Masonic Walk in Charleston, South
By: Ill. Bro. McDonald "Don" Burbidge,
When you arrive in Charleston
to celebrate the 200th birthday of the Supreme Council you will
want to see and learn something new about the city in which it all
Charleston has so much history and so many places
to see. The tours are mind boggling to say the least. Some of the
questions you will be asking yourself is do I take a bus, boat, bike, or a
carriage tour just to name some of the tours that are available. All of
these ways to see Charleston are excellent to say the least. However they
do not cover the early Masonic history of, Charleston.
In an effort to provide the visitor with a little
bit of the Masonic history of Charleston may we suggest a "Masonic
Walking Tour" of Charleston? This is a tour that will not require a
reservation of any type or a tour guide. A map will be provided and a
description of each area you will travel will be provided.
The tour starts at the Lodge Alley Inn located on
East Bay Street at the Alley made of Belgian blocks. It will end at St.
Michael’s church with you standing in front of Ill. Brother Frederick
Paved in Belgian blocks, the
alley was created by adjacent landowners to allow access from their homes
on State Street to their ships and docks one block away on East Bay
Street. It takes its name from the Lodge of Freemasons, First established
in the alley in 1773. Lodge Alley is located in an area of the old walled
city of Charleston where the French Huguenots once had warehouses and
dwellings. Originally being very close to Charleston's wharf’s, Lodge
Alley developed an 18th century seaport character expressed in taverns,
storage warehouses, carriage houses, tables, lodges and corner dwellings.
It was at Marine Lodge No. 38 that Charlestonians
openly defied the British government before the Revolutionary War. On
November 7, 1774 as a means of protesting the harsh treatment shown to
Boston, Charleston’s Liberty Boys met in the Masonic Lodge-Room and
constructed a "rolling stage" or parade float. Upon it effigies
of the Pope, the Devil, Lord North, and Governor Thomas Hutchinson of
Massachusetts were displayed. The appearance of the float marked the end
of a three-day period in which Charleston’s Tea Party was equally
important as a symbol of defiance to British oppression.
When the "Grand Lodge of South Carolina,
Ancient York Masons," was formed by the five "Ancient: Lodges in
Charleston, January 1, 1787, in which movement Marine Lodge, No. 38, was a
prominent factor, it is a noteworthy fact, that at least three of the
principal officers were Pennsylvania Masons, viz. Hon. William Drayton,
Grand Master; Hon. Mordecai Gist, Deputy Grand Master; Edward Weyman,
Esq., Senior Grand Warden.
(As you exit the Alley turn to your right go to the
next block and turn left again.)
Originally named Kinloch Court
but in 1810 changed to Philadelphia Alley and then to by William Johnson
who owned much of the property in the vicinity. Later on it was renamed
Philadelphia Street. William Johnson had been sent to Philadelphia as a
prisoner during Revolutionary War and named the street in admiration of
As you walk down this historic street you will
find it is much the same as it was when it was first made. The Street
still looks much today as it was originally made when it was first
created. About 1/3 of the way down the Street look up to your left and you
will see a view of the steeple of St. Phillip’s church over the brick
wall that runs most of the length of the Street. Also try to imagine the
pistol duels of men protecting their honor and horse carriages traveling
down it, see if you can spot the rock in the street with the outline of a
metal carriage wheel etched on it.
(As you exist the street turn to your left go to
Church Street and turn left again.)
St. Phillip’s Church
St. Philip’s church was
first erected at the corner of Broad and Meeting Streets between the years
1681 and 1682. The structure was made of black cypress and the foundation
was made of brick. After a prosper start it was usually referred to as the
"English Church," but the real name was St. Philip’s.
As Charles Town evolved into prosperous Colonial
City the need for a new church was realized. As early as 1711 the Assembly
authorized "a new church built of brick with a tower or steeple, and
a ring of bells therein." A decade later the "brick church"
was still incomplete. The Assembly passed another bill in December 1720,
which empowered the Commissioners to determine what the church would look
like. To raise the money for this, the bill also called for "An
additional duty of three pence per gallon to be laid on rum, and five
pence per gallon on brandy and other spirits."
When the new edifice of the "Established
Church" rose at the head of one of the town’s principal through
fares, the street became known as Church Street as does the present
building on the same site.
On December 27, 1762 and again in December 1784
Right Rev. Robert Smith presented to the Masons of Charles-Town a Masonic
sermon, which he called "Charity Sermon for the Masons No.
100." This sermon is perhaps one of the earliest if not one of
the first documented Masonic sermons of its kind presented in Charles-Town
to the Masons. Right Rev. Smith established the College of Charleston and
the Society for the Widows and Orphans of the Clergy, which still exists
today. Rev. Frederick Dalcho, M.D., was a member of the Society for the
Widows and Orphans of the Clergy, which his name first appears in the
meeting minutes for October 3, 1818.
On Christmas Day, 1805, Dr. Dalcho and Mary
Elizabeth Threadcraft were married in St. Philip’s Church, by Rev. Dr.
Edward Jenkins. This was Dr. Dalcho’s second marriage and his wife was
to survive him until December 12, 1852. There were no children, from this
During the summer months of 1814 our late Ill.
Brother Frederick Dalcho, M.D. officiated at the church as Rector for the
summer months until a new Rector could be found to fill the vacant spot
left by the untimely death of Rev. J. D. Simons.
Buried in the graveyard of St. Philip’s church
you will find the grave of Ill. Brother James Moultrie, Sr. who was a
founder of the Supreme Council and the gravesite of Right Rev. Robert
(As you leave St. Phillip’s church head towards the
intersection of Broad and Church Street)
Corner of Broad and Church Street
Site of Brother Charles
Shepheard's Tavern, also known at various times as Swallow's Tavern, The
City Tavern and The Corner Tavern. At this location occurred many
historically important events. One was the organization of one of the
first Masonic lodges and of The Supreme Council for the Scottish Rite
Masons for the entire United States.
Solomon's Lodge No. 1, Free and Accepted Masons,
was organized on Oct. 29, 1736, at 'Mr. Charles Shepheard 's in Broad
Street ‘. The first Scottish Rite lodge, the Supreme Council, 33°
, Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, was organized at the
same location in 1801. The first record of a theatrical season in
Charleston, and one of the first in the country, was announcement in the
South Carolina Gazette, Jan. 11, 1735, that on the following 24th, a
tragedy called The Orphan, or the Unhappy Marriage, by Thomas Otway, would
be "'attempted'' in ''the Courtroom.'' The ''courtroom'' was the long
room of Shepheard's Tavern, which was rented for several years prior to
1738 to the provincial government for meetings of the court, since the
Province had no suitable building and the Governor and Council could not
agree on where one should be built. The use of the same room for court
sessions and entertainment’s was not unusual. A dancing master, Henry
Holt, gave a ball in the Courtroom a month before The Orphan was presented
there. (The Orphan was not the first theatrical production in Charleston.
Tony Aston, an English actor, in 1703, wrote and acted what was probably
the first professional dramatic performance written and acted in the
American colonies.) Shepheard's was also one of the city's post offices.
In 1743, Shepheard received and distributed mail arriving on ships and by
land. In 1773, when the establishment was Swallow's Tavern, the first
Chamber of Commerce in America was formed. Banquets were given for
arriving Royal Governors at Shepheard's Tavern. The St. Andrew's Society,
and other fraternal organizations in the city, held their meetings and
dinners at Shepheard's. After the name changed to "The Corner
Tavern" it hosted meetings of the Sons of liberty during the
Revolutionary period. The name changed again to the "City
Tavern" was burned in 1796 but was soon replaced. The tavern building
was demolished in 1928 for the construction, in 1928-29, of the present
building. The Classic style building faced with Indiana limestone, which
cost $280,000 and was known as the Citizens and Southern Bank in 1906.
As you stand on this corner try to imagine what
it must have looked like back in 1801 when the streets were made of dirt,
no traffic lights, power lines did not exist, and no cars traveled up and
down the streets. Look at the map that shows were each founder lived at
and you can almost imagine as to what street they traveled on to reach
"Shepherd’s Tavern" for that first historic meeting of the
Supreme Council on May 31, 1801.
(When leaving Broad and Church Street go towards
Meeting Street to St. Michael’s Church)
St. Michael’s Church
St. Michael’s church was
completed in 1761 and is the oldest church edifice in the city of
Charleston. Built on this same spot was the first church of St. Philip’s
or as the population called it, "Church of England." By 1727 the
town had grown too large for the small church and a more spacious one was
built of brick on Church Street which was called St. Philip’s II for a
When George Washington tour through Charleston in
1791 he attended church services here at St. Michael’s. The clock and
ring of eight bells in St. Michael's steeple were imported in 1764 from
During the year 1811-1812 Ill. Brother Frederick
Dalcho and his wife owned pew number 89. The location of this pew is in
the same location today as it was in 1811.
St. Michael’s church has rich Masonic history
from it’s early years on. Ill. Brother Frederick Dalcho was the
Assistant Rector along with being the superintendent of the Sunday school
children. In a recently discovered letter written by Dalcho he asks the
Warden’s of the church for permission to locate a book shelf in the
balcony of the church for the Sunday School children to store their books.
Following a number of part-time associations with
St. Michael’s Church in Charleston, South Carolina, he was retained as
an assistant minister on February 23, 1819. In 1824 he established with
others, "The Charleston Gospel Messenger and Protestant Episcopal Register",
a monthly journal of the Church’s activities. This paper was
published monthly until 1853. His monumental work at this period was a
history of the Protestant Episcopal Church in South Carolina, the first
published history of any diocese in America. Consisting of more than 600
pages. All of Dr. Fredrick Dalcho’s book were sold at the, "The
Theological Book Store" in Charleston, South Carolina located at 51
At and after the installation of The Grand Lodge
officers were complete, a procession was formed and paraded to St. Michael’s
church where Rev. Brother Dalcho, Grand Chaplain delivered the Divine
Service. His sermon was based on the text John12: 36, "While ye have
light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light."
Dalcho remarked in his sermon that:
Free-Masonry, like the Religion of the Redeemer, is eminently
calculated to dispense "peace on earth, and good will towards
men." And if the moral and religious state of the community in which
it flourishes, be not increased and refined by its influence, it must be
charged to the perversity of the Brotherhood, and not to the principles of
the Institution. The general application of its principles and practice to
the spiritual and temporal welfare of men cannot be doubted. It binds its
members by the strongest sanctions, "to do justly, to love mercy, to
walk humbly before God;" and to "love the Brotherhood."
Written in the historic files
of St. Michael’s church it is recorded that on May 31, 1801 five-vestry
men and a Senior Warden were present. No business was conducted and the
meeting was adjourned. The minutes of the said meeting read and confirmed.
Ill. Bro. Frederick Dalcho, M. D. and his wife
are buried in the graveyard of this historic churchyard.
To the author this is the 2nd most important
site in Charleston Masonic history. As you stand looking at Ill. Brother
Frederick Dalcho’s grave read each word carefully on his marker and you
might agree with me.
Rev. Frederick Dalcho
Assistant Minister Of
St. Michael’s Church
Historian of the Diocese
Sovereign Grand Commander
Of The Supreme Council, 33°
A\ A\ S\
Of all of the known gravesites
of the founders only on Ill. Brother Frederick Dalcho is it mention is
that he was a member of the Supreme Council. This is due to the fact that
the Masons in Charleston had this monument made for their late leader and
friend that they loved so much.
This ends the "Masonic Walk" tour.
Thank you for taking the time to travel it.
Ill. Brother McDonald "Don" Burbidge, 33º