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Prince Hall Grand Masonic Lodge averts auction

Yawu Miller | 4/16/2014, 11:19 a.m.
A foreclosure auction for the Prince Hall Grand Masonic Lodge in Grove Hall scheduled for Thursday was called off last ...
Members of the Prince Hall Masonic Lodge in Grove Hall averted an auction, paying more than $30,000 in penalties and interest on a $300,000 loan. Banner Photo

A foreclosure auction for the Prince Hall Grand Masonic Lodge in Grove Hall scheduled for Thursday was called off last week after officials from the lodged reached an agreement with Northborough Capital Partners, the entity that currently holds their loan.

Under the terms of the agreement, the Prince Hall officials paid more than $30,000 in penalties and interest for defaulting on a $300,000 loan, according to a lodge member who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The lodge has six months to pay off the remaining principal on the loan.

Lodge officials would not speak to the Banner for this story.

The Lodge borrowed the $300,000 in 2006, to make needed repairs to the 30,000-square-foot building, including repairs to the roof and HVAC system.

According to the Banner’s unnamed source, rank-and-file members of the lodge were unaware of the default on the loan until a foreclosure auction notice garnered media attention.

Once lodge members became aware of the predicament, they began making donations.

“They’ve got members on fixed incomes coming up with $500 and $1,000 donations,” the source said.

Coming up with the funds to pay the remaining principal on the $300,000 loan shouldn’t be a problem, according to the source.

“There are a number of institutions that are now offering to step up and help save and restore the space,” he said. “This is do-able and should have been done a while back.”

The notice of the impending auction sent shock waves through Boston’s black community. The Prince Hall Lodge has been the site of numerous community events, including concerts, community meetings and political rallies. Sitting on an acre of land, it is one of the largest black-owned parcels of commercial real estate in the city.

“The Prince Hall Lodge is a historic facility,” said City Councilor Tito Jackson. “The work of the lodge and its members is invaluable work that we need to continue in our community. I will do whatever needs to be done to make sure we preserve this gem.”

The lodge is one of the oldest black-run institutions in the United States.

Prince Hall, the 18th century Mason for whom the lodge was named, was an abolitionist who is believed to have served in the American Revolutionary War. In 1775, while Boston was under siege by British forces, Hall and other Africans sought to be inducted into Freemasonry through the all-white Boston St. John’s Lodge but were rejected.

Hall and his cohort then turned to members of Lodge No. 441 of the Grand Lodge of Ireland, which was attached to the British forces stationed in Boston. The British troops initiated the group, but did not have the authority to issue them a charter.

Ultimately, Hall appealed to the Grand Lodge of England, which granted the group a charter for African Lodge Number 1.

Hall became a grand master and opened African lodges in Philadelphia and Rhode Island before his death in 1807. In 1827, the African Grand Lodge was named the Prince Hall Lodge in his honor.