|Written by Sal Ferrigno|
Hiram Lodge was chartered on November 12, 1750 and held its first meeting in the following December. As such it is the oldest lodge in the state of Connecticut and about the seventh oldest in the US (not counting military lodges). Our original charter, still in the lodge’s possession, is known as the Oxnard Charter and is the oldest extant charter in America (the earlier ones having been lost or destroyed). It is named after Thomas Oxnard, who was the Provincial Grand Master for the colonies under the Grand Lodge of England, and was issued from St. John’s Lodge in Boston.
Our first master was David Wooster, later hero of the French and Indian War and the Revolutionary War. He had gathered a group of Masons in New Haven together to petition for a charter. The other charter members appear to have been Samuel Mansfield, John Eliot, Nathan Whiting, Elihu Lyman and Jehiel Tuttle (in whose tavern the first meetings where held). It is not known for sure where these men were made Masons, but it is thought that David Wooster was raised in England in 1745/6 after transporting a cartel ship of troops and prisoners after the battle of Louisburg. Four of the founders of Old Hiram were from Ivy League colleges: Wooster, Whiting and Lyman from Yale and Eliot from Harvard.
Hiram Lodge was originally known as the Lodge at New Haven and was carried on the rolls of the Grand Lodge of England as Lodge #143. The name Hiram was first used by the lodge in a communication to the Provincial Grand Lodge in April, 1773. This letter noted that the lodge had sixty members at the time. The lodge first met in taverns but was soon meeting in purpose built lodge rooms from the Union School and Tontine Hotel, to the now demolished building on Chapel and Union Streets. In the 20th century it even had its own building that stands at 234 Crown Street. In 1927, it moved with many other Masonic bodies to our current location at 285 Whitney Avenue.
Hiram Lodge has had many notable members ranging from Benedict Arnold to Hiram Bingham (the discoverer of Macchu Picchu) and often counted many of the top members of New Haven society on it’s rolls. Over the course of Connecticut Masonic history, Hiram Lodge has had the honor of having ten members elected to the office of Grand Master, from Pierpont Edwards in 1789 to Samuel Moyle in 1933. More recently Gustaf R. Bodin in 2001 and Charles A. Buck, Jr in 2010.
Hiram has remained strong since 1750 and has always met in New Haven without ever going dark. We are proud of our colonial heritage, wearing our aprons as Bro. George Washington did, for example, and always willing to accept visiting brothers to our meetings. Hiram is also unique in the fact that we are one of the few lodges that has permission to use a ritual different from the standard one. Our ritual dates from about 1818 and has remained unchanged since Jeremy Ladd Cross presented it to the lodge. It is noted in our history that our ritual is the same as worked in London’s Lodge of Antiquity under the noted Masonic writer William Preston.
WB Martin Ede
Historian, Hiram Lodge #1 A.F. & A.M.
This is a brief version of a lodge with over 260 years of history. If you would like to learn more, please visit or write.