From 1784 to 1810, Spain awarded land grants in “Las Californias”. Later, in the first half of the 1800’s and following Mexico’s independence, land grants were awarded to families by the newly formed Mexican government to encourage settlement in Alta California.
In 1848, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo which ended the Mexican-American War, existing land grants were honored but as Americans and Europeans swarmed to California in search of gold and land, the days of the ranchos were beginning to fade away.
Many of the cities and communities in today’s Southern California take their names from the early ranchos including Santa Monica, Duarte, La Habra, Cerritos, Los Feliz, La Cañada, San Fernando, and more.
At the heart of the development in what would become Southern California, was the La Iglesia de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles. Founded