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History of the Valley of Alexandria
How it Started
In 1910 the City of Alexandria was a small community of only 15,329 residents who were not spread over a large area of the city. Several Masonic organizations, including the Royal Arch and Commandery had been established here in the previous century. Brethren who wanted to become Scottish Rite Masons had to travel to Richmond or Norfolk to receive the degrees they desired to attain.
These circumstances, plus transportation, time, and cost limitations created a prevalent desire by brethren that Scottish Rite become available in Alexandria. As a first step, an Alexandria group of eight Scottish Rite brethren met on March 14, 1910 at the home of James M. Duncan, 320, 916 Prince Street, to initiate such a movement and inaugurate a Lodge of Perfection. Those attending, in addition to Brother Duncan, were:
William G. LeHew, 32°
Charles T. Lindsay, 18° *
Edward F. Parham, 32°
Arthur A. Paul, 14° *
James D. Rowen, 32°
Leopold Ruben, 32°
Vernon A. Slaughter, 32°
*At that time, and for many years later, some members took the degrees of one or two Bodies, and then the remaining ones at later reunions.
At that meeting, the following were elected as officers:
Venerable Master -- William G. LeHew
Senior Warden -- Charles T. Lindsay
Junior Warden -- Robert S. Barrett
Orator -- Leopold Ruben
Secretary -- Vernon A. Slaughter
Treasurer -- James M. Duncan
Brother Rowen, a Past Venerable Master of the District of Columbia Scottish Rite, explained the workings of a Lodge of Perfection, including the requirement for robes, paraphernalia, etc.
The group agreed that the new lodge should be named WASHINGTON MEMORIAL LODGE OF PERFECTION. [A name that stayed until 1961 – as discussed later.]
PLEASE NOTE: Although there are no records or correspondence available to indicate what may have taken place before the March 14 meeting, it is assumed that many discussions had occurred among Alexandria brethren, D.C. brethren, and with the SGIG in Richmond, about plans to form a Scottish Rite Valley in Alexandria.
A month later – April 18 -- the Lodge was convened at 3 PM at the old Masonic Temple on Cameron Street for the purpose of having SGIG John F. Mayer, 33°, issue Letters Temporary to inaugurate the Lodge and install the elected and appointed officers. In addition to those elected at the March 14 meeting, Edgar Warfield, Sr., 14° was installed as Almoner.
As evidence of the need for Scottish Rite in this city, 54 petitioners were elected to receive the 4th through 14th degrees at this first meeting of the Lodge! Among them were two brethren who later served as Secretary – Frank W. Latham and Percy E. Clift.
The next step in the formation of the Valley took place at a meeting on July 29, 1910 when Letters Temporary for the remaining three Bodies were presented by Deputy SGIG, Charles E. Nesbit, 33°. He installed the officers of each Body that had been elected to office that day. This meeting began at 4 PM, recessed for dinner at 6 PM at a local hotel, resumed labor at 7:15 PM, and ended at 10 PM. The three Bodies were named:
Randolph Chapter, Knights Rose Croix No. 3
Lafayette Council, Knights Kadosh No. 2
Virginia Consistory No. 2
The final words of Illustrious Brother Nesbit set the tempo for the new Valley of Alexandria: “It is my hope that all of the Bodies so recently created in this Valley will have prosperity and continuance.”
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