WHAT IS MASONRY?
Freemasonry is a Brotherhood of Men with the basic purpose of making good men better and the belief in the practice of the three principal tenets of Masonry: Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth, using allegories and symbols to teach these lessons. Freemasonry is a system of thought, philosophy and action that has been handed down to us from the remote past, the oldest and most venerable of all human institutions.
It is the oldest and largest fraternity with its history and tradition dating back to antiquity. Its bonds of friendship, compassion and brotherly love have survived over the most divisive political, military and religious conflicts through centuries. Freemasonry (or Masonry) is neither a forum nor a place for worship. Instead, it is a friend of all religions which are based on the belief in one God or Supreme Being.
The great secret of Masonry is but to Make Good Men Better. By building himself, he will therefore contribute to the building of Humanity.
HOW IT ALL BEGAN
In the Middle Ages, the terms "mason" and "freemason" were used interchangeably. They were stonemasons who built 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. The masons also used Lodges as places to meet, receive their pay, plan their work, train new apprentices, and socialize.
In 1717, the first Grand Lodge was established in London. Within the next two decades, English Freemasonry spread throughout Europe and eventually made its way to the American colonies. The first lodge organized on American soil appeared in Philadelphia, Pennslyania around 1730. By 1733 a Provincial Grand Lodge was organized in Boston, Massachusetts. George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock, and other founding fathers were among the first Masons in America. Of the 39 men who signed the U.S. Constitution, 13 were Masons.
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. In 1850 - the same year that California became a state - the Grand Lodge of California was established in Sacramento.
Masonry is the world's first and largest fraternal organization. It is a body of knowledge and a system of ethics based on the belief that each man has a responsibility to improve himself while being devoted to his family, faith, country, and fraternity.
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.