Freemasonry in New York began in the colonial era, with most lodges operating under the provincial jurisdictions of Grand Lodges in England, Scotland and Ireland. The Grand Lodge of New York was established under the “Atholl Warrant,” declared on September 5, 1781, following the end of hostilities in the American Revolution. After a period of transition and development, Chancellor Robert R Livingston was installed as Grand Master in 1784, serving until 1801, during which time he administered the oath of office to President and Brother George Washington at the first inaugural at Federal Hall in New York City. The Bible upon which Brother Washington was inaugurated remains the property of St. John’s Lodge № 1, Ancient York Masons, the oldest lodge chartered by the Grand Lodge of New York.
The development of lodges across the state reflects the development of towns and communities moving west. Freemasonry in New York State has traditionally reflected the nature of the diverse populations and ways of life of the Empire State. From the bustling streets of metropolitan New York City, through the tranquil farmlands and orchards of the mid-state region, to the hard-working shores of the Great Lakes and the snow-covered peaks of the Adirondack Mountains, Masonic lodges in New York State unite men from every background into Brothers and friends. Today, the Grand Lodge of New York comprises 39,700 Freemasons in 504 lodges, plus ten additional lodges in the Middle East under the District Grand Lodge of Syria-Lebanon.