Masonry has been an integral part of California for more than 150 years. During the Gold Rush of 1849, thousands of settlers came to California in search of fortune. Many of these men were Masons and brought with them Masonic values and traditions. Not surprisingly, some of California’s first Masonic lodges were established in the mining towns of the Gold Country. In 1850–the same year that California became a state–the Grand Lodge of California was established in Sacramento. Jonathan Drake Stevenson, a military commander in the Mexican-American War, was our first grand master.
California Masons have played a key role in shaping the history of California. To date, nineteen California governors have been Masons, and at least four California Masons have been elected to the U.S. Senate. Among our many notable members are Thomas Starr King, an abolitionist, pacifist, and former California grand orator; Earl Warren, past grand master and former U.S. Supreme Court chief justice; Steve Wozniak, cofounder of Apple Computers; Chuck Williams of Williams-Sonoma; and famed actors Roy Rogers, Audie Murphy, Ernest Borgnine, and Clark Gable.
Today, California Masonry is known for its emphasis on diversity and innovation. We represent the entire spectrum of Californians–men of good character and faith of all races, color, religious beliefs, political views, sexual orientation, physical ability, citizenship, or national origin. Our lodges work in English, Spanish, French, and Armenian. We are a proud past host of the World Conference of Regular Masonic Grand Lodges and we regularly represent our jurisdiction at annual communications of fellow Grand Lodges throughout the world. Biennial conferences in Northern and Southern California draw Masonic scholars from throughout the world to share diverse perspectives of Freemasonry. Our Grand Lodge is currently in a period of expansion. Since 2015, we have welcomed fifteen new lodges throughout the state in areas that were previously underserved by Freemasonry.
As the home of Silicon Valley, we employ current technology tools and trends to keep our Grand Lodge vibrant and innovative. We were an early adopter of social media as a tool to connect brothers throughout the world. Today, we provide technical support to members and lodges with tools such as a lodge app, website templates, digital records storage, automated accounting services, online candidate education materials, webinars and other remote course offerings, and convenient, best-practice business tools.
Philanthropy is a treasured hallmark of our fraternity. We provide quality care to our Masonic family members in need through the Masonic Homes of California, which includes residential senior living; senior shared housing; statewide outreach services; information, referral, and case management; and innovative integrated treatment for youth struggling with psychological, behavioral, and academic challenges. We sustain community partnerships with organizations that support abused children, public education, and other initiatives close to heart. Our current partnership with literacy leader Raising A Reader will bring greatly needed early literacy skills to thousands of vulnerable children and families throughout California.
For more than 168 years, California Masons have worked to lift up our members and communities through our shared values of brotherly love, relief, and truth. Learn more about us at freemason.org.