Freemasons Hall, Parktown, Johannesburg
Witwatersrand Lodge meets at Freemasons' Hall, the District Grand Lodge headquarters, situated No.6 Park Lane, Parktown, Johannesburg in the Gauteng Province of South Africa. GPS co-ordinates are S 26 11.18 E 028 02.779
Freemasons' Hall in Parktown was dedicated on 28 April 1957 three years after the foundation stone of the new building was laid on 14 February 1954 by the Assistant Grand Master of the United Lodge of England, RW Bro Major General Sir Allan Adair, who was on a tour of the then Union of South Africa, South West Africa, Southern and Northern Rhodesia.
Freemasons' Hall was the end result of a lengthy and elaborate fund raising effort, 'The Jubilee Memorial Fund', which was launched at a special meeting of District Grand Lodge on 27 January 1945 held "to especially honour those Lodges which originally formed this District Grand Lodge..."
The Jubilee Memorial Fund was established to raise £50,000 for improvements to Freemasons' Hall in Kerk Street, which having been completed in April 1937, was immediately found to be too small.
In his appeal for a more adequate and permanent home for English Freemasonry in Tranvaal,
District Grand Master W Bro Federick Vernon Fairbass (1942-1950) wrote:
"I picture a stately building with front towards the east providing six lodge rooms, each one named after our six past District Grand Masters; a library, a museum, reading and a writing rooms, private rooms, storage..." The first stage, he said, would be to acquire "a 50 by 50 feet stand at the corner of Kerk and Mooi Streets thus making the extent of our site 100 by 100 feet and, secondly to alter and extend our premises along the lines indicated."
Plans to extend and improve the existing District Grand Lodge headquarters at Kerk Street however had to be abandoned when, in 1947, at a special meeting of the District to hear a The Board of General Purpose submit a lengthy report on plans for improving the building, it was pointed out that building could not carry any extra storeys.
The mandate to search for new premises was given to W Bro James Howard Vivian, President of the Board of General Purposes, who in 1947 acquired on behalf of District, "a magnificent plot in the salubrious neighbourhood of Clarence Circle ..." the site of the existing District Grand Lodge headquarters in Parktown.
On being elected District Grand Master, W Bro Vivian (1950 - 1955) vigorously
pursued the ideal of a new home for English Freemasonry in Transvaal, a building that would however serve as a home for sister constitutions as well,
on a tenancy basis, if necessary.
Still being desperately short of funds required to construct the proposed new Freemasons' Hall, he conceived a new idea to raise funds towards the Jubilee Memorial Fund. His proposal, which was approved by the Grand Lodge, was the creation of a Jubilee Memorial Collarette and Jewel which would be awarded to Lodges which donated the equivalent of £10 for every subscribing member. Based on the 83 Lodges in existence with membership of good standing of 4,320 he hoped to raise in the region of £45,000.
In 1961, when the Jubilee Memorial Fund Note was closed, it had raised £160,000 from the 93 lodges in the Transvaal District.
W Bro Vivian, sadly, did not live to see the completion of the building into which he had put so much energy and effort. He was however present when the new foundation stone was laid in 1954.
The first meeting at the new headquarters of the District Grand Lodge of the Transvaal was held on 1 May 1957. Three days before the District Grand Master RW Bro W S McAdam had dedicated the building.
Note: W Bro Leslie Wheal, who passed through the chair of Witwatersrand Lodge in 1952, was the Treasurer and Promoter of the Jubilee Memorial Fund.