"To preserve the reputation of the Fraternity unsullied must be your constant care."


Monday, January 25, 2016

Is This The Smallest Lodge In The World?

One of the smallest Freemason lodges in the U.S. is in the California "ghost town" of Hornitos, in Mariposa County located midway between San Francisco and the eastern state line, and just west of Yosemite National Park. Hornitos Lodge No. 98 was built in 1855, and the lodge was chartered a year later. It is on the National Register of Historic Places, and is still active.

From the NoeHill Travels in California website:

The plaque on the front of the building reads:

Point of Historical Interest 
Hornitos Masonic Hall
Registration MRP - 001
Hornitos Masonic Hall No. 98
NRHP Number 05000775 
Listed August 3, 2005

This building was constructed c. 1855 of native schist rock. It was purchased in August 1873 by the Freemasons of Hornitos Lodge No. 98, and since early 1875, continue to meet here. The Lodge was originally chartered as Quartzburg Lodge No. 98 on May 8, 1856, and met in Quartzburg. This building is the smallest Masonic Hall in California. Its lodgeroom is only 17'-6" by 29'-6" and has seen visitors from around the world.
California O.H.P. 
Plaque set by the Grand Lodge Free and Accepted Masons of California May 13, 1995

A second plaque reads:
National Register of Historic Places 
This restored Masonic Hall is recognized for the significant community involvement of its members from 1873 to 1930. The Freemasons owned stores and hotels, served as town and county officials, worked as miners and engineers and supported Hornitos from their farms and ranches. Their Masonic philosophy of personal improvement and community betterment created a positive influence in Hornitos.
This plaque set by the Grand Master of Masons in California and the Worshipful Master of Hornitos Lodge on May 20, 2006

In 2011, Brethren from Modesto Lodge No. 206 visited the lodge, and their website contains some photos of the tiny interior. From the Modesto Lodge website:

“The Hornitos Masonic Lodge is located in the historic town of Hornitos, which was once a gun-toting Wild West gold mining camp with a population topping 10,000.  This town, with its population sign now reading 75, is an outstanding vision of history, where the Wells Fargo Stage opened their office and ran some shipments worth $40,000 in gold, and where Domenico Ghirardelli built his first store before moving to San Francisco and to ‘Chocolate Fame.’ ” – excerpted from the Hornitos Lodge 98 brochure.


Also of interest is that for many years, the smallest lodge in size in Ireland, and perhaps the world, was  Premiere Lodge  of Connought No. 14 in  County Galway, Ireland.  It has recently moved to a slightly larger  facility, but here is a photo of its tiny former location from their website:

If you know of a similarly small lodge room in the world, please pass it along to me and I'll be happy to add it to the list.


  1. Thank you for sharing this one, Illustrious. I hope to see it some time! - Eric Sharp, WM 2016, Reseda Lodge and 32' Pasadena Valley SR.

  2. California has another small (very small) lodge that is still active...Forbestown #50 in Forbestown, California (located in Northern California, approximately 1½ hours north of Sacramento, California).

    I have had the pleasure of visiting this historic lodge many times. It's small membership is dedicated to keeping the lodge, chartered in 1855, alive and well.


    Ed Nelson
    Orland Laurel Lodge #245
    Orland, CA.

  3. Another small and historic lodge is Oak Summit no. 112 in Knight's Ferry, California. Also Modesto Lodge is no.206 (not 256). Thank you for sharing this great information.

  4. Hello. In Cuba there is a lodge named Baracoa, in the city with the same name. The lodge room is 29,5ft for 17ft.

    Best regard

    Hilario Leon
    Logia Fidelidad (Fidelity Lodge) Majagua, CIego de Avila, Cuba

  5. The Hornitos Lodge has an official web page too: http://www.hornitos98.org

    They moved from Quartzburg in 1858 because Horitos had the next "big strike." They purchased a two story building across from Domenico Ghirardelli's store, and met on the second floor. But they didn't change the lodge name until 1860.

    The building burned down in 1873, and temporarily rented the I.O.O.F. Hall. They purchased the Fashion Saloon for $200, which is the building pictured above, and have been meeting there ever since.

  6. The Premier Lodge of Connaught is my Mother Lodge. It was indeed tiny, but had fantastic atmosphere. Sadly missed!

  7. Here is a link to the smallest lodge in Victoria, Australia if not in Australia. Thanks to Lodge Devotion for recording this on Walhalla Lodge No. 69



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