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The Evolution of Prince Hall Masonry in Maryland 

RW James F. Wescott
Cheif Deputy Grand Historian

RW Michael A. O'neferu-Bey 

RW Berkley A. Savage
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Prince Hall Masons in Maryland trace their history to Massachusetts and to Prince Hall, who is believed to have been born in 1735, and died on December 4, 1807. On March 6, 1775, Prince Hall and fourteen others were initiated into a military Lodge at what is now Fort Independence, Massachusetts. On March 2, 1784, Prince Hall petitioned the Grand Lodge of England for a warrant or charter authorizing that a regular Lodge be constituted. It was issued on September 29, 1784, but not received until May 6, 1787, at which time African Lodge No. 459 was formed. On June 6, 1791, the lodge was erected into the African Grand Lodge of Massachusetts.

The First African Independent Grand Lodge of North America No. 1 of the State of Pennsylvania, whose own authority came directly from Prince Hall, warranted the first lodge of black Masons constituted in the state of Maryland on February 2, 1825. This lodge was styled as African Friendship Lodge of Baltimore No. 6. Thereafter the same authority warranted Saint James Lodge and Enterprise Lodge. In 1845, again with the able assistance of Pennsylvania, these three (3) subordinate lodges formed the First Colored Grand Lodge, A.F.&A.M. of the state of Maryland, with Rev. James A. Handy as Grand Master.

In 1847, following the establishment of the National Grand Lodge, another grand lodge was organized in Maryland pursuant to its authority and styled as Union Grand Lodge.

These two Grand Lodges remained in the field until 1876, when, being convinced that the object each Grand Master sought to accomplish would be better served by a union of the two, efforts to consolidate were made by the leading members of the two organizations.

On September 12, 1876, the two Grand Lodges merged. In 1878, the name was changed to The Most Worshipful United Grand Lodge of the State of Maryland. In 1947, the name of the Grand Lodge was again changed to The Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Maryland and its Jurisdictions, Inc., which name it still bears.

In 1960, Grand Master Willard W. Allen stepped down and Grand Master Samuel T. Daniels assumed the mantle of leadership. Later in that same year, the Grand Lodge moved to its present location at 1307 Eutaw Place at Lanvale Street and the Temple was duly named after Grand Master Allen. In 1998 Grand Master Daniels stepped down, at which time the Honorable Shelton D. Redden was elected Grand Master, which he served in that capacity for twelve years. In 2010, the Honorable Melvin M. Thorpe was elected Grand Master, he served for four years.

On Sunday, December 7, 2014, the Craft nominated and elected the Honorable Lee A Taylor as Most Worshipful Grand Master. Grand Master Taylor has the distinction of being the only sitting Grand Master in Maryland's history to have also served as Grand Worthy Patron. He comes into office with a great love of the principles of Freemasonry and vision to increase Prince Hall Freemasonry's community involvement and charitable contributions to the great citizens of Maryland.

Currently there are eighty-one (81) constituent lodges that constitute Maryland and its jurisdiction. Sixty-six (66) are within the state of Maryland, eight (8) are in Germany, five (5) are in England, four (4) are in Italy, one (1) is in Belgium, and one (1) in Kuwait. Maryland Prince Hall Lodges look back with pride to their Mother Lodge and to Prince Hall's life and leadership. They each regard themselves as descendants from the Grand Lodge of England, from which Prince Hall received his own authority more than two centuries ago.