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Freemasonry in Old Town San Diego

Freemasonry in San Diego, indeed in all California, officially began shortly after the United States takeover of the California Territory resulting from the Mexican-American War (1846-1848). In San Diego, the actual inception of Freemasonry is lost to history. However, Orion Zink, Lodge Historian of San Diego Lodge #35, documented both the popular tale of its beginning as well as the formal steps taken to constitute San Diego’s first Masonic lodge. As Mr. Zink stated:

     Tradition has it that the formation of a Masonic lodge in San Diego was first suggested at a picnic, when it was discovered that several of those present were Masons. However, the first action to form a lodge was taken June 20, 1851. At a meeting held that evening at the Exchange Hotel, a petition for a dispensation was drawn up and forwarded to Grand Lodge. The petition was granted Aug. 1, 1851, and San Diego became the oldest lodge south of the Tehachapi…
     During the Lodge’s stay in Old Town, from 1851 until 1870, meetings were usually held in private homes…They also met in the little brick court house, and in the Railroad Block. They were in the latter place from 1866 to 1870.
     It has often been said that the history of San Diego Lodge is almost a history of San Diego itself. Due of course to the fact that so many of its members played such important parts in the City’s civic, industrial, cultural and spiritual growth.
     These were men of stature, all of whom left their mark, and aided in transforming San Diego from a sleepy Mexican pueblo to the thriving city we are privileged to live in today.

The documents contained herein were transcribed from the pages of the San Diego Herald and the San Diego Union and detail incidents and episodes from the early history of Freemasonry in San Diego.


Freemasonry in Old Town San Diego – Primary Sources

1852--06-28-SDH-masonic celebration
1855--01-06-SDH-the house of the lord has fallen
1855--07-07-SDHerald - Masonic celebration
1856--07-05-SDH-the 24th of June
1869--06-30-SDU-W - Masonic celebration
1869--07-07-SDU-oration
1869--12-30-SDU-W-p3-1-masonic installation
1890--05-04-SDU-San Diego Lodge No 35
1942--04-19-SDU-pB1-6 - Lodge has colorful history
1951--06-10-SDU - SD Masons Plan Birthplace Rites
1951--06-17-SDU-Masons Dedicate First Meeting Place


Researched, Transcribed and Scanned by
Sean K. T. Shiraishi, M.A.
Senior Park Aid, Old Town San Diego State Historic Park &
Historian, Unity Masonic Lodge #632, F. & A. M