On a near perfect second day of summer, over sixty (60) Masons from lodges in eastern New Hampshire and officers of the Grand Lodge of New Hampshire joined St. John’s Lodge No. 1 in Portsmouth in its annual St. John’s Sunday observance. St. John’s Lodge No. 1, the oldest continuous operating lodge in the Americas, has for many years celebrated St. John’s Sunday by marching to and attending services at St. John’s Episcopal Church on Chapel Street in Portsmouth. Both St. John’s Church and St. John’s lodge are deeply interwoven into the history of Portsmouth with the church being founded in 1732, and the Lodge in 1736. Many of Portsmouth’s prominent citizens of the Colonial-Revolutionary period, including the N.H. colony’s Royal Governor, Benning Wentworth, were associated with both.
In the mid-1760s St. John’s Lodge held its stated meetings on the third floor of the William Pitt Tavern on Court Street (less than a quarter of a mile from Queen’s Chapel). In 1789 the Grand Lodge of New Hampshire was chartered in the same third floor Lodge room. Today, in recognition of the Tavern’s importance to the roots of masonry in New Hampshire, the march to Saint John’s church begins and ends at the Tavern. Grand Lodge also opens in the tavern’s lodge room shortly before the procession “steps-off”. A new “tradition” started two years ago by the Masonic museum staff continued this year: serving coffee and doughnuts before the march.
After the return march, participants and their families were welcomed to a barbeque at the Portsmouth Masonic temple hosted by St. John’s Lodge No. 1. In coordination with St. Johns Sunday activities taking part in the western part of the state at Cathedral In The Pines in Ringe, N.H., Officers of the Grand Lodge of New Hampshire closed Grand Lodge later that afternoon at the Portsmouth Masonic Temple.