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History of the Valley of Alexandria

Chapter 2
(1911 – 1936)

The brethren at the time of the Valley"s inception were well aware of the challenges facing them and the hard work required to progress from a scant beginning to a well run and effective fraternal organization.


They had a line of willing and interested officers in all four Bodies to take on the tasks ahead. An immediate requirement was a meeting place. Brother James E. Alexander, 32deg, informed the brethren at the June 10, 1910 meeting that he had conferred with officers of Alexandria-Washington Lodge No. 22, and they were agreeable to sharing the Blue Lodge Room in the Masonic Temple (3rd floor of the City Hall building) for the sum of $75 per year plus one-third of utility expenses. This was accepted by vote of the lodge. This was the Scottish Rite"s meeting place for the next 39 years.


Being able to confer the Scottish Rite degrees was a slow, but determined process. Scripts had to be obtained from the Supreme Council, and parts assigned to the brethren who would confer the degrees. In reality, a few men did a majority of the work. In January 1912 the lodge appropriated $500 for the purchase of uniforms and lockers for their storage. (At that same meeting, the Secretary"s salary was approved at $75 per year.)

Initially, nearly all the degrees were communicated, but gradually degree teams were built up. During this early period, the Washington, DC Bodies were very helpful by conferring some of the degrees at Alexandria"s reunions. In a few instances the Alexandria candidates received their degrees in Washington along with DC"s candidates. By 1919 there were enough degree teams to confer twelve degrees on a Class in Lynchburg. According to the account of Illustrious Boyd Richards, the Alexandria teams also conferred degrees in Strasburg, Winchester, Harrisonburg, and Front Royal.


By 1923 the Alexandria Bodies were conferring 19 of the 29 degrees. That was, indeed, encouraging, but think about it in this light: 24 brethren with speaking parts conferred all 19 degrees - seven men delivered 10 to 19 parts, eight did 5 to 7 parts, nine had 1, 2, or 3 parts!

Membership in the Valley grew steadily, but in small numbers. Seldom did a Class have more than ten candidates. In February of 1912 the membership was 60. In March of 1913, this had increased to 70. Twenty years later, 641 members were on record. Dues were only $5 a year; petition fees (set in 1912) were $133.50. The Secretary"s salary was set at $100 per year.


The first By-Laws were developed and approved at a meeting on June 13, 1913. It required nine members to be present to constitute a quorum in order to hold a meeting. In many of the summer months, it was difficult to have a quorum for the meetings because of hot weather and uncomfortable conditions in the meeting room.

It should be noted that during this 25-year period, the Almoner"s Box of Fraternal Assistance was always passed at the end of meetings. The total amount collected ranged between $2 and $5, with many collections below and a few above this range.


In 1920 the Valley purchased a small garage in the downtown area for $20,000, and was later rented for $100 a month. A house on the corner of Cameron and North Alfred Street was procured for $34,000. It served as a rental for 11 roomers, and other rooms were furnished as offices and Club facilities. Both properties were sold in 1945 for a small profit of $3,000.

It is interesting to note the thinking of members about having their "own building." Typical of this notion was a meeting that occurred in Winchester on October 19, 1928. Eleven Scottish Rite brethren reviewed problems facing the Valley and resolved that it was "the sense of this committee to build a Scottish Rite Temple in the City of Alexandria at a cost of between $150,000 and $200,000." It took 42 years for that to become a reality!


One of the most notable events in this 25-year period was the fall reunion in 1929. It was the first Masonic group to hold an event in the new, but still under construction, George Washington Masonic Memorial. In addition to Alexandria"s 110 candidates, there were also candidates from Washington, DC and Baltimore, Maryland. These two Bodies, as well as the Valley of Richmond, participated in conferring some of the degrees. At the October meeting earlier that month, the Valley elected - by acclamation - the Honorable Harry F. Byrd, Sr. (then Governor of Virginia) to receive the degrees.


This reunion took place over a four-day period. Several distinguished brethren spoke to the Class and attending brethren. The reunion was concluded with a superb banquet at Armory Hall. The meal was prepared by the dining staff of George Mason Hotel in Alexandria.

By December 31, 1930 the membership had reached 658. As with the rest of the country at that time, the Alexandria Scottish Rite was heading into troubled times. By 1933 the membership had been reduced slightly to 641; a year later, to 621; by 1935, to 531 [63 were suspended for non-payment of dues in that year]; and reduced further at the end of 1936 to 528.


The Valley experienced a serious loss of revenue because many members were unemployed and could not pay their dues, fewer candidates entered the reunions, and there were fewer renters at the Club Room. In 1931, $1,000 was borrowed to finance the Fall Reunion. The total number of candidates in 1934 was four; the 1935 Spring Reunion, happily, consisted of nine. In 1932, salaries were reduced by 20%.


There was no planned or special 25th anniversary celebration. However, at the regular meeting on April 19, 1936, Venerable Master A. Slater Lamond, 32deg, called on William L. Allen, 33deg, Venerable Master in 1912, to comment on the 25 years since the charter was granted.

The first 25 years of the Valley were promising, but because of the depression years, disappointing. Yet, through the determination of the brethren involved, the Valley continued with energy and made plans for continuance which set a course of action for future Alexandria Scottish Rite Masons to follow.

Back to Chapter 1

Continue to Chapter 3 (1937-1960)

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