Efforts underway to repair Wilmington’s first African-American masonic lodge
WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - As Wilmington grows, holding onto its past is becoming more difficult.
Built in 1871, Giblem Lodge was Wilmington’s first African-American Masonic Lodge. Isabelle Shepherd with the Historic Wilmington Foundation explains why the building is an important part of black history in the Port City.
“We’re left with few touchstones in our built landscape that represent the strength and success of the Wilmington black community during the Reconstruction Era,” Shepherd said.
Shepherd says the lodge was a symbol of Black culture and education before the 1898 massacre.
“Unfortunately, after the coup of 1898, it lost members, it lost funding, and kind of fell out of as much use,” she said. “It was then used during Jim Crow as the city’s Black library, but after that point is where we start to see the structure falling out of general use.”
The lodge on Princess Street fell into a state of disrepair since the mid-1900s, but efforts are underway to bring Giblem Lodge into the 21st century.
“It’s our belief that once this building is rehabilitated, it will go on to serve the community once more as a revitalized center for Black history and culture,” said Shepherd.
The Historic Wilmington Foundation is working with other groups to collect funding to repair the building. The hope is to give it back to the people of southeastern North Carolina.
“The vision for Gibson Lodge is to take it back to its original use and purpose which was to support the community,” said Shepherd.
The community looks to hold on to a vital piece of history.
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