From the Wise Master (August, 2011)

posted May 22, 2015, 3:40 PM by San Jose Scottish Rite   [ updated May 22, 2015, 3:41 PM ]

John Unger

A few years ago Claudia and I visited the old south to visit some of the country's history. Freemason's Hall  in Savannah (aka the Cotton Exchange) is a beautiful old brick building on the waterfront. We did not have the opportunity to see the inside at the time because it was not open that day. However, I have included a picture. This is a great site to see if you are ever in Savannah.


The Cotton Exchange, established first in 1872 did not erect a permanent home until 1886. The Old Savannah Cotton Exchange was designed by the Boston architect William Gibbons Preston (1844-1910) and completed in 1886. The building is designed in Romanesque revival and architectural style. During the 19th century leading architects such as the Bostonian Richardson and Frank Furness of Philadelphia were encouraging the Romanesque revival of the era and may have had some influence on Preston. The Savannah Cotton Exchange is one of only a few great structures in America that is erected over a public street. The great doors of the exchange lead onto “Factors Walk” now fondly referred to as “Freemasons’ Walk” by visitors. This notable hanging walk is where many leaders in Savannah’s commerce once worked. Preston’s terracotta architectural design was selected winner from a competition against eleven architects. 
Throughout the 1880s Savannah was ranked among the top merchant trading ports on the Atlantic coast. Savannah as a port city for many years was referred to as the Venice of the South and in its most prosperous epoch oversaw the transport and trade of over two million bales of cotton each year. The structure was completed in 1887 and as of 2009 there are no surviving original Factors. The structure housed the Savannah Chamber of Commerce for a brief time. The former Cotton Exchange is now home to Solomon’s Lodge No. 1, F. & A. M. founded by the renowned Soldier, Statesman, Philanthropist and Freemason James Edward Oglethorpe the founder of Georgia. Solomon’s Lodge is the Mother Lodge of Georgia Masonry and is the Oldest Continuously Operating English Constituted Lodge of Freemasons in the Western Hemisphere .

John P. Unger , 
Wise Master