Biltmore Masonic Lodge #446 - The History

History at Biltmore

Early History of Biltmore Lodge No. 446

In preparation for the 1976 Bicentennial celebrations being held nationwide to celebrate our nation’s 200 years of freedom the Grand Lodge of North Carolina solicited from each Lodge a history. Worshipful Brother (WB) Claud N. Waldrop, with the help of others, compiled a history of Biltmore Lodge.  His opening lines stated the following:

“After sanction from Mr. George W. Vanderbilt for operation of a lodge, on what is now known as the Biltmore Estate, approval was sought from Mount Hermon Lodge No. 118 and Asheville Lodge No. 410 to create a lodge under dispensation.  Ten Brothers from Mount Hermon Lodge No. 118, several from Kidron Lodge, and one each from New York, South Carolina, and Georgia demitted from their home lodges to become charter members of Biltmore Lodge.  The dispensation was issued by M. W. Grand Master, Bro. H. A. Gudger, a citizen of Asheville. The following brethren constituted the lodge officers: Rev. D. B. Nelson, Worshipful Master; Bro. A. S. Whitaker, Senior Warden; Bro. J. M. Brookshire, Junior Warden.”
The first meeting was held on March 24, 1891. The meeting was held in a building on the Biltmore Estate at the west end of Lodge Street. The building was located near the current Biltmore Estate Lodge Gate.   It was in this first meeting that the brethren assembled decided to meet on the first and third Tuesday nights at Eight PM. The first petition received by Biltmore Lodge was from Mr. G. W. McCarty, on March 31, 1891. He was 21 years old, and a stone cutter by trade. The fee for each degree was five dollars.

On June 2, 1891, Biltmore Lodge was honored with a visit from the M. W. Grand Master of Masons of the State of North Carolina, Bro. H. A. Gudger. Bro. Gudger addressed the brethren there assembled with a speech, which even today, we can apply. He counseled the lodge officers and members “to be watchful and careful to live up to all the teachings of the order, both in and out of Lodge, to be extremely cautious that in our zeal for an increased membership, we should carefully guard our inner door that no unworthy person be admitted, giving discredit to our Lodge, our Order, or ourselves as individual members, to press onward and upward, guarding each step.”

The brethren of Biltmore Lodge were dedicated to the work of the order. In order that the degrees be as impressive as possible, they met each week before a degree to practice. During the first year, while under dispensation, degree work was conducted at most every meeting, and for this reason, we find in the minutes that the brethren met every week to practice. At many meetings during the year, the Lodge held two separate degrees in one evening. Interest in Masonry was high, and the Lodge worked hard to meet the need.

The Lodge progressed well during the dispensation period. Degree work was conducted at most every communication, and the membership grew steadily. In December of 1891, a committee was appointed to adopt a set of by-laws to be sent to the Grand Lodge as the “Code of By-laws”. From the minutes of the communication on January 5, 1892, the following is found:

“Motion was made by J. M. Brookshire with M. L. Reed as second, was adopted to send by the hand of Bro. D. B. Nelson as representation, the Lodge records and petition to the Grand Lodge for charter, together with dispensation to the Grand Lodge which would hold its regular communication on January 12, 1892 with necessary fees for charter and seal and that the expenses of the representative be paid by the Lodge was adopted. Motion by Bro. C. Whitaker that the election of officers of the Lodge be held on the anniversary of St. John the Baptist in June 1892 was adopted.”
The charter which created Biltmore Lodge No. 446 A. F. & A. M. was issued on January 13, 1892 (the Masonic year of 5892). The first communication held under the charter was on February 9, 1892. The Lodge was opened in due form on the third degree of Masonry. It was announced that the Grand Master of Mason’s of the State of North Carolina, Worshipful Brother H. A. Gudger was about to enter. Grand Master Gudger installed the following officers:


D. B. Nelson         Master                   T. J. Reed                              Senior Deacon

A. S. Whitaker      Senior Warden      J. A. Brookshire    Junior Deacon

J. M. Brookshire   Junior Warden       J. W. Furman        Steward

C. R. Whitaker      Treasurer               T. F. Creasman      Steward

D. F Hendon         Secretary                James Reece         Tyler
After the ceremonies, Bro. John A. Nichols who acted as Marshall, assisted the Grand Master in Proclaiming Biltmore Lodge No. 446 duly and regularly constituted to work.

The Lodge meeting site moved over the years but remained on the Estate property.  In 1916, the Lodge moved into a building owned by the Vanderbilt family in the Biltmore Village and remained there until 1928.  During this year the Lodge moved into a purpose built room on the second floor of the McGeachy Building located on the west side of the Plaza in Biltmore Village.  They remained there until 1954.  Biltmore Lodge purchased the Biltmore Methodist Church building located at the corner of St. Paul and Summit Streets overlooking the village.  The first meeting to be held in the new Lodge hall was on September 7, 1954.  Most of the evening was devoted to the praise of the new facility.  The Lodge building was dedicated on November 23, 1954.  Several speakers were present that evening.

Biltmore Lodge continues to meet every Tuesday night in this same building.  A full history can be obtained from the lodge by contacting the web master.