Scottish Rite of Freemasonry

Supreme Council, 33° Northern Masonic Jurisdiction — USA

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2013

Move of Supreme Council offices to the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library

Supreme council completes the sale of its former headquarters and moves its operations to the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library.

2012

2012 – Hurricane Sandy relief provided from the Almoner’s Fund

Current Sovereign Grand Commander John William McNaughton recently called attention to the fraternity’s need for change. Members are encouraged to take inspiration from the lessons taught by the Scottish Rite degrees, as well as from each other. The fraternity has renewed its focus on its members and worked to strengthen its Almoner’s Fund. The Fund extends a helping hand to brothers and their families when they encounter unexpected or insurmountable obstacles, such as natural disasters.

Ill. David A. Glattly Assisting a Masonic Brother, 2012, Steven R. Pekock, New Jersey. Courtesy of The Northern Light.

1993

1993 – First Childrens’ Learning Center opens

The first Childrens’ Learning Center opened in Newton, Massachusetts, in 1993 to help children overcome dyslexia. Open to all, at no cost to the participants, the Centers use the Orton-Gillingham method as the tutoring tool.

Interior of a dyslexia center. Photograph, Children’s Dyslexia Centers.

1975

1975 – Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library opens

In 1968, the Supreme Council offices moved from downtown Boston to Lexington, Massachusetts. The new location allowed space for a house for the Sovereign Grand Commander and to construct the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library. On April 20, 1975, the Museum & Library was dedicated with a ceremony.

Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, 2009, Lexington, Massachusetts. Photograph by David Bohl.

1945

1945 – First Gourgas medal awarded to Harry Truman

The most distinguished honor conferred by the Supreme Council is the Gourgas medal. It was named in honor of John James Joseph Gourgas, who served as Sovereign Grand Commander from 1832 to 1851. President Harry S. Truman (1884-1972) received the first Gourgas medal in 1945. Truman became a Freemason when he joined Belton Lodge No. 450 in Grandview, Missouri, in 1909. In 1940, he was elected as Grand Master of Missouri, shortly before being elected as a United States Senator.

Harry S. Truman, 1980-1990, Unidentified maker, United States. Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library purchase, A96/066/0915.

1927

1927 – Supreme Council Office moves to Statler Building in Boston

In 1927, the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction moved its administrative offices from New York City to Boston. This brought the offices to the same location as the organization’s archives, which had always been stored in Boston. From 1927 until 1968, the Supreme Council located its offices in the Statler Building, now the Boston Park Plaza Hotel.

Statler Building, Boston, Massachusetts, ca.1930. Postcard, Tichnor Bros., publisher, Cambridge, Massachusetts. , Museum purchase. Collection of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library. A2012/37/1.

1913

1913 – 100th Anniversary of the NMJ/1917 – 50th Anniversary of the Union of 1867

Jurisdiction members celebrated their success by commemorating the Jurisdiction’s centennial in 1913 and the 50th anniversary of the Union of 1867 in 1917. The 100th anniversary was marked at the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction’s annual meeting in Philadelphia, with a reception and a speaker, Grand Secretary-General James H. Codding, an attorney and former Congressman. The 1917 celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the Union of 1867 took place at the annual meeting that year, held at New York’s Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in September. The event was intertwined with expressions of American patriotism, in light of American entrance into World War I the previous April.

1884

1884 – Chicago’s Oriental Consistory moves to a new theater space

After the Union of 1867, the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction entered an era of growth and prosperity. Membership grew from 4,100 in 1867 to 15,250 by 1890. During the late 1800s and early 1900s, members crafted new theatrical rituals. These required large casts, props, stage sets and costumes. Instead of initiating a few men at a time, these staged degrees could be viewed by hundreds of men at once. These new ritual productions, as well as the sharp increase in membership, pushed local Scottish Rite leaders throughout the Jurisdiction to find new buildings that would accommodate them. Chicago’s Masonic Temple, which was home to the city’s Scottish Rite Valley, fell victim to the Great Fire of 1871. To continue their work in the years that followed, the Valley leased the upper stories of the new American Express Building.

First Chicago Masonic Stage, 1884. [1996 reprint], Karl E. Bethke, printer, Chicago, Illinois. Gift of John D. Hamilton. Collection of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, 98.023. Photograph by David Bohl.

