The Prince Hall Cemetery, also called the Prince Hall Mystic Cemetery, and the conjoined Masonic Lodge, or Prince Hall, were founded at the inception of our nation. It is named after Prince Hall, a black man who got involved in the word of God and became a popular Methodist Minister around Boston.
A staunch abolitionist, to quell the oppression going on around him, Hall worked to free those who were enslaved within the channels of freemasonry, education and the military. In 1775, he also founded the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Masons where he was named Grand Master. Hall died in 1807.
In 1864, then Grand Master William B. Kendall gave the Gardner Street parcel he purchased in 1856 to his lodge’s Masonic Order. The property was used exclusively as a Masonic burial ground for African Americans, helping greatly to stem the tides of racism in our nation back then. Prince Hall Cemetery is believed to be the only remaining African-American Masonic Cemetery in the entire country. Records indicate that it was used until about 1897 when for unknown reasons, it fell into disuse and as time passed it was forgotten.
In 1987, the Arlington Historical Society re-discovered this lost part of American history and together with the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Dorchester, restored the cemetery. The organization that revitalized it is known as the Prince Hall Mystic Arlington Cemetery Association. It was restored through donations from the Prince Hall Grand Lodge and by the generosity of Arlington through the town’s sharing its Community Development Block Grant funds. In 1990, the cemetery was rededicated. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1998.
Since its restoration, on Memorial Day each year there is a noontime celebration where local Masons honor the dead with a benediction ceremony, presentation of flags, an address and the playing of taps. This features includes remarks by the Grand Matron and other Masonic representatives and has frequently included an address by the president of the Arlington Historical Society. To complete this procession, members of the lodge proceed to the Copps Hill Burying Ground in Boston where Prince Hall is buried to give him one final dedication. The cemetery is the last extant cemetery associated with Prince Hall Masons. It contains a small park with a monument.
Arlington, MA 02474