National Heritage Museum , Lexington , Massachusetts

The National Heritage Museum in Lexington, MA is an American history museum founded and supported by 32° Scottish Rite Freemasons in the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction.

What is the Scottish Rite

The Scottish Rite seeks to strengthen the community and believes that each man should act in civil life according to his individual judgment and the dictates of his conscience.

A member of the Scottish Rite seeks to:

  • Exalt the dignity of every person, the human side of his daily activities, and the maximum service to humanity.
  • Aid mankind's search in God's universe for identity, for development and for destiny, and thereby produce better men in a better world, happier men in a happier world and wiser men in a wiser world.

The Scottish Rite is one of the appendant bodies of Freemasonry that a Master Mason may join for further exposure to the principles of Freemasonry.

In the United States the Scottish Rite is officially recognized by Grand Lodges as an extension of the degrees of Freemasonry.  The Scottish Rite builds upon the ethical teachings and philosophy offered in the craft lodge, or blue lodge, through dramatic presentation of the individual degrees.

About the Supreme Council

The Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite in each country is governed by a Supreme Council. There is no international governing body — each Supreme Council in each country is sovereign unto itself.

In the U.S. there are two Supreme Councils. The Northern Masonic Jurisdiction (NMJ) is headquartered in Lexington, Massachusetts, and the Southern Jurisdiction (SJ) in Washington, DC.

The Northern Masonic Jurisdiction refers to state organizations as Councils of Deliberation and the local bodies are organized into Valleys.

The System of Degrees

Each Valley has up to four Scottish Rite bodies, and each body confers a set of degrees. In the Northern Masonic Jurusdiction, the bodies are the:

  • Lodge of Perfection (4°–14°)
  • Council of Princes of Jerusalem (15°–16°)
  • Chapter of Rose Croix (17°–18°)
  • Consistory (19°–32°)

The Supreme Council confers the 33° of Sovereign Grand Inspector General

History of the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction

1813 On August 5th Daniel D. Tompkins is chosen as the first Sovereign Grand Commander of the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction. Tompkins had enjoyed a successful political career. In 1804 he was simultaneously elected to Congress and appointed to the New York Supreme Court. He chose the latter, serving until his election as Governor in 1807. He was offered the post of Secretary of State in the Madison administration, and was elected U.S. Vice President in 1816, with fellow Mason, James Monroe.

1827 Anti-Masonic movement spreads across the nation, and nearly extinguishes the fraternity. John James Joseph Gourgas was elected as Sovereign Grand Commander and kept the Rite alive during this dark period. Through his dedication and loyalty he earned the title “Conservator of the Rite.”

1840’s Sovereign Grand Commander Giles F. Yates sets about rebuilding the organization. One of his followers, Killian H. Van Rensselaer, establishes new Valleys in New Haven, Pittsburgh, and Chicago.

1851 Edward A. Raymond is elected as Sovereign Grand Commander.

1860 Raymond’s contentious leadership causes a split in the Supreme Council. He is deposed and replaced by Van Rensselaer. Raymond establishes a rival Supreme Council, which operates for six years.

1867 Following the death of Raymond, the two rival councils unite.

1879 Henry L. Palmer is elected Sovereign Grand Commander, beginning the longest tenure (30 years) in the history of the Rite.

1921 Leon Abbott is elected Sovereign Grand Commander and moves the Supreme Council offices from New York to Boston. Upon his death, his will provides for the Abbott Scholarships.

1933 Melvin Maynard Johnson is elected Sovereign Grand Commander and serves as the first full-time Sovereign Grand Commander. Johnson leads the Rite through the Great Depression, World War II, a membership drop to 208,000, and its rebound to 422,000. He establishes a foundation to fund schizophrenia research and writes many papers on early Freemasonry.

1968 SGC George A. Newbury moves the Supreme Council headquarters from Boston to Lexington, MA, just a mile from where the American Revolution began.

1970 The Northern Light begins publishing.

1975 On April 20, the day after the American Revolution Bicentennial began on Lexington Green with President Ford presiding, the National Heritage Museum opens on the grounds of Supreme Council headquarters. It is called the gift of the Scottish Rite Masons to the nation.

1995 Sovereign Grand Commander Robert O. Ralston begins a new charity as the first 32° Masonic Learning Center for Children with Dyslexia opens.

2000 The Supreme Council opens its new headquarters building on the grounds in Lexington, MA.

2003 Walter E. Webber succeeds Robert O. Ralston as Sovereign Grand Commander.

2005 The number of children's learning centers exceeds 50.

2006 John Wm. McNaughton succeeds Walter E. Webber as Sovereign Grand Commander.

The Supreme Council

The Supreme Council, 33°, for the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction is the governing body for Scottish Rite Freemasonry. With its headquarters in Lexington, Massachusetts, the Supreme Council is a board of directors comprised of some fifty 33° Masons, called "Active Members." The chief executive officer's title is Sovereign Grand Commander.

Each of the 15 states within the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction has an Active Member designated as a "Deputy," who is the executive officer for the Rite within his state. He is supported by the remaining Active Members of the state. There is at least one Active Member in addition to the Deputy in each state. Some states have as many as five Active Members. The purposes of the Supreme Council are clearly defined in its Declaration of Principles.

The Northern Masonic Jurisdiction oversees the bodies in 15 states: Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Wisconsin and Vermont. In the Northern Jurisdiction the Supreme Council consists of no more than 66 members.

The Supreme Council meets on an annual basis, at which time the business of the Rite is transacted and the 33° is conferred on those who have been elected to receive this honor. From a membership of more than 200,000 32° Masons, less than 3,500 have been elevated to the 33°, for which they have been given the title of "Honorary Member." Within each state are local Valleys, where degrees from the 4° - 32° are conferred.

Location of their headquarters:

33 Marrett Road (Rte 2A)
Lexington, Massachusetts

Their mailing address is:

Supreme Council, 33°
Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite
Northern Masonic Jurisdiction
P.O. Box 519
Lexington, MA 02420-0519

Their telephone number is:
Phone: (781) 862-4410
FAX: (781) 863-1833





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