Valley of Nashville - History

Benjamin Bently Allen, 32° 

The first mention of a Consistory in Nashville occurred in a letter from George S. Blackie, 32°, to Sovereign Grand Commander Albert Pike, 33°, dated March 31, 1870, wherein he wrote, "I have been feeling around cautiously about the extension of the Rite in this City (Nashville).  I find enough men anxious for the titles and degrees, but I want to conciliate good men, who will work for the Rite.  I have my eye on some who will do so.  The Supreme Council needs to foster kindly this section of the State."

Brother Blackie did not live to see his dream come true.  On October 9, 1881, Ill. Pitkin C. Wright, 33°, communicated to a class of nine the Scottish Rite degrees from the 4° to the 14° inclusive.  In this class was Brother James D. Richardson, a Past Grand Master of Masons in Tennessee.  Bro Richardson received the 15° to the 30°, inclusive, with General Pike assisting in the communication of these degrees.  On October 11, 1881, Emulation Lodge of Perfection #3 was constituted in Nashville by Sovereign Grand Commander Albert Pike, 33°.

By June 1884 there were 47 members and 18 initiates, of whom the most notable was former President of the United States, James Knox Polk.  However, by this time interest was lagging and the Lodge was listed as dormant.  Other Scottish Rite bodies throughout Tennessee, including Murfreesboro,

Chattanooga and Jackson became inactive and ceased to operate.  On October 14, 1894, Tennessee Consistory #1 was chartered in Memphis and was now the only body in the State which was still functioning.

Upon the death of Brother Pike in 1891, Illustrious James D. Richardson, 33° was elected Acting Sovereign Grand Commander  until the Supreme Council, 33° met in Session in 1901 and elected him to be the Sovereign Grand Commander.  As Sovereign Grand Commander, Ill. Richardson, 33°, became a dynamic force for the progress of Masonry in general and Scottish Rite Masonry in particular.  He originated the publication "The New Age" (now the Scottish Rite Journal) in 1904.  He conceived, planned and set in motion the erection of the present "House of the Temple," located at 1722 Sixteenth Street NW, Washington, D.C., but unfortunately his death on July 24, 1914 denied him the pleasure of seeing its completion.

First Class of Valley of Nashville - 1905

From the time that Emulation Lodge of Perfection became inactive (1892) until 1903 the conferral of degrees was done by various Deputies and in Tennessee's only active Consistory at Memphis.  In a letter from Tennessee Deputy Ill. A.N. Sloan, 33° of Chattanooga to Sovereign Grand Commander Richardson, dated October 1903, he stated: "I find it hard to get brethren to travel from 310 to over 500 miles for the degrees, and until there is a Consistory closer than Memphis, the increase in the Rite will of necessity be very largely through the work of your Deputy.  At such time as you think advisable there ought to be another Consistory in Tennessee."

As a result Sovereign Grand Commander Richardson issued an order directing that a convention be held in Nashville on the 25th through the 28th of September, 1905 for the purpose of conferring the Scottish Rite Degrees, 4° through 32°, inclusive.  A temporary charter was granted for Nashville on September 21, 1905.  The convention was held in the Grand Lodge building at 1516 Laurel Street in Nashville.  The first class was named for Brother Benjamin Bentley Allen, 32°, who had transferred his membership from Memphis to the new Consistory in Nashville.  The Benjamin Bentley Allen Class was composed of thirty-eight of the most able, intelligent and successful men of Nashville.  After the convention sixty-seven brothers joined by affiliation, thus starting Trinity Consistory of Nashville with a membership of 105.

On November 21, 1905 Permanent Charters were received from the Supreme Council, 33°, for the following Bodies:  Moqedah Lodge of Perfection #7; Immanuel Chapter of Rose Croix #2; St. Michael Council of Kadosh #2; and Trinity Consistory #2.

*The above is excerpted and adapted from "One Hundred Years of Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry in Valley of Nashville, Orient of Tennessee 1905-2005"