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Who are the heroines of Jericho? And why is their Fort Worth headquarters under threat?

A building that is the headquarters of one of the oldest African-American women’s associations in the country has been recognized as one of the most endangered structures in the city.

Last month, historic Fort Worth placed the Grand High Court of Heroines of Jericho building on its 2024 Most Endangered Places list. The list draws attention to the need to preserve historic places through restoration or preservation. The recognized buildings are generally threatened by a lack of maintenance, loss of parking and a lack of awareness of the economic incentives available to rehabilitate historic buildings.

The Grand High Court of Heroines of Jericho is located at 3016 E. 4th St., northeast of Harmon Field Park, close to downtown Fort Worth. Its significance is that it is the headquarters for all Heroines of Jericho chapters in Texas, a non-profit charitable organization that has been in existence since the late 1800s and maintains official documents for each chapter. Historic Fort Worth describes the building as “a rare historical resource that represents African Americans across the state.”

R. Lucille Samuel, who lives in El Paso, is the senior matron for the Texas jurisdiction within the Heroines of Jericho, a position equivalent to the president of all 53 of the organization’s lower courts in the state. When she heard that the building was on the endangered list, she responded excitedly: “It’s about time.”

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“The Heroines of Jericho, in my opinion, don’t get enough recognition within the community for all they’ve done and the reasons they’ve been there,” Samuel said.

History of the Heroines of Jericho

The Heroines of Jericho’s is an affiliate of Prince Hall Freemasonry. Prince Hall Freemasonry, which took its name from a formerly enslaved black abolitionist named Prince Hal, exists because Masonic lodges refused to admit African Americans. Hall, along with 14 other men, formed their own lodge, African Lodge No., in Boston in 1775. 1, the first black Freemasonry. They received their charter in 1784 and became African Lodge No. 459.

The organization advocated racial uplift and social justice for the African American community.

The Grand High Court of Heroines of Jericho was adopted in Texas in 1897 as the first female Masonic House of the Texas Prince Hall Masons and Grand Lodge Free and Accepted Masons of Texas.

According to Samuel, the organization’s mission is similar to that of the Prince Hall Masons, with an emphasis on community service that helps those less fortunate or those in need. This includes providing scholarships, youth programs or other philanthropic measures.

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The heroines of Jericho got their name from a woman in the Bible, Rahab, known as the heroine of Jericho in the book of Joshua.

In 1906, the headquarters of the Texas Grand Lodge and High Court were moved to Fort Worth.

The Grand High Court of Heroines of Jericho in Fort Worth serves as the headquarters for all of the organization's local chapters in Texas.

The Grand High Court of Heroines of Jericho in Fort Worth serves as the headquarters for all of the organization’s local chapters in Texas.

The first local court, Sarah Court #1, was built in Galveston, and today 53 local courts report to the Grand High Court in Texas.

Men can also be members of the Heroines of Jericho. They are called Knights of Jericho, and the highest position is the most adorable great Joshua, who works with the most ancient matron. One of Fort Worth’s most famous great Joshuas was William “Gooseneck” McDonald, who is widely believed to have been Texas’ first black millionaire and a leader in Fort Worth’s African American community.

In 1952, the headquarters for the Grand High Court of Heroines of Jericho was established on East 4th Street. It stores membership documents and historical records, and it is the place where requests from local courts to host events are considered.

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There are more than 900 members of the Heroines of Jericho in Texas. Fort Worth’s local court is Centennial Court No. 500, which was founded in 1984 and has approximately 30 members.

The Heroines of Jericho, along with other Prince Hall Masons across the state, will hold an annual grand session June 18-23 at the Embassy Suites Dallas-Frisco Hotel. The event offers workshops, networking opportunities and celebrates the achievements of the Masonic family.

‘The Freemason’s Way’

Arlene Simon, 68, is the office manager of the Grand High Court and has been a member of Centennial Court No. 500 since 2003. She grew up “The Masonic Way,” she said, as her father, grandfather and uncles were. all masons.

A spinning wheel in the office is the Jericho symbol of the many threads in society that keep the community together and vibrant.

The symbol of the Grand High Court of Heroines of Jericho is a spinning wheel, representing the many threads in society that keep the community together and vibrant.The symbol of the Grand High Court of Heroines of Jericho is a spinning wheel, representing the many threads in society that work to keep the community together and alive.

The symbol of the Grand High Court of Heroines of Jericho is a spinning wheel, representing the many threads in society that keep the community together and vibrant.

The organization has served lunches, provided blankets and water bottles to people experiencing homelessness on Lancaster Avenue; has donated to SafeHaven of Tarrant County for victims of domestic violence; and has donated school supplies to churches and Boys & Girls Clubs.

Simon said she wanted to be a Jericho because she wants to give back to her community. She said the organization doesn’t give back because of the recognition, but because it’s the right thing to do.

“The people we’ve helped know that’s all that matters,” Simon said.

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