Local History

Masonry in the Corning Area

The Valley of Chemung owes its introduction to organized Masonry to Gen. John Sullivan and the Sullivan Expedition sent to the area in 1779 by Gen. George Washington, also a leading Brother in Freemasonry. The expedition, one of the greatest campaigns of the Revolutionary War, broke the power of the Iroquois and destroyed their growing crops to prevent them from falling into the hands of the British.

Many of the officers and men of Washington’s army were Masons. They obtained a dispensation for a “Traveling Lodge” to move with the army where ever it went. Lodge was held every few days.

By 1793 this area, now Elmira, had its first chartered Masonic Lodge, Union #30. It was introduced to Masonry 236 years ago and the first Lodge in the Valley of Corning goes back 222 years. Just a few years after the beginning of the Grand Lodge of the State of New York.

Masonry enjoyed a steady growth in the area. On Sep 23, 1806, Steuben Lodge of Mark Masters was formed. Painted Post at the time covered a wide area of Steuben County.

The first meeting was held at the home of Neamiah Hubbell. No records show what became of the original lodge. Painted Post Lodge #203 applied for a dispensation on Dec 28, 1807 and it was granted by Grand Lodge. John Knox, who came to this area in 1795, was the first Master. Benjamin Patterson, frontier hunter, guide and Indian fighter, was the first Senior Warden. A Corning bridge bears his name. The Lodge met regularly on the second floor of a tavern on what now is the Benjamin Patterson Inn Museum Complex on Pulteney Street in Corning.

Later the Lodge, its number changed to 117, leased offices and the hall on the third floor of the Concert Block on Market Street. The Lodge grew apace.

Lodge #117 is now Corning-Painted Post Lodge #168, meeting only a few blocks from its beginning at Benjamin Patterson Tavern.

F.Hamm