The first and oldest Masonic Lodge in Fort Smith,
In its earliest days the Lodge used upper rooms of the
officers’ quarters in the original fort of Old Fort
Smith 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.
Belle Point moved out of the Masonic Building in 2014,when
it was sold and moved into their present building on South Zero Street.
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
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
The Lodge continues its efforts to this day, to serve our