In the early 1860’s, a group of Masons, of the various lodges living in what was then known as the Northern part of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, started meeting together to study Masonry. Enjoying each other’s fellowship, they wrote a letter to the Most Worshipful Grand Master, Dr. Jonathan Davis, petitioning him to set them up as a Lodge.
Their request was granted by the Grand Master, Bro Davis and together with several members of his cabinet, he journeyed up to Brown Street Hall, located at Lawrence and Brown Streets to set them up as a Lodge and issue them a Charter. So on April 6, 1864; this group became known as OLIVE BRANCH LODGE No. 51, AF&AM.
Olive Branch Lodge No. 51 met in this hall for the next fifteen years. In 1879 because their landlord would not fix the roof, and every time it rained or snowed it would leak, they were forced to find new quarters. They decided to buy stock in and move into the Masonic Hall, 1227 Locust Street. For seventy years or until 1949, they met in Locust Street Hall. They moved into the temple at 17th and Diamond Streets. Since its inception, Wednesday, April 6, 1864, Olive Branch Lodge has met on the first Wednesday of each month.
Prior to 1882, there were two Grand Lodges of Negro Masons in Pennsylvania and at the time Olive Branch moved into Locust Street Hall, very definite steps had begun to take shape in merging these two Grand Lodges. Many of the members of Olive Branch were prominent on committees to help work out plans for this merger of the two Grand Lodges. In 1882 the two Grand Lodges merged. Many of the subordinate lodges suffered as a consequence of the many opinions of the members. Some of the smaller lodges were so split up, they were forced to either merge with stronger lodges or go out of existence entirely.
In 1887, Galbraith Lodge No. 37 merged with Fidelity Lodge No. 8. The combined group then took the name of Galbraith Lodge and retained the lower number 8. In 1889, this process was repeated when Galbraith Lodge No. 8 merged with Olive Branch Lodge No. 51. This group retained the name of Olive Branch and took the No. 8. Thus Olive Branch Lodge became the owners of the No. 8. During the year 1970, Olive Branch Lodge No. 8 adopted Matthew Chapter No. 65, OES, as its Sister Chapter. This was another first in Masonry and we are both proud and honored to have obtained this distinction.
Many members of Olive Branch Lodge No. 8 have worked with honor in our Grand Lodge. PM David Weaver, a carpenter by trade, rose to be Senior Warden of this Grand Lodge. He also took over the custodianship of Locust Street and built many of the secrets known only to the Brothers and Companions in that Hall. These other Brothers also rose to Grand Lodge positions, PM James D. Williams, as Worshipful District Lecturer, PM Ernest Sellers, as Grand Auditor and PM Albert Green, as Grand Organist. In 2006 PM Norman L. Johnson entered the Grand Lodge as Grand Trumpeter and still holds that position. In 2010 PM Glenn Pembleton was appointed to the Grand Lodge as Worshipful District Lecturer and in 2014 he was appointed as Worshipful District Deputy Grand Master for the 1st Masonic District.
For 151 years the members of Olive Branch Lodge have practiced the true principles of Masonry and this short-space could not begin to list the many other accomplishments and contributions to our Grand Lodge