The Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Indiana, was organized in this building on January 13, 1818. Alexander Buckner, of Charlestown was the first Grand Master. The five lodges chartered at this first meeting were Vincennens No. 1, Madison No.2, Charlestown No.3, Lawrenceburg No.4 and Corydon No.5.
The house has many of the architectural idioms of the period. The mass of the house is a block facing Second Street with a similar massive block extending to the rear along Poplar Street. An additional block at the south end of this extension on Poplar Street has been added to replace a frame lean-to which in turn replaced a log lean-to. Both were of one story; the current replacement is two stories. The restoration fortunately could be based on an early photograph supplied by Lee Burns, eminent architect and historian (1872-1957).
The cornice is stepped out in two courses of bricks set at an angle. Windows have been returned to six over six on the second level and nine over six on the first level. The first story windows and door facing Second Street are capped by semicircular lunettes made of slightly projecting bricks. The entrance doors are recessed by the depth of the wall. Heavy shutters with louvers have been replaced in their original thickness. A two-pitch roof running north and south covers the west extension and the main block of the house forming a hip with the two pitch roof running east and west over the front of the house. This east and west roof terminates in a gable facing east. The entrances on Second Street and Poplar Street have been modified-and are now cement steps with iron railings. The chimneys have been restored to their original design.
Tradition has it that the large lodge room on the second floor was originally designed to house overnight guests traveling through. They might have been served their meals in the kitchens on the first floor, and tradition also has it that the room under the lodge room was a tavern where there would have been available alcoholic beverages. The corner room is said to have been a store for the sale of fabrics, tinware, and staple groceries.
The question of who built the house has arisen because of less than explicit information supplied by the deed record. One group of interpreters wishes to attribute the building to Alexander Lanier, although his name does not appear at any point in the deed record. Another group would attribute the building to William Robinson, although Robinson's name does not appear on the deed record until 1820, two years after the Masons' organization meeting.
In 1972 the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite in the Valley of Indianapolis purchased the property from the heirs of the late Mrs. Charlotte Schofield for eventual presentation to the Freemasons of Indiana. It was turned over to the Masonic Heritage Foundation, and extensive restorations were made by H. Roll McLaughlin and Forrest Camplin, architects. The building was opened to the public as a Masonic museum on April 19, 1975, with elaborate ceremonies.