THE INDEPENDENT NEWS
COURTHOUSE – The City Council last month granted a conditional use permit to the Princess Anne Masonic Lodge No. 25, AF & AM, on Princess Anne Road that will clear the way for a new 8,000 square foot lodge.
Unfortunately, a new lodge means the end of a long-standing — and sometimes moveable — lodge that is a familiar site along Princess Anne Road. The historic structure dates back to the late 19th Century, and it has been relocated before, most recently in the late 1960s.
An architectural evaluation found the building could not be moved again to make way for a modern structure, so the building will be demolished, according to a city report.
According the report prepared by Jonathan Sanders, a city planner, the cornerstone was laid in 1877 near the old Princess Anne County Courthouse. The completed lodge itself dates back to 1878, when the hall was dedicated, but the organization’s roots go even deeper into Princess Anne County history.
What became the Princess Anne Lodge started out as Kempsville Lodge No. 25, which recorded its first meeting in 1871, according to a lodge history available online via princessanne25.org. After moving to the Courthouse area, the lodge name changed in the 1880s from Kempsville to Princess Anne.
“We were hoping we would be able to take it and move it to another space on the lot,” said Wayne Flora, a member of the lodge, during a telephone interview. “You hate to lose history, but, at the same time, you’ve got to be safe.”
Flora said the organization’s plans to build the new lodge made clear the issues with the existing one. Before that, there were hopes it might still be used as a museum or for occasional use. The new lodge will be built with community uses in mind, including a social hall for meetings, he said.
The city council vote was heldon Tuesday, Nov. 21.
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