must be rebuilt, the siding restored, and many architectural and structural elements need attention.
The project is out for bid at this time, though estimates are currently at $250,000 to complete the project.
So far, the leadership at King Solomon's Lodge #1 and the New Bern Preservation Foundation as a team have applied to fifteen foundations and funds for resources, and have secured more than $75,000 in restoration funds toward the project.
We will keep you updated on progress through this web site and on Instagram and Facebook.
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King Solomon’s Lodge #1 and the New Bern Preservation Foundation are partnering to do a historic restoration on the lodge meeting place originally known as Drayton’s Hall. The Foundation is working with Lodge members to apply for grants and raise funds for a restoration of this important historic building.
The initial phase of the project will deal with exterior stabilization and restoration. This includes roof repair, siding repair, reconstruction of window frames and sashes, and removal of the cinder block sheathing around the brick foundation. The immediate primary task is to repair the cupola on top of the building, which is currently leaking when it rains.
A fire in 2005 caused extensive smoke and water damage to the structure. The structure was not flooded during Hurricane Florence, but the storm certainly highlighted the urgent need to do external repairs to keep out wind and rain.
Formed in 1865, King Solomon’s Lodge is the first African-American Masonic lodge in North Carolina and one of the first south of the Mason-Dixon Line. The current building, originally known as Drayton’s Hall, was completed in 1870. It has been continuously used as a Masonic lodge and meeting hall since it was built, and it is one of the very few structures north of Queen Street to survive the great fire of 1922.
Frederick Smith, Worshipful Master of King Solomon Lodge, has kept everyone focused on the significance of this effort. “King Solomon #1 is an icon of the history of the Colonial Capital of North Carolina,” said Smith. “The sole purpose of this important structure is to house the membership of a Master Mason Lodge, a Chapter of The Eastern Star as well as their young men, The Kop and the young ladies, the Gleaners. The vision of making good men and women better as well as cultivating young minds for the future is of the utmost importance.” The New Bern Preservation Foundation is providing its experience in preservation to support this initiative.
“This is a vitally important historic structure not only to New Bern but to the entire state. Its architecture is important along with its historic and cultural significance.” said Tim Thompson, current President of the New Bern Preservation Foundation. “This is one of the few buildings in New Bern that we know was built by African American craftsmen and used by the African American community leaders who became state legislators and U. S. Congressmen.”
Illustrious black freemasons include Thurgood Marshall, W.E.B. Du Bois, Booker T. Washington, Martin Luther King, Nat King Cole, Duke Ellington, Jesse Jackson, and Nelson Mandela, to name a few.
Prince Hall, Eighteenth Century Freeman and Mason
On March 6, 1775, mere days before the “shot heard ’round the world” in Massachusetts, Prince Hall led a group of fifteen black freemen to membership in Lodge No. 441 of the Grand Lodge of Ireland, which had a military Lodge in Boston. They had made several previous attempts at admission in Masonic Lodges in Massachusetts, to no avail. With revolution imminent, turning to the Irish Lodge was a courageous act. Only weeks later, many would enlist in the Continental Army and took up arms against the British.
After the war Prince Hall made several attempts to win a charter for an African American Lodge from chartered Lodges in our new nation, but again he was forced to turn elsewhere. On March 2, 1784, just six months after the end of the Revolution, Prince Hall applied to the Grand Master in London. He won the first African American Lodge charter from Prince Henry, Duke of Cumberland, Grand Master in London and a member of the extended royal family―a Mason who apparently did not hold a grudge.
On March 6, 1775, mere days before the “shot heard ’round the world” in Massachusetts, all fifteen men were admitted to Lodge No. 441 of the Grand Lodge of Ireland, which had a military Lodge in Boston. With revolution imminent, this was a courageous act. Only weeks later they enlisted in the Continental Army and took up arms against the British.
After the war Prince Hall made several attempts to win a charter from Lodges in our new nation, but again needed to turn elsewhere. On March 2, 1784, just six months after the end of the Revolution, Prince Hall applied to the Grand Master in London. He won the first African American Lodge charter from Prince Henry, Duke of Cumberland,3 Grand Master in London and a member of the extended royal family―a Mason who apparently did not hold a grudge.
A century later, our King Solomon’s Lodge #1 was formed here in New Bern, authorized by the Grand Lodge of New York immediately after the Civil War. Our New Bern King Solomon’s Lodge was in the first group authorized and was the first in North Carolina. The four bay wood-frame building we now see on upper Metcalf Street was completed five years later. Before you call or write, we do know that the city lists the current address as Howard Street, but in reality that portion of the street north and west of Queen Street is part of Metcalf Street.
A lot of TLC is needed
Photo by Larry Rosenstrauch
Photo by Larry Rosenstrauch