Monument to the first Temple in Colorado, June 17, 1933
Late in the year 1858 a number of gold-seekers had gathered at the junction of Cherry Creek and the Platte River, on land which was then a part of the Territory of Kansas, but which now is within the State of Colorado. This settlement was known as Auraria, and by the first of November a number of cabins had been erected there. On the evening of November 3, 1858, seven Masons, including William M. Slaughter, held an informal meeting in one of those cabins; and throughout the following winter these brethren and others continued to meet from time to time, having in mind the formation of a new Masonic Lodge at Auraria, provided the proper authorization could be obtained from some Grand Lodge. Gold was discovered in May, 1859, in what is now Gilpin County, Colorado; and within a month thereafter several thousand men had rushed to the Gregory Diggings in that section of the country, and were engaged there or in the vicinity in a search for the precious metal. Among them were many Masons (including some who had become acquainted by having participated in the Masonic meetings that had been held throughout the preceding winter at Auraria), a number of whom, after discussing the matter, reached the conclusion that it would be desirable to have a meeting place at the Gregory Diggings for members of the Masonic fraternity. Accordingly, on June 12, 1859, a committee of three brethren preempted, as shown by an entry in Book A, page 59 of the records of the Gregory Mining District (now a part of the records of Gilpin County), a block of ground on which to erect a “Masonic Temple.”
Within a few days thereafter the building, which was of logs, “chinked and plastered with mud inside and out,” and about thirty feet square, was completed; and about the 20th of June, 1859, an informal, though tiled, meeting of more than two hundred Masons, known to the committee in charge to be such by information or examination, was held in what was probably the first “Masonic Temple” erected in the vast territory between the Missouri River and the Pacific Coast. Some of those who participated in this meeting took prominent parts in the organization a few months later of the first Masonic Lodge in Colorado.
In 1929 the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of Colorado appointed a committee to investigate a proposal that the Grand Lodge erect a monument to mark the site of the first Masonic Temple (that is to say, a building used exclusively for Masonic purposes) in the State of Colorado. Later the Grand Lodge appropriated funds for the creation of such a monument, and appointed a committee to take charge of the work. Some delay was encountered in perfecting the title to the land, but the monument has been completed and it will be unveiled and dedicated on June 17, 1933.