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Rockingham Union Lodge No. 27, A.F. and A.M. Collection

Identifier: SC 0177
  • Not requestable

  • Staff Only

Scope and Content

The Rockingham Union Lodge No. 27 A.F. and A.M. Collection is comprised of photocopies and scans of items removed from an 8”x10”x6” copper plated box in the cornerstone of the Masonic Temple at 114 S. Main Street in Harrisonburg, Virginia on November 28, 2006. Documents include a 20”x37” broadside advertising the laying of the 1860 cornerstone, photocopies of handwritten or typed lists of items to have been included in the cornerstone in 1860 and 1905, as well as a program, speech, and lists of officers, Lodge members, and members of the Ladies Masonic Association.

The collection contains pamphlets and small publications, including photocopies of by-laws of Rockingham Union Lodge No. 27 and the Royal Arch Chapter No. 6; addresses; and programs pertaining to the Lodge’s centennial in 1889, the laying of the cornerstone of the Lodge in 1905, and for the cornerstone of the Rockingham County Court House in 1896.

The collection contains ephemera, such as photocopies of coins and currency, blank membership forms, a calendar, and other items of interests. The collection includes images of the following currencies: 1853 one dollar gold coin; 1857 silver half-dime; 1858 silver half-dollar; 1858 flying eagle one cent piece; 1858 silver three cent piece; 1859 silver quarter dollar; 1860 silver dime; 1861 gold-plated one cent piece; 1899 copper one cent piece; 1900 French copper 10 centime piece on fob of Thomas L. Williamson; 1902 five cent piece; and an undated three cent piece, and Confederate paper currency.

Newspapers primarily consists of photocopies and scans from 1860, 1905, and 1906, some of which are quite rare. The issues of the Virginia Citizen, Valley Democrat, Spirit of the Valley, and Harrisonburg Free Press may be the only extant issues for those dates. The September 6, 1905 editions of the Harrisonburg Daily News were found on top of the copper box in the cornerstone, as the box was sealed on September 5th.


  • Creation: 1847-1905


Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research. Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection. Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the James Madison University Special Collections Library to use this collection.

Use Restrictions

The copyright interests in this collection have been transferred to the James Madison University Special Collections Library. For more information, contact the Special Collections Library Reference Desk. (

Bio/Historical Note

The Rockingham Union Lodge No. 27 was charted on October 29, 1789. Many original lodge members had Masonic roots in England, Ireland, and Scotland prior to the establishment of a Grand Lodge in the New World. In 1777, delegates from several lodges in Virginia met to discuss establishing a Grand Lodge in the United States. As a result, the Grand Lodge of Virginia thus became the first Grand Lodge of Masonry in North America.

The first meeting place was reputedly at the residence of William Cravens, although there is some question as to whether Cravens ever actually owned a home in Harrisonburg. Some time after Cravens’ death in 1793, there was talk of constructing a Masonic Temple. In 1795 a building committee was appointed to take charge of this task. A lot was purchased at the corner of Federal Alley and East Market Street and constructed soon thereafter. The first meeting at the new Masonic Temple, also known as Mason’s Hall, was held on July 14, 1796.

By 1860, membership had grown enough to warrant a new temple. In February of that year, an agreement was made to exchange lots with D.H. Gambill, who owned property across East Market Street known as the “Old Stone Church,” with the stipulation that the Lodge would occupy the upper floors of their original building for twelve months. However, the Lodge had the opportunity to purchase a lot from Thomas Yancey a few days later at the corner of South Main and Water Street for $600. The “Old Stone Church” property was advertised for sale, and sold in 1865 to J.R. Jones for $800. On July 4, 1860, a ceremony documenting the laying of the new cornerstone was held, and several items were sealed within it. On April 6, 1861, the new building was dedicated and available for use.

On December 5, 1892, with expansion in mind, the Lodge purchased the lot across the street, occupied by the Revere Hotel. Membership continued to grow, so by 1903 plans were made to demolish the hotel and construct a new temple on the hotel site, the cost of which was $18,000. The cornerstone from the old temple was opened and the contents removed. On September 5, 1905, during a ceremony for the laying of the new cornerstone, more items were added to the original collection and sealed. On December 27, 1906, the new temple at 114 South Main Street was ready to occupy.

On October 28, 2006, the cornerstone of Rockingham Union Lodge #27 was opened during renovations of the century-old building. A public banquet was held on December 4, 2006, during which the cornerstone’s contents were displayed. The Lodge gave permission to allow the contents to be photocopied and scanned for research use. As of December 2006, the Lodge had not yet determined whether the original contents will be returned to the cornerstone after renovations are complete.


0.59 cubic feet (1 box)

0.27 Gigabytes (23 digital files)

Language of Materials



The Rockingham Union Lodge No. 27, A.F. and A.M. Collection, 1847-1905, is comprised of photocopies and digital images of pamphlets, newspapers, coins, broadsides and other records of the Rockingham Union Lodge No. 27, removed from the cornerstone of Rockingham Union Lodge No.27 located at 114 South Main Street, Harrisonburg, on November 28th 2006.


The collection is comprised of 13 folders, arranged in no particular order. Items are described at the item-level, and are further arranged alphabetically by document title.

Acquisition Information

Items were made available for digitization and photocopying by the Rockingham Union Lodge No. 27 A.F. & A.M., December 2006, and then returned to donor.

Location of Originals

The original materials are retained by the donor.

Other Formats Available

Newspaper clippings and the 1860 Broadside were scanned and are available as digital files.


Physical Description

1 flat box [17" x 10.5" x 1.75"]13 folders

Processing Information

Newspapers and the Broadside were scanned on an Epson Expression 10000XL as tiff files (7003x4916 pixels) in May 2007 by Julia Merkel. Additionally, photographs of items within the collection, and the copper box were made by SC staff and are included in the digital files.

The cornerstone also contained seven publications that were retained by Rockingham Union Lodge No. 27 and not photocopied or scanned. They include The Daily Scripture Expositor (New York: American Tract Society, 1840); The Holy Bible (New York: American Bible Society, 1858); Proceedings of the 127th Grand Annual Communication of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Virginia (Richmond: Wm. Ellis Jones, 1905); Proceedings of the Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of Virginia. (Petersburg: Frank A. Owen, 1904); Proceedings of the Grand Commandery of Knights Templar of Virginia (Petersburg: Frank A. Owen, 1904); Proceedings of the Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Virginia (Richmond: James E. Goode, 1859); Proceedings of an Occasional Grand Lodge of Va (Richmond: Chas. H. Wynne, 1859).

In order to streamline the process of applying collection numbers, Special Collections staff completed a large-scale renumbering campaign in the spring of 2017. This collection was previously cataloged as SC 4052. In 2019 the collection was minimally reprocessed; scanned documents were converted to jpeg and pdf files for access copies.

A Guide to the Rockingham Union Lodge No. 27, A.F. and A.M. Collection, 1847-1905
In Progress
Julia Merkel and Tracy Harter, Sarah Roth-Mullet
April 2019
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2013-11-21: Converted to schema conforming EAD by dtd2schema.vh.xsl.
  • 2019-04-08: Updated by Sarah Roth-Mullet

Repository Details

Part of the James Madison University Libraries Special Collections Repository

820 Madison Drive
MSC 1706
Harrisonburg Virginia 22807
(540) 568-3612