King Solomon Lodge #1
King Solomon’s Lodge #1 and the New Bern Preservation Foundation are partners in the historic restoration of the Lodge meeting place originally known as Drayton’s Hall.
The initial phase of the project is proceeding apace. Here you can see a group of windows nearing completion. They have a number of separate pieces that must be replicated from the original double-hung windows. The rest of Phase One will complete all aspects of exterior stabilization and restoration. So far our craftsmen have completed the new roof, restoration of the cupola, and are most of the way through the window restoration, Next will be replacement of siding and removal of the cinder block sheathing around the brick foundation.
A fire in 2005 caused extensive smoke and water damage to the structure. The structure was not flooded during Hurricane Florence, but the storm certainly highlighted the urgent need to do external repairs to keep out wind and rain.
Formed in 1865, King Solomon’s Lodge is the first African-American Masonic lodge in North Carolina and one of the first south of the Mason-Dixon Line. The current building, originally known as Drayton’s Hall, was completed in 1870. It has been continuously used as a Masonic lodge and meeting hall since it was built, and it is one of the very few structures north of Queen Street to survive the great fire of 1922.
Worshipful Master of King Solomon Lodge Frederick Smith has kept everyone focused on the significance of this effort. “King Solomon #1 is an icon of the history of the Colonial Capital of North Carolina,” said Smith. “The sole purpose of this important structure is to house the membership of a Master Mason Lodge, a Chapter of The Eastern Star as well as their young men, The Kop, and the young ladies, the Gleaners. Our vision of making good men and women better and cultivating young minds for the future is of the utmost importance.” The New Bern Preservation Foundation is providing experience in preservation to support this initiative.
“This is a vitally important historic structure not only to New Bern but to the entire state. Its architecture is important along with its historic and cultural significance.” said Tim Thompson, current President of the New Bern Preservation Foundation. “This is one of the few buildings in New Bern that we know was built by African American craftsmen and used by the African American community leaders who became state legislators and U. S. Congressmen.”
Illustrious black freemasons include Thurgood Marshall, W.E.B. Du Bois, Booker T. Washington, Martin Luther King, Nat King Cole, Duke Ellington, Jesse Jackson, and Nelson Mandela, to name a few.