The Suffolk Masonic District is located in and encompasses all of Suffolk County, New York State’s easternmost county, which is why we often remark that the sun rises first on Masonry in Suffolk District! Located on Long Island, Suffolk County is surrounded on three sides by water, the easternmost part being split into two forks; the north fork, home of most of Long Islands farms and wineries, and the south fork, known for the Hamptons and the Montauk Light House. Being approximately 85 miles long by 20 miles wide, Suffolk County is one of New York State’s larger counties, populated by 1.5 million residents.
Masonry (sometimes also called Freemasonry) has been in existence for over 600 years. Its organization harks back to the operative stonemasons who built the great cathedrals of Europe during the middle ages and the renaissance. Freemasonry began as a method of insuring adequate job training for its aspiring stoneworkers and quality control at the work site. In addition, the members of a local “lodge” (as the building site’s meeting place was called) provided charity for the widows, children and indigent workers of its building community. In the 17th century, most of Europe’s cathedrals having been completed, lodges began accepting non-operative members from other professions in order to fill the ranks of the diminishing numbers of stonemasons. These were known as speculative masons, which is what Masonry is today.
Masonry was exported to the colonies well before the American Revolution. We are especially proud that so many prominent and patriotic founding fathers were also Masons, including Benjamin Franklin, Paul Revere and George Washington. In fact, at least a third of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were Masons.
In 1717 four local lodges in London, England combined to form the world’s first Grand Lodge. A Grand Lodge is an umbrella organization which governs the lodges within its geographical jurisdiction. Suffolk District’s grand lodge is the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of New York, founded in 1781 and currently located at 71 W. 23rd Street, New York City.
Masonry has been in Suffolk County for over two hundred years. Suffolk Lodge No. 60, located in the old whaling village of Port Jefferson, is Suffolk District’s oldest lodge, having received its charter in 1797, the final year in office of president (and Mason) George Washington. Suffolk District boasts two thousand members in sixteen lodges, extending from Amityville in the west to Amagansett in the east, a distance of approximately 70 miles.
While the Masons of Suffolk District meet regularly in their lodges, one will often see them at community events, whether it’s paying homage to our country by marching in Fourth of July parades, doing child I.D. programs, helping our veterans, or opening up our lodges during community events. When you see a Mason lending a helping hand, please stop and say hello. He would be glad to speak with you about becoming a member of the world’s largest and oldest fraternal organization.