California Historical Landmarks in San Francisco

California Historical Landmark 408
Birthplace of Freemasonry in California
728 Montgomery Street

California Historical Landmark 408: Birthplace of Freemasonry in California
Genella Building) and Belli Building)
19 October 2002

California Historical Landmark 408: Birthplace of Freemasonry in California
20 March 2004
(Click Photos to Zoom)

Birthplace of Freemasonry in California

On November 9, 1848, a charter was granted by the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia for the organization of California Lodge No. 13, now California Lodge No. 1 of the Free and Accepted Masons. On November 23, 1848, Levi Stowell was appointed master of the new lodge, and on November 15, 1849, the lodge was formally organized under the charter.

Citation from California Office of Historic Preservation

Levi Stowell carried the charter from Washington to San Francisco.

He traveled by ship down the Atlantic coast, disembarked in Panama and crossed the isthmus on mule back. After weeks of waiting for a ship on the Pacific coast, Stowell embarked for San Francisco.

The first meeting of California Lodge No. 13 took place on Thursday, November 17, 1849, on Montgomery Street. The second meeting was held on December 7, 1849, on Montgomery Street in a building rechristened Masonic Hall.

In 1850, California Lodge 13 joined four other lodges, also chartered from the eastern United States, to form the Grand Lodge of California. California Lodge 13 became California Lodge 1. The Masonic Hall on Montgomery Street was replaced by a new, more suitable, Masonic Hall on Kearny Street, near Pine Street.


This historical site is located in the Jackson Square Historic District.

We were unable to locate a commemorative marker for the Birthplace of Freemasonry in California. Here's a list of other California Historical Landmarks which had no bear flag plaque when we visited them.

Some Masonic Halls in California

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