Preserving and sharing our Masonic heritage
Procession of California Grand Lodge officers (c. early 20th century)

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About California Masons

Masonry is the world's first and largest fraternal organization.

It is based on the belief that each man has a responsibility to help make the world a better place. As Masons, we lead by example, give back to our communities, and support numerous Masonic philanthropies. We invest in children, our neighborhoods, and our future. With 2 million Masons in the United States and more then 3 million worldwide, we’ve established a strong and highly respected local, national, and international presence.

How it all began

In the Middle Ages, the term “freemason” referred to highly skilled stonemasons who were hired as free agents to build castles and cathedrals in England and Scotland. Because of the inherent danger of their work, many stonemasons formed local organizations, called lodges, to take care of sick and injured members as well as the widows and orphans of those who were killed on the job. They also used lodges as places to meet, receive their pay, plan their work, train new apprentices, and socialize.

In 1717, the Freemasons organized as a fraternal group with the establishment of the first governing body, called a Grand Lodge, in London. Within the next two decades, English Freemasonry spread throughout Europe and eventually made its way to the American colonies. In 1733, the first American lodge was established in Boston under the authority of the Grand Lodge of England. George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock, and other founding fathers were among the first Masons in America.

From the Middle Ages to California gold

During the Gold Rush of 1849, thousands of settlers came to California in search of fortune. Those who were Masons brought their rich traditions with them, soon establishing some of California’s first Masonic lodges in the mining towns of the Gold Country.