A Time of Rebirth
Grand Master Jeffery M. Wilkins on how Freemasonry connects to life, death, and the cycle of renewal.
By Justin Japitana
After 171 years, the desire for a facelift is understandable. The same is true of the historic 1850 Benicia Masonic Hall, the very first lodge hall built in California.
So in 2021, the building, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, underwent extensive renovations. That included installing new windows and light fixtures, upgrading bathrooms and kitchen space, and applying a fresh coat of paint and new carpeting to the 50-person lodge room. In addition, the hall includes a small reception area and a museum and library on the first floor.
The hall was originally home to Benicia № 5. But in 1888, the lodge outgrew the building and moved next door to 106 West J St. From then until 1950, the historic site was used as a union hall and, during World War I, as a rooming house. The Grand Lodge of California, which had purchased it years earlier, took over the hall in 2014, and it has since been available for rent for special degrees and other events. Today the hall is home to two new lodges, Benicia № 877 and Carquinez № 858. And unlike their predecessors, they say they don’t mind the lack of elbow room.
“For us as a newly chartered, small lodge, Benicia Hall fosters a sense of intimacy and history,” says Vance Langford, secretary of Benicia № 877. He says the blend of 19th-century ambiance and modern touches—like dimmable LED lights—makes the hall a perfect space for “magical and memorable” monthly festive boards.
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The California Masonic Symposium returns to explore Masonry’s spiritual roots.
Thanks to lodge volunteers, Masonic Outreach Services can be everywhere to provide support to those in need.