The Grand Lodge of Ancient, Free & Accepted Masons of North Dakota

Celebrating 125 years of Freemasonry

Grand Lodge of the Month - May 2014

Most Worshipful Brother Wendel Van Wechel, Grand Master

The date was June 13, 1889. Thirty-one lodges from the northern Dakota Territory, located on the soil that is now North Dakota, decided to form and organize the Grand Lodge of North Dakota at the Grand Lodge of Dakota Territory in Mitchell, South Dakota. The first annual communication of the Grand Lodge of North Dakota was held in Grand Forks on June 17–18, 1890.

Freemasonry had moved in an unbroken line from the Grand Lodge of North Carolina through the Grand Lodges of Tennessee, Missouri, Iowa, Dakota Territory and finally North Dakota.

With the Homestead Act and the advancement of the railroad through North Dakota in the 1870s and 1880s, North Dakota’s population grew very rapidly in the first thirty years. Freemasonry also grew with this movement. By 1929, the 1889 membership of 1,322 had grown to 15,470 and the number of lodges had grown from 31 to 129.

In 1928, the Grand Lodge established a charitable foundation and today, the board of directors is elected by the North Dakota Freemasons. This Foundation partnered with Bismarck State College to sponsor the Know Your State Contest for Junior and Senior High School students; is a partner in the sponsorship of the North Dakota State Spelling Bee for elementary school children; provides Hometown Matching Grants to subordinate lodges who through local fundraising provide for scholarships and other community charities; supports the DeMolay and International Rainbow for Girls; has provided money for MMSAP training for school personnel; and maintains Masonic Historic Sites throughout the State.

The Freemasons of North Dakota have always been supportive of the Masonic Service Association and the George Washington Masonic National Memorial. North Dakota was the second Grand Lodge to give an assessment of $1.00 per capita to the Memorial.

In 1976, the Freemasons embarked on a courageous project of building a Masonic Auditorium at the International Peace Garden. The building was dedicated in 1981. The International Peace Garden is a 2,300 acre tract of land located on the border between Manitoba, Canada and North Dakota. This site is a beautiful garden of flowers in the summer and is also home for several music and other fine arts camps. In the early times, there was no building to hold the weekly concerts so the musical concerts were subject to the weather elements. The North Dakota Freemasons along with help from the Manitoba Freemasons and others built this building that is in the shape of the Square and Compasses. It can hold approximately 2,000 people and is one of a kind in the world.

Today, Most Worshipful Brother Wendel VanWechel, is North Dakota’ 125th Grand Master, presiding over 45 subordinate lodges and approximately 2890 Freemasons. The Freemasons in North Dakota enjoy the many fraternal activities throughout the State. They are preserving the rich heritage of the fraternity and are currently working with the State Historical Society; they are promoting the Masonic Principles and Values; and providing good quality fellowship.

Grand Lodge of North Dakota, AF&AM
201 14th Avenue North
Fargo, North Dakota 58102