Universal Lodge No. 14
64, Clay Street, Annapolis, Anne Arundel County
Located at 64 Clay Street in the historically African-American Fourth Ward of Annapolis, Universal Lodge No. 14 is a two-story gable-front frame and concrete-block building with a brick veneer facade, constructed c. 1880 and substantially expanded in the mid 1950s. The original portion of the building is a two-story frame structure measuring approximately 28’ wide by 50’ deep. In 1956, a two-story masonry addition 30’ deep was constructed across the rear. The principal facade faces south onto Clay Street, fronting directly on the sidewalk. It is three bays wide, with a central entrance of double doors flanked by glass-block sidelights. The facade brick is neatly laid in common bond, with rowlock courses marking the level of the window sills and lintels, and a slightly projecting rowlock course marking the top of the wall. A pedimented portico on wrought iron supports shelters the entrance, which is accessed by a small porch with steps on either side. A single sash window with 2/2 horizontal lights is located in each of the flanking bays. On the upper story, a recessed central panel holds a Masonic symbol executed in glazed brick; this is flanked on either side by paired 2/2 windows like the single windows on the first floor. A pair of small 1/1 windows appear in the gable peak. The gable is finished in stucco. The cornice projects slightly, and there are short returns at the ends. The east elevation of the frame portion is covered with stucco. The rear addition is constructed of concrete blocks. The interior comprises a multi-purpose “day room,” kitchen, and rest rooms on the first floor, and a large open lodge room, anteroom, and storage area on the second floor. Interior finishes are relatively plain, and predominantly reflect the mid-1950s renovation of the building. The entry vestibule and second-floor anteroom are paneled in knotty pine. The lodge room has plaster walls, vinyl tile flooring in a checkerboard pattern, and a drop ceiling with acoustical panels and fluorescent lighting.
Universal Lodge No. 14 is significant for its association with the development of the African American community in the city of Annapolis, capital of the state of Maryland. Founded in 1865 by a group of black civilian employees of the U.S. Naval Academy, the Lodge has played a significant role in the social life of the community. The membership of the Universal Lodge No. 14 has included many of the most prominent citizens of Annapolis. The Lodge has supported a wide range of activities and initiatives to benefit the community, from financial assistance for families in need to sports and mentoring programs for local youth. Although the founding of the Universal Lodge No. 14, Free and Accepted (F & A) Masons as a fraternal organization dates back to 1865, the building was not constructed until c. 1880, and the Lodge did not acquire the property until 1940.