Before the construction of Freemasons' Hall Arthur Square, Belfast, four Masonic meeting places existed in Belfast.
- Donegall Place Buildings
- 15 Donegall Place
- The Ulster Hall
- 28 Divis Street (later Christian Brothers Primary School)
For the benefit of the Order, it was decided in 1863 to build one venue for all to meet in. To realise this vision, a lease dated 1st November 1867 was created. Notable signatories included Sir Charles Lanyon - early evidenceof the renowned architect's committment to Freemasonry.
1867 is displayed on the sign above the Hall entrance.
On the 24th June 1868, streets were closed for a procession from the Ulster Hall to the site. It was an event of great pomp and circumstance. Balconies were constructed to provide the ladies of Belfast with a clear view, and around 10,000 people gathered to watch Sir Charles Lanyon lay the foundation stone.
1870 is displayed on the date stone. Completed and opened early in the year, Freemasons' Hall Arthur Square, Belfast, has since been a central location for the Masonic tradition in Northern Ireland.
There is little flamboyance in the architecture and décor within the Hall, rather the solid functionality of spaces within which everything has relevance and meaning. It is a building designed as a place to meet, and to conduct the business of Freemasonry in circumstances specifically provided for the purpose.
The inaugural House Committee of 1888 consisted of 23 representatives of the 23 Lodges contributing to the purchase scheme. This annual configuration of a House Committee of 23 resident Lodge representatives is embodied in the Trust Deed and cannot be altered. It persists to the present day, although many more Lodges and other bodies have subsequently registered in Freemasons' Hall Athur Square.