Florence Gila Valley Lodge No. 9, Free and Accepted Masons, is over 120 years old and is the oldest Masonic body in Pinal County.
Instituted in 1890 by 23 Charter Members, Gila Valley Lodge predates Arizona’s Statehood, making it one of the original 13 Arizona Territory Lodges. As such it is privileged to maintain the “A.T.” [Arizona Territory] designation along side of its name. The Lodge was formally constituted November 12th 1890 under the jurisdiction of the then Grand Master G.W. Cheney.
In addition to being one of the original Arizona Territory Lodges left in the state, Gila Valley Lodge No. 9 (F&AM) also remains the only Lunar Lodge in Arizona.
In times predating the availability of automobiles and electric lighting, Lunar Lodges would meet by the aid of the full moon. This not only provided an easy-to-remember schedule for the members, it also provided light for the ceremonies without fear of eavesdroppers.
It was not uncommon for some members to have traveled by horseback from as far away as Aravaipa on the San Pedro. They could be sure of arriving at meeting time because of the schedule based on the moon, which also provided light for their safe travel. Gila Valley Lodge No. 9 is one of approximately 100 Lunar Lodges nationwide, and remains the only Lunar Lodge west of the Mississippi.
The Hall, reputed to be one of the finest Masonic Halls in Arizona, was constructed at the upper story of the new store building belonging to prominent Merchant and Charter Member F.B. Maldonado.
This remained the meeting place for Gila Valley Lodge No. 9 (F&AM) until a fire gutted the upstairs of the building. The ground floor of which still remains, and for a period of time, was used as the Florence Market. As a result of the fire, much of the historical records where destroyed.
The lodge would later acquire its current building during the 1950’s which was originally built as a World War II military barracks. The building was relocated from its original location on the military base to its current location at 150 S. Main Street and has remained there ever since. It continues to serve as the meeting place for Gila Valley Lodge No. 9 to this day.
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