Grand Chapter

Royal Arch Masonry will be the place where brothers from different masonic backgrounds can come together to enjoy comradeship, learn leadership and planning skills, experience meaningful and well-presented rituals, and have a positive impact on their blue lodges and local communities.

The Grand Chapter of the District of Columbia was founded in 1867.


On 23 May 1867, the Grand Lodge and the fraternity of Freemasons in the District of Columbia celebrated the day as marking a new era in Capitular Masonry in the District of Columbia.  The Commanderies of Washington No.1 and Columbia No.2 of Knights Temples were called out in escort of the Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of the District of Columbia to Wall’s Opera House on its most historic day.Arriving from Charleston, South Carolina, M:.E:.C:. Albert G. Mackey, the immediate Past General Grand High Priest, performed the ceremonies to consecrate and constitute the Grand Chapter and install the first Grand Chapter Officers, while R:.E:.C:. Benjamin B. French, Past General Grand Secretary, acted as Master of Ceremonies.  By the end of the day, the following officers had been elected and installed:M:.E:.C:. James E.F. Holmead, Grand High Priest
R:.E:.C:. Lewis G. Stephens, Deputy Grand High Priest
R:.E:.C:. Charles W. Hancock, Grand King
R:.E:.C:. William Middletown, Grand Scribe
R:.E:.C:. Noble D. Larner, Grand Secretary
R:.E:.C:. Chauncey Smith, Grand TreasurerFrom 1867 to the present day, the Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons has been blessed with an infused spirit and drive of its Grand High Priest and supporting Grand Chapter Officers.  Far too many accomplishments have been recorded in the annals of time to list them all here.  Nevertheless, in recognition of the extraordinary trust instilled in them by the entire Order of Royal Arch Masons in service to the General Grand Chapter, the following Most Excellent Companions from the Grand Chapter of the District of Columbia are noted in honor of their timeless contributions:M:.E:.C:. Benjamin B. French
Grand High Priest 1850 – 1855 and 1869 – 1870
General Grand Secretary 1850 – 1859
Grand Master of Masons 1847 – 1853 and 1868
4 September 1800 – 24 May 1870M:.E:.C:. James E.F. Holmead
Grand High Priest 1867 – 1869
Grand Master of Masons 1864 – 1864
13 August 1835 – 19 October 1876

M:.E:.C:. Noble Dansforth Larner
General Grand High Priest 1886 – 1889
Grand High Priest 1874 – 1875
Grand Master of Masons 1881 – 1882
9 January 1830 – 19 March 1903

M:.E:.C:. George Edgar Corson
Grand High Priest 1886
General Grand High Priest 1915 – 1918
30 July 1842 – 1921

At the time the Grand Chapter of the District of Columbia was organized in 1867, the three Royal Arch Chapters (Columbia No.1, Washington No.2 and Mount Vernon No.3) had a total combined membership of 424 companions.  In May of the same year, 74 new Companions were exalted bringing the total membership at the close of 1867 to 498 members.    By the end of the 1898 Capitular Year, the Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of the District of Columbia had chartered eight (8) additional chapters to 11 constituent chapters, and a total membership of 2,204 companions.  Continuing a gradual increase of members and chapters, the Grand Chapter of the District of Columbia reached a peak of 6,611 members laboring in 15 Royal Arch Chapters by the close of the 1924 Capitular Year.

Regrettably, the strength of growth could not be maintained as the continuing expansion of Federal, local and international government offices developed much of the remaining land area causing more and more prospective candidates to live outside the boundary limits of the District of Columbia.  Today, the strength of membership in the Grand Chapter is relatively stable at 800 companions working in eight chapters – five (5) D.C. York Rite Chapters and two (2) Emulation Chapters (English and Scottish), along with one (1) specialty Chapter. Fortunately, the District of Columbia shares amiable relationships with the Grand Chapters of Virginia and Maryland, allowing many residents of those Jurisdictions to labor as Royal Arch Masons for the District of Columbia.