1867

1867 – Union

After seven years of conflict, the schism that began in 1860 when Edward Asa Raymond was forced out of the office of Sovereign Grand Commander ended in 1867. The two separate Supreme Councils merged and members elected a new leader – Josiah H. Drummond (1827-1879).

Treaty of the Union, Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite, Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, 1867. Signed by Josiah H. Drummond and Daniel Sickels, Boston, Massachusetts. Collection of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, SC 001.015. Photograph by David Bohl.

1860

1860 – Schism in the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction

In 1851, Edward Asa Raymond (1791-1864) became Sovereign Grand Commander. His term ended in turmoil in 1860. In May 1860, at a Supreme Council meeting, a group of members led by Killian Van Rensselaer (1800-1881) seized control, installed themselves into office and proceeded to make significant changes to the Scottish Rite regulations. Raymond formed a competing Supreme Council and the two warring councils met separately over the next several years.

Edward Asa Raymond. ca. 1900, Unidentified Maker, Boston. Collection of the Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts at the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, GL2004.4831. [ALTERNATE CHOICE IS RAYMOND’S MARK MEDAL]

1851

1851 – J.J.J. Gourgas (1777-1865) resigns as Sovereign Grand Commander

Due to the rise of the anti-Masonic movement in America, the public activity of the new Supreme Council was short-lived. Freemasonry became unpopular during the 1830s and the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, which counted a relatively small membership at the time, kept a low profile. John James Joseph Gourgas (1777-1865), who became Sovereign Grand Commander in 1832, led the group through these dark years by maintaining the Jurisdiction’s records and rituals. In 1843, as anti-Masonic fervor decreased, Gourgas and Giles Fonda Yates (1798-1859), resumed the activities of the Supreme Council. In 1851, Gourgas resigned as Sovereign Grand Commander.

John James Joseph Gourgas. 1842-1870, Francis D’Avignon, New York, New York. Collection of the Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts at the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, GL2004.0475. Photograph by David Bohl. [ALTERNATE CHOICE IS A SHOT OF MINUTE BOOK BY GOURGAS]

1813

1813 – The Northern Masonic Jurisdiction is created

By 1813, Freemasons noted that the higher degrees of their organization were in disarray. Several prominent Masons, empowered with limited authority over various degrees, established Supreme Councils in New York. The Charleston, SC, Supreme Council, which had formed in 1801, sent its Treasurer General, Emanuel De La Motta (1760-1821), to examine each group’s founding documents and determine which one should be recognized. On August 5, 1813, De La Motta issued a proclamation and charter granting sovereignty to the group headed by Antoine Bideaud (dates unknown). It became known as the Supreme Council, 33°, for the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction (NMJ) of the United States of America. Today, the NMJ includes fifteen states in New England, the Mid-Atlantic and the Mid-West.

Charter/Warrant for the Northern District of the United States of America. 1813, Issued by Emanuel De La Motta, New York, New York. Collection of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, SC 001.018, Photograph by David Bohl.

1767

1767 – Henry Francken (ca. 1720-1795) charters Ineffable Lodge of Perfection in Albany

Henry Francken (ca. 1720-1795), a Dutch merchant, became a Deputy Inspector General between 1763 and 1767. Francken traveled to Albany, NY, and chartered the Ineffable Lodge of Perfection there on October 7, 1767. That group met until 1774. Francken is best remembered for his creation of the “Francken manuscript,” a transcription of the earliest surviving English-language version of the Scottish Rite degrees (4-25).

Constitution and Patent for the Ineffable and Sublime Grand Lodge of Perfection, Albany, New York. 1767, Issued by Henry Andrew Francken, Albany, New York. Loan from the Valley of Albany New York to Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, EL81.002.1, Photograph by David Bohl.

1761

1761 – Patent given to Etienne Morin (1717-1771)

Founders launched the Scottish Rite, known as Ecossais Masonry, in France during the mid-1700s. On August 27, 1761, Etienne Morin (1717-1771) received a patent in Paris authorizing him to establish the Rite “in all the four parts of the world.” Soon after, Morin left France and traveled to San Domingo (now the Dominican Republic). In the West Indies, between 1763 and 1767, Morin authorized Henry Francken (ca. 1720-1795) to confer the degrees of the Scottish Rite.

Morin Patent (manuscript copy). ca. 1768, Paris, France. Collection of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, SC 001.004. Photograph by David Bohl.