Our lodge homes:
Belle Point Lodge #20 was chartered on November 15, 1848 when the town of Fort Smith was less than six years old. The Lodge's chosen name has its roots in the name given the prominent bluff at the juncture of the Arkansas and Poteau Rivers by early French traders, La Belle Point.
In its earliest days the Lodge used upper rooms of the officers' quarters in the fort for its meetings. This, and other, fort buildings were burned just before the outbreak of the Civil War. Subsequent to that, attic rooms of the old St. Charles Hotel were used for lodge meetings. Later, rooms on the third floor of the Kennedy Building (predecessor of the Le Flore Hotel) at Sixth Street and Garrison Avenue served as homes for the Lodge.
On December 6, 1889 the Lodge dedicated its first truly Masonic home, the Baer Memorial Masonic Temple, at North 6th and C Streets. This building housed Belle Point as well as other Masonic bodies until it was destroyed by fire on September 4, 1919. Many records from the Lodge's early history were lost in the fire.
In a showing of true fraternal spirit, the Knights of Pythias offered the Masons the use of their hall and equipment. The Lodge met there until a lease could be secured for the third floor of the Progress Club Building. The Lodge met at this location for the next two years.
In 1921 the Lodge purchased an existing building at North 8th and A Streets. After remodeling this location became home to Belle Point on December 27, 1921.
Belle Point and the other Masonic bodies in Fort Smith continued to grow as the town grew,
and in February of 1928 the half-block site at North 11th and B Streets was purchased for the erection of a new Masonic Temple. On September 10, 1929 the current Masonic Temple was first used for meetings. It was officially dedicated by the Grand Lodge of Arkansas on September 16th of that same year.
Throughout Belle Point's history it has been blessed to count community leaders as active members. The Lodge, collectively and through the individual activities of its members, has made, and continues to make, many contributions to the quality of place in Fort Smith and in the state of Arkansas.
Surely the most ambitious undertaking of Belle Point members to date in that regard was the construction of the Children's Building for the treatment of young children at the Arkansas State Tuberculosis Sanatorium.
At the communication (lodge meeting) on December 19, 1922, a motion was brought to the floor by Brother George Tilles (Masons refer to fellow members as brothers) that Belle Point sponsor this effort. The Lodge passed the motion immediately, and further, voted monies to seed the project. A committee consisting of members: James A. Foltz, chairman; George Tilles, vice-chairman; R. L. Secrest, secretary and treasurer; Joseph M. Hill, A. M. Forby, and W. B Nichols, was appointed to oversee this effort to provide Masonic relief. Two years later, and with the assistance of Masons from across the state of Arkansas, the Children's Building was dedicated. Originally built to house thirty six patients and provide administrative and support staff facilities, it was soon expanded by the Masons to meet the needs of sixty two children. The building was used for its intended purpose for nearly 50 years. Gains in treating and preventing tuberculosis led to the eventual closing of the Sanatorium. The buildings are still in use today as the Booneville Human Development Center and they are classified as a historic site.
The Lodge continues its efforts to this day to serve our community.
Belle Point elects its own local lodge officers each year. They consist of the chief officer whom we refer to as the Worshipful Master of the Lodge. He is assisted by a Senior Warden, Junior Warden, Treasurer, Secretary, Senior Deacon, Junior Deacon, Masters of Ceremonies, Tyler, and Chaplain. A list of the current officers
with their contact information is found on the designated page of this website. We also maintain a page listing all of the Past Masters
of Belle Point Lodge.
A brief history of Masonry:
Masonry has a long and storied history that traces its inspirational roots to the builders of the Jewish Temple in the days of King Solomon. The actual roots of what we call our Masonic Order today are believed to date to the craft guilds of the Middle Ages. The earliest confirmed lodges (or groups of organized Masonic brothers) were made up of English and Scottish masons employed in the construction of European cathedrals.
The oldest extant lodge is the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of England which was formed in 1717. The first American grand lodge was organized at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1730. One of its earliest members was Benjamin Franklin.
Other notable American masons have been: the Father of our Country and first U. S. President, George Washington; John Hancock, who was among nine Masonic signers of the Declaration of Independence; Sam Houston, the 2nd and 4th President of the Republic of Texas; businessman Henry Ford; aviator Charles Lindbergh; J. Edgar Hoover, first director of the U. S. Federal Bureau of Investigation; entertainers Will Rogers, John Wayne, Ernest Borgnine, Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, Arthur Godfrey, Red Skelton, Danny Thomas, and Burl Ives; astronaut Buzz Aldren; musicians Louis Armstrong and Nat "King" Cole; restaurateurs Harland D. Sanders and Dave Thomas; and other former U. S. Presidents including James Monroe, Andrew Jackson, James K. Polk, James Buchanan, Andrew Johnson, James A. Garfield, William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, Warren G. Harding, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, and Gerald R. Ford.