The Prince Hall Freemasons Memorial Service at Copp’s Hill Burying Ground was captured by photographer Brendan O’Brien. He used a rangefinder film camera with a prime 35mm, manual focus, lens.
The Freemason ceremony is one of the enduring Memorial Day events in Boston’s North End, held annually at 10:30 a.m. on the holiday going back over a hundred years. It is striking to compare the similarity of today’s event to the 1908 service shown on the sign near the grave site.
Prince Hall (c.1735-1807) was the founder of “Black Freemasonry” in the United States, known today as Prince Hall Freemasonry, and formed the African Grand Lodge where he was Grand Master. He was one of the first abolitionists.
Prince Hall is buried in Copp’s Hill Burying Ground in the North End in a marked grave. A monument was erected in 1835 next to the grave. Thousands of African Americans who lived in the colonial North End community at the base of Copp’s Hill are buried here, mostly in unmarked graves.
Photos by Brendan O’Brien.
2 Replies to “Freemason Memorial Day Ceremony at Copp’s Hill [Photo Gallery]”
Beautiful photos Brendan! I never knew that Afro Americans were buried in unmarked graves. Interesting article.
How well I remember those annual ceremonies. As a young boy, I would look out my bedroom window, which overlooked his grave site. I vividly recall that many of the participants were women, all dressed in their “white” finery and many would picnic, after the official ceremony. At the time, I had no idea who Prince Hall was. I would like to add a comment to this post. A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to take a granddaughter on a so called “roots” tour of the North End and of course the Copps Hill Burial Ground was one of our stops. I was amazed and sadly disappointed to see the poor state it was in. It was lacking in even a minimal amount of maintenance. I recall, as a young boy, there was a Maintenance Shed on the grounds with a full time person . I fully realize the cost considerations, but this is deplorable for a major tourist site.
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