Goodnight Raleigh - a look at the art, architecture, history, and people of the city at night

A Princely Urban Edifice

The Prince Hall Masonic Lodge

The photo above shows how the Prince Hall Masonic Lodge appeared in 1971. Below is how it appeared a few nights ago.

A recent post on this blog (Looking Due East From Above) captured a view of four structures that are now relics of Raleigh’s historic African American community. Among them* is the Prince Hall Masonic Lodge.

When the three-storey brick building was erected at the corner of Blount and Cabarrus Streets 1907-09, this part of downtown was still largely residential. There were three other community social halls and three churches within a half block. And from here, the African American community emanated out to the south and east.

The Prince Hall Masonic Lodge was constructed in the Italianate style, which, at the time, had been popular in Raleigh for nearly forty years. Characteristic hooded arched windows and fine detailing of the street front cornice give this building a quiet elegance. The cut-away corner entrance with its supporting cast iron Corinthian column was a common feature of many downtown early 20th century commercial buildings.

For as long as I can remember, the building was painted a shiny metallic silver color. Above the door hung an old fashioned lighted metal sign in the shape of the Masonic compass and square. This adornment was apparently removed when the building’s facade was renovated and the silver paint removed about fifteen years ago.

I have always heard that the Prince Hall Lodge was built with brick salvaged from Raleigh’s antebellum white Masons building on Fayetteville Street when the (now) Empire Properties Building replaced it in 1907. I don’t now if this story is true or not, but it sure makes for an interesting urban legend.

* Dr. Manassa Pope House (1901), Lincoln Theater (ca 1940), Prince Hall Lodge, Tupper Memorial Baptist Church (1866, 1914) 


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