Are you familiar with this building?  It is Prince Hall and it is located at 3720 5th Street in Rock Island.  Built in 1927, it was a retirement home for Black Masons and was named Price Hall after the father of Black Masonry.

Black Masonry began in America at the time of the Revolutionary War when fourteen free black men formed Lodge 441 in Boston.  As settlement moved west, so did Black Masonry.  As members aged, retirement homes were established.  The first home in Illinois was in Chicago, but retirees wished to live in a more rural setting.  Henry Burris, a Rock Island mail carrier, mortgaged his own home for the down payment on 4.5 acres along the Rock River that would become the peaceful retirement home they sought.

In 1927 an estimated five thousand people from around the state attended the dedication of the $92,000 Prince Hall designed as a home for both Masons and Eastern Star women.  Newspaper articles through the years documented the significant roll Prince Hall played in our community.  A perfect example: an article in the Rock Island Argus on April 29, 1965  describing Dr. Martin Luther King’s visit to Prince Hall.

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