The decision to sell the temple hasn’t hurt two groups that meet independently. The Zal Gaz Grotto, a Masonic social and service club, has its own hall on West Stadium Boulevard, while St. Mary’s Lodge No. 4 of the Prince Hall Masons meets at Bethel A.M.E. Church.
The Prince Hall Masons are named for an African-American who was initiated into Masonry in 1775 by an Irish military lodge stationed in Boston. Though the local Prince Hall lodge dates to 1867, just two years after the founding of Golden Rule No. 159, the black and white lodges had no formal contact for 130 years. The two state organizations belatedly recognized one another in 1997.
Despite their setbacks, some Masons remain optimistic about the fraternity’s future. Seymour Greenstone, secretary for Fraternity No. 262, has been a member since 1957. The group, he notes, “has seen a significant increase in new members in the last five years, mostly young men in their twenties and thirties. These young members are seriously interested in the philosophy and ethical foundations of Masonry and come to the fraternity well read and with great enthusiasm.”