Dunn's Rock Lodge, though not officially chartered until 1867, had its
beginning several years earlier in the fraternity of men who became Masons
on the battlefields of the Civil war. Passed down through the membership,
this bit of lodge prehistory says that the idea of the lodge originated
when Transylvania volunteers in the Confederate armies became Masons in
military lodges of the North Carolina regiments, and began envisioning the
local lodge they would found after the war. Following Appomattox, these
Masons of the armies of Lee and Johnson, returned home in the dark days of
the Reconstruction and immediately began laying their plans. They met in
the open under the protecting ledge of Dunn's Rock, a huge rock outcrop
overlooking the French Broad River valley. Because this was their first
meeting place, and because Dunn's Rock was a historical landmark even
then, it was chosen as the name of their lodge.
There were, no doubt, many discussions around battlefield campfires, but
serious talk of the local lodge can be dated from, mid-1865 with the first
returning home of these soldier Masons, and the meetings below the rock.
These were not lodge meetings; they were simply meetings of Masons. But
the outgrowth was the lodge that was officially charted two years later
and ever since has been Dunn's Rock Lodge No. 267, A.F. & A.M., Brevard.
Dunn's Rock Lodge first met as a lodge is 1866, operating under
dispensation. Its charter was granted several months later on December
4,1867. At this time, Brevard was only a crossroads settlement in the
rugged mountain back county of western North Carolina. It consisted of a
few rude buildings on a heavily wooded promontory crossed roughly
north-south by the Asheville-Cherryfield Turnpike and a road leading
southeast to Jones Gap and South Carolina. Even the county of Transylvania
was new. It had been founded from parts of Henderson and Jackson Counties
in 1861. Founding of Brevard, the county seat, had been delayed by the
Civil War and it was not incorporated until 1868. Thus the lodge is one
year older than Brevard and only six years younger than Transylvania
The first lodge building was under Dunn's Rock near the site now marked by
a historical marker, erected by local Masons, in the southwest corner of
the intersection of Island Ford Road and U.S. Highway 276, about two miles
south of Brevard.
An interesting sidelight of the early lodge meetings held there after the
charter was granted, is that these gatherings were often family socials as
well as lodge meetings. According to handed down memories of early lodge
officers and members, the wives and children accompanied the men and met
below the rock. While the men sat in the lodge, they talked and played and
fished in the French Broad River. Then, after the lodge meeting there were
picnics where, no doubt, fresh fish and cornbread were prominent on the
menu. This is, possibly, the origin of the traditional, public fish
suppers that are still a major fund raising activity of the Brevard Lodge.
The first Worshipful Master of Dunn's Rock was S.V. Pickens, an attorney
of Hendersonville. A member of Mount Hermon Lodge, No.118, Asheville, Mr.
Pickens had been asked to help organize the Brevard Lodge. He not only
assisted prominently in the organization, but also demitted from Mount
Hermon and moved his membership to Brevard, where he served two terms as
Thomas L. Gash was the first Senior Warden and second W.M. It is from his
recollections, years later, that many historical sidelights of the early
days have been preserved. Many other men whose names are prominent in the
history of Brevard and Transylvania County were early members and officers
of the lodge, but their inclusion must wait the publication of a more
comprehensive lodge history.
YEARS OF GROWTH
During the years that followed the founding of Dunn's Rock Lodge, Brevard
grew rapidly from the original few stores and houses into a thriving
agricultural town. The lodge grew also, and meetings were moved from the
cramped space in the old building under the rock to a hall in town.
Then the railroad came to Brevard, with the first train arriving in 1894,
and a mild building boom following in 1899. In 1903 the railroad was
extended through Rosman to Lake Toxaway where developers had built the
Lake Toxaway Hotel on a newly made lake in the area that was soon to
become nationally famous as a recreation area for the very rich and
famous. Joseph S. Silversteen, a brother Mason and later a member of
Dunn's Rock lodge, brought forestry products industry to Rosman, nine
miles west of Brevard, and Transylvania County began the combination of
residential recreational attractions and industry for which it is still
"TO BUILD A TEMPLE"
The first rental quarters in Brevard proved inadequate and the lodge
moved, as it was to do several times in the fifty years that followed.
Meeting where space could be found, the Masons saw the town and county
continue to grow and the nation become a world power, weather World War I,
and move into the 1920's. But toward the end of this period, with the
membership grown from a handful to 152, the necessity became evident and a
strong desire began to be expressed for a permanent home for the lodge.
In 1926, with the lodge 59 years old, a start toward a permanent home was
made. At that time, the lodge was meeting in the space above what was Gaither's
Restaurant on North Broad Street (which is now Bracken Mountain Bakery). Meeting there, the
members made plans to launch a subscription drive "to build a temple or
try to find a more suitable meeting space. Dr. U. Summey, then Worshipful
Master, appointed a building committee of which were himself, Dr. S.F.
Zachary and E,W. Stanbery.
Progress was slow. Nevertheless, the next several months were spent in
searching for a suitable property on which to build; and, at a meeting it
1927, the membership voted to acquire a lot on Jordan Street, The purchase
price was $15OO.OO.
While money was being raised for building, the lodge had a committee
looking for a better meeting place to be occupied as temporary quarters.
The search extended through the beginning and early part of the Great
Depression of the 1930's and ended in 1933 when space in the Erwin and
Ramseur building was leased. The lodge moved there and the first meeting
has held July 14, 1933.
Few people could spare money in the hard times of the depression, so the
plan for building had to be put off. But in 1938, with times beginning to
improve, another effort was begun. The lodge membership, fired by the
enthusiasm of a Brother A.H. Harris. a former Mayor of Brevard, approved
and the, then, Worshipful Master Leon English, Jr. appointed a Ways and
Means Committee strictly charged with the task of finding ways and means
of financing and building a Masonic Temple. At the time, the lodge was
considering a building that could he built for $6000.00.
A fund raising effort was carried out over the next five years. But since
the period saw such national uncertainty and finally the entry of the U.S.
in World War II, progress was again slow. Nevertheless, building plans
were prepared by Brothers A. Keith Pooser and R. F. Bennett, and were
approved by the membership on December 9, 1943. In the meantime, a better
location for the temple had been found and purchased
the present site on East Main Street. The first lot was sold.
World War II ended and fund raising continued. And finally, in early 1950,
the treasurer was able to report a sound enough financial position to
began construction. Ground was broken in April and the first payroll
check, lodge records show, was issued on May 5, 1950.
The first meeting, in the still far from finished temple, was held on June
26,1951. The cost of building up to that time, was in excess of
The next ninety years were spent in a continued effort to complete the
temple while in use. Several fund raising drives were carried out with the
last, before dedication, under the direction of the Transylvania Shrine
Club, called the "Temple Completion Project. With funds raised through
this and other drives, the dining room was finished and the heating system
The temple was dedicated on August12, 1960. The lodge was then 93 years
old and the temple was the crowning achievement of 34 years of dedicated
108 YEARS OF GROWTH
Through the 1960's, the membership continued to grow. In the early 1970's
the decision was made to add a new front to the temple with Greek columns,
an appearance more appropriate and more beautiful, and to install central
air conditioning for the comfort of the members. The work was completed in
1975 at the cost of $32,000.00,
Now Dunn's Rock Lodge is at home in one of the finest and most comfortable
temples in the country. It is estimated that the building. if built today
would cost $750,000.00. With a membership of 208 members, the lodge can be
proud of over a century of growth in both Masonry and its position in a
progressive community , growth that began 108 years ago with a few soldier
Masons meeting under Dunn's Rock.