About Us

About Us 2016-12-11T09:44:16+00:00

We are Philanthropic Lodge #168 of the Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of Maryland.  We are a part of the oldest global fraternal organization in the history of mankind.   We are Freemasons.  We are Brothers.

As we journey through the vast learning opportunities Freemasonry has to offer, we awaken our minds and open our eyes to the light cast by the wisdoms of ancient history.  We study operative and symbolic masonry back to the building of King Solomon’s Temple.  We focus on the virtues of our actions which shine upon truth, relief and brotherly love.   We are immersed in tradition.  We are good men bonding to be synergistically greater than our own individual potential.  Ultimately, we seek to delight the all-seeing watchful eye of our creator, the supreme architect of the universe as He takes measure of our actions.

Freemasonry has been an integral part of the formation and building of the United States of America.  The history of this great country comes alive within us as we learn new things about how it began.  We continuously educate each other on how to be better men from the exact same ancient traditions, rites and lessons that our country’s founding fathers experienced.  We are patriots to the country in which we live.

So, what is unique about Philanthropic Lodge #168?

Answer: We are steadfast, true and have performed the same for many generations.

According to the annals of Freemasonry and the History of Western Maryland published in 1882, a Masonic Lodge in New Market, Maryland was one of the oldest lodges in the State of Maryland[1].  It was “the first lodge of Freemasons in Western Maryland”[2] and it dates back to a period preceding the American Revolution of 1776[3].  It was originally affiliated with one of the two English grand lodges erected in Pennsylvania during the 18th century.

The first recordation of Masonic lodge meetings in the area were those being held in a farm dwelling-house called the “Brick House” or “Manfred” located on Detrick Road a few miles east of New Market.    It was owned by John Dorsey, Jr who was granted over 2,300 acres of land from Lord Baltimore.

The original section of the house was built in 1748[4].  At the top of the stairs on the second floor is the “Masonic Room”. The room was a popular meeting place for Masons in the 18th century.  In 1813, the farm was gifted to John Dorsey’s Great Granddaughter Cordelia and her newlywed husband William Downey, Sr. [5]

The Manfred Masonic room features hand-carved wooden arches and a mantel.  While referenced in earlier recording as existing, sometime around our nation’s Bicentennial in 1976, the then owners discovered that above the mantel Masonic symbols were believed to have been painted in the early 1770’s.  Circa 1825-1830, the Masonic symbols were covered by an artistic painting of a city view scene, part of which survives in damaged condition today. The city depicted may be Boston.  This was a sensitive period in Masonic history which caused all but one lodge in Frederick County to forfeit their charters from about 1830 to 1842[6].     Philanthropic Lodge, No. 50, was last represented in The Grand Lodge of Maryland in 1820[7].

Later in the 1800’s as Freemasonry rebounded, there were not enough members of the original lodge to be found in order to resurrect the lodge under its original lodge number 50.  On Jan. 14, 1874, dispensation was granted by The Grand Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of Maryland to form a new lodge under its jurisdiction in New Market.  It was granted to some familiar names in Maryland history and with lineage to some of the original lodge #50 members – William Downey (son of William Downey, Sr), Geo. E. Talbott, Hamilton Steir, Thomas P. Mullinix, Dr. H. H. Hopkins, William R. Dorsey, Dr. Jesse W. Downey, Henry S. Lansdale, and D. W. Duvall.     The successor lodge kept the name Philanthropic, but took on lodge number 168 when re-chartered on the 12th of May, 1874[8].


William Downey [9]

The building located at 19 West Main Street, New Market, Maryland in which we hold lodge meetings twice a month, predates the American Civil War.  Built circa 1840 by the International Order of Odd Fellows, Philanthropic Lodge #168 has continuously met in this building since it began renting the facility for $4 per month beginning on April 1, 1874.

In 1944, The Grand Lodge of Maryland of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows conveyed the property to K. Ann Selby, Olive W. Sponseller, Evelyn M. Trimble, Laura S. Roop and Alverta Falconer as the Trustees of the New Market Social Club.  Philanthropic #168 rented the facility from the Social Club until August 28, 1959 when the surviving Trustees conveyed the building and property to Philanthropic #168’s holding company for the consideration of $10.  Numerous generations of the Trustees have since held the office of the Worshipful Master of the Lodge and continue to attend lodge meetings today.  We benefit from their wisdom and their incredible knowledge of Freemasonry and of Freemasonry in Maryland.

We feel blessed to be a part of a brotherhood that has transcended mankind’s peril, tribulations and triumphs spanning the past 238 years of our nation’s history and beyond.  Philanthropic Lodge #168 is very unique, a special place to meet, and a special place to begin one’s Masonic journey.

Next Steps

We do not actively recruit members.  We are neither a secret organization with nefarious intent nor conspirators with a political or religious agenda. We are an organization of protected rites and learnings so that they are not abused or used by others for nefarious purposes.  We are open to all who believe in Deity – a Supreme Being.  As is our beloved and honored country, we are a “melting pot” of brothers from many religions and ethnicities.  We are founded upon the principles of Faith, Hope and Charity.  You must have the desire in your heart to be a part of something that has indeed been a part of history, protects its traditions, and strives to help our fellow mankind.

Therefore, if you believe in Deity, you are a good man of the finest moral character, of good and lawful standing, willing to be accepting of and loyal to our traditions, willing to hold yourself to a higher standard, and 18 years of age or older, you may be a candidate.  All you need to do to begin your journey is ask a Freemason to show you the way.  For details, click on “How do I become a Freemason?”.  You can also contact us at newmarketlodge168@gmail.com.

[1] Ed Waters Jr., Bicentennial Supplement to the Frederick Md. News Post (Frederick: Frederick News Post, June 4, 1976)

[2] Ed Waters Jr., Bicentennial Supplement to the Frederick Md. News Post (Frederick: Frederick News Post, June 4, 1976)

[3] Individual Property/District, Maryland Historical Trust, Internal NR Eligibility Review Form signed 2/6/97

[4] J. Thomas Scharf, History of Western Maryland, Volume I (Philadelphia: Louis H. Everts, 1882), 610

[5] J. Thomas Scharf, History of Western Maryland, Volume I (Philadelphia: Louis H. Everts, 1882), 610

[6] J. Thomas Scharf, History of Western Maryland, Volume I (Philadelphia: Louis H. Everts, 1882), 548

[7] J. Thomas Scharf, History of Western Maryland, Volume I (Philadelphia: Louis H. Everts, 1882), 608

[8] J. Thomas Scharf, History of Western Maryland, Volume I (Philadelphia: Louis H. Everts, 1882), 536

[9] J. Thomas Scharf, History of Western Maryland, Volume I (Philadelphia: Louis H. Everts, 1882), 608