Star Lodge No. 1 members

Members of Charles Town’s Star Lodge No. 1 including Ray Smith (kneeling) and George Rutherford, George Jackson, Robert Holmes, Chris Pass, Jimmie Buford, Harold Stewart and Miguel Greer have been working with the Jefferson County Homeless Coalition. The lodge has been used for logistical support, manpower and trucks to transport cots and personal items of the clients from one church domicile to the next on a weekly basis.

CHARLES TOWN – Star Lodge No. 1 has the distinction of being the first African-American Prince Hall Masonic Lodge in the state of West Virginia and the Star Lodge members here continue to exercise an unfailing dedication to brotherly love and to helping the community.

“We are a self-sustaining fraternal organization, a brotherhood,” explains Miguel Greer, who is referred to as the lodge’s Worshipful Master, a position he’s held for three years.

In 1877, a group of African-American men from Jefferson County petitioned the Grand Lodge of Maryland for a charter and the Star Lodge No. 1 came to be.

The lodge building itself is historic, dating to 1795. Located at 218 S. Lawrence St., the building is on land once owned by Charles Washington, the brother of George Washington.

The lodge has about 30 active members. Lodge meetings take place in the historic building and members of the community can hold weddings, receptions and other community events at the site.

Greer, a third generation Mason, said lodge members partner with a variety of community organizations to help out as much as they can. One such organization is Jefferson County Community Ministries.

“We help move the belongings of homeless people who are seeking shelter in local churches,” Greer said. “We are moving more and more bags that are heavier and heavier. There are an increasing number of homeless women.”

Lodge members provide school supplies and scholarships. At Thanksgiving, needy families received turkeys from lodge members. Winter coats were also donated to the Coats for Kids Potato Hill Reunion Committee in Charles Town last year. Lodge members provided $1,000 worth of coats.

“The money came directly from the members, out of their pockets,” Greer said.

 Another project of the lodge involves cleaning up the Fairview Cemetery on Gibsontown Road located a few miles outside of Charles Town.

Gibsontown was a small African-American community. Fairview Cemetery was established in 1888 and is still used today. It is home to the graves of Civil War and Spanish American War veterans as well as many who were enslaved in Jefferson County.

“So many of the people there were long lost and forgotten,” Greer said.

One new member of the lodge is Tony Grant, who also is a member of the Ranson City Council.

“I was looking for an organization that promotes helping good men be better. I found it at the lodge,” said Grant, who joined the lodge in December.

“We don’t seek credit for what we do,” Greer said. “We embrace a better way to walk, to live. We meet here and build foundations for our lives.”

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