Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Prince Hall was a man. Prince Hall Masonic Building is on Auburn Avenue

I never thought I'd see inside of Prince Hall Masonic Building on Auburn Avenue. I've been driving by for decades. It always caught my eye just two blocks west of Ebenezer Baptist Church. And I always thought it was Prince Hall, as in a "hall" named prince. Really! I had no idea until a few weeks ago. Was I the last person to find out?

 This building contained the headquarters of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Ralph David Abernathy, Sr. worked here.

On the Old Fourth Ward Tour of Homes tour map it was just "300 Auburn Avenue," a modest caption for an important place. Thanks to the tour I can show you a little bit of the inside. 

Prince Hall Mosaic Building, 1937, designed by Charles Hopson and Ross Howard.

First: Prince Hall was a person.
"Prince Hall (c.1735 – December 7, 1807),was an African American noted as a tireless abolitionist, for his leadership in the free black community in Boston, and as the founder of Prince Hall Masonry. - Wikipedia

A bit about the building.

There's a daylight terrace level, two office floors, the masonic lodge is on the 3rd floor.

You enter the building proper from Auburn Avenue. This is the lobby / stair tower / elevator lobby looking out to the  main entrance on Auburn Avenue.

Though empty now the first floor was SCLC Heaquarters until 2007. Dr. Martin Luther King's office was in this space, roughly where these folks are standing. For security reasons Dr. King's office didn't have a window. Vann Hall (dark blue shirt) gave the SCLC tour. He worked there back in the day.


Sweet Auburn.

The second floor housed working offices. We didn't tour there.

I wasn't prepared for third floor, for the masonic lodge.


It has terrific proportions, arched ceiling, clerestory windows, classical detailing. But it's not precious, not fragile. Folks have been meeting there for decades and you could sense that.

This is a space that makes people feel important, my favorite kind of room.

Enjoy this 360 look:

What are these things:

P1120062-2012-09-18-O4W- Prince-Hall-Masons-Lodge-yellow-brick-detail-Exterior-detail-motif-bw
I don't know what you call these rectangles with indented corners but they required interesting brickwork.

The motif  repeats inside the lodge.

Charles H. Hopson (1865 - 1941)
"an important regional architect in Nova Scotia, was born in Reading, England and served an architectural apprenticeship there with Joseph Greenaway from 1880...appears to have left Nova Scotia in early 1903 and moved to Selma, Alabama...he later practised in Pensacola, Fla. and in Atlanta, Georgia." - Biographical Dictionary of Architects in Canada 1850 - 1950

Prince Hall Masonic Building is the 4th Hopson design that I know of in Atlanta. All are favorites of mine.

Rock Springs Presbyterian Church is the design highlight of Piedmont Avenue. don't you think?

The St. Paul's Presbyterian Church steeple on Ponce de Leon has brickwork galore.

Peachtree Christian Church is an Atlanta Landmark, and that's just the outside.


  1. Never too old to learn. Knowledge is power. Fantastic.
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  2. John Wesley Dobbs built this building. He was the Grand Master of the Prince Hall Masons for 30 years until his death in 1961. On Auburn Ave., they called him "The Grand."


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