One of 25 lodges started during the Republic of Texas, Forrest Lodge No. 19, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, was chartered on Jan. 11, 1844. It is the eighth oldest lodge in Texas. Among its early members were Sam Houston and Texas historian Henderson Yoakum. Another outstanding member, William Martin Taylor (1817-1871), is known as "The Father of the Texas Work". He published a handbook called "Taylor's Monitor" brought uniformity to Texas Masonic ritual. It was approved by the Grand Lodge at a meeting held here in 1858. At least 28 local Masons have attained offices in the Grand Lodge.
The upper floor of a store owned by Alexander McDonald, the first worshipful master, served as an early meeting place. A Two-story lodge hall on the north side of the square, built in 1850, was destroyed by fire in 1881. It was replaced by a brick building near the corner of University and 11th Street in 1883. The present property was acquired in 1896 and the new structure dedicated in 1909.
The Masons have shared their facilities with the Red Cross, the First Baptist Church, and the public schools. Lodge funds have aided distressed members, widows, and orphans; bought war bonds; and supplied scholarships.