Brown Lodge No. 22
Yes, this building can be restored and is being restored! The structure is a good example of “demolition by neglect.” Very little attention has been given the building since it was vacated in the 1950s.
Brown Lodge No. 22 of the Ancient Free and Accepted Masons was the first Black Lodge to be established in Arrow Rock, maybe as early as 1877. We do know they purchased the land on which the lodge was built on March 2, 1881. The Ancient and Accepted Masons of the United States trace their origins to an eighteenth century free black man named Prince Hall who established the first all-black Masonic Lodge in America in Boston, Massachusetts, in the mid-1780s.
In Arrow Rock there were at least four black lodges and three lodge halls (one never owned a building but rented space from another lodge). Brown’s Lodge is the lone remaining hall. Lodges provided social functions for their members, but more importantly they provided a network of caring and financial support in the days before insurance and social welfare. Lodges sponsored women’s auxiliaries and juvenile groups, also. The Great Depression forced the closure of this lodge.
This site has also been the location of a summer archaeological field school beginning in 1996. Not only are archaeologists gathering valuable information about African American life, they are also discovering much about a pre-Civil War pottery business that was located on this block. Tim Baumann, Professor of Archaeology, UMSL, has been the supervising archaeologist.
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