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Walter A. Brown, Grand Master, 1906

Brother Brown is a native of the District of Columbia, having been born in the City of Washington November 25, 1866, and therefore had just passed the thirty-ninth anniversary of his birth when called upon to assume the responsible and exacting duties pertaining to the office of Grand Master of Masons, being one of the youngest men to fill that station in the history of the jurisdiction.

He received his education in the schools of the District of Columbia, and at Swarthmore College, in Pennsylvania, at which latter institution he was chosen president of his class, and also entrusted with the business management of the two magazines published by the students. The successful manner in which he handled the duties of that position gave early indication of his aptitude for affairs and grasp of details that were later to characterize his whole business career.

Upon leaving college he returned to Washington, and there found employment in insurance and real estate offices, where he acquired such a proficiency in all the essentials of the work as to qualify him to go into those lines of business on his own account, which he did in 1891. In this venture he has been successful, and he feels that the best endorsement of his methods and abilities is to be found in the fact that he counts among his clients and business friends today many who entrusted the management of their properties to him when he started in business. He has been a director of one of our most prominent banks, of trust companies, and other corporations, as well as a member of the Chamber of Commerce and for many years a director of the Washington Board of Trade.

The Masonic career of Brother Brown has been one of exceptional activity. He was initialed November 26, 1889, in Federal Lodge, No. 1, passed December 24, 1889, and raised January 28, 1890. At the first election occurring in his lodge thereafter he was chosen Senior Steward, and once having entered the line was regularly advanced, serving as Junior Warden in 1894, Senior Warden in 1895, and Worshipful Master in 1896. His successor had not yet been installed as Master of the lodge when he was elected Senior Grand Steward in the Grand Lodge. He was regularly advanced in the Grand Lodge to the various stations and places, and was elected Grand Master on the evening of St. John's Day, December 27, 1905. Thus during the seventeen years of his Masonic existence he served his brethren actively and continuously, as an officer in his lodge and in Grand Lodge, for sixteen years-a distinction both rare and well deserved.

Because of the exceptional conditions which prevailed in Washington during the Civil War all the Masonic bodies in the District of Columbia experienced a period of unexampled prosperity, and the annual gains then made, numerically and financially, have rarely, if ever, been equaled during any particular year since by any of those bodies. It is, therefore, a matter of pride with Brother Brown that the year 1896, when he was Worshipful Master of Federal Lodge, No. 1, was the most prosperous of any in its existence since the war.

Brother Brown was exalted in Columbia Chapter, No. 1, R. A. M., April 22, 1891, and knighted in Washington Commandery, No. 1, K. T., February 17, 1892. He is a member of Mithras Lodge of Perfection, No. 1, A. A. S. R., and of Almas Temple, A. A. O. N. M. S.

He has been President of St. John's Mite Association since 1904, when the position became vacant through the resignation of Past Grand Master Robert B. Donaldson, who had held it for many years.

No Grand Master in this jurisdiction ever held the scales of justice in more equal poise, or showed a keener appreciation of the efforts of the officers of the constituent lodges. While it gave him pleasure to recognize merit and ability and to bestow praise and words of encouragement where due, he did not shirk the duty of giving timely admonition to the lodges when conditions seemed to require it, and he knew how to do this in a way to effect his purpose without leaving any feeling of humiliation on the part of the brethren.

While kind, considerate, courteous, unassuming, and democratic to a degree, his dignity and poise in the discharge of his duties reflected the veneration in which he held the high office to which he had been chosen, and won the respect and esteem of his brethren.

Brother Brown was called upon during the year to preside at a number of public functions, among the more important of which were the dedication of the completed wing of the Masonic and Eastern Star Home and the laying of the cornerstone of the Office Building of the House of Representatives. On the latter occasion our ceremonies, handed down from time immemorial and of deep significance to us, were performed in the presence of the Chief Executive of the Nation, the representatives of our own and foreign governments, and a vast concourse of spectators. On this occasion the President delivered an address on "The Man with the Muck Rake." It is believed that Brother Brown cherishes no souvenir of his years' service as Grand Master more highly than the bound copy of that address, presented to him by the President, and bearing on the fly leaf, in the President's own handwriting, the inscription: "To Walter A. Brown, Esq., Grand Master of Masons, from Brother Theodore Roosevelt."

AHGP District of Columbia

Source: History of the Grand Lodge and Freemasonry in the District of Columbia, compiled by W. Brother Kenton N. Harper, 1911.

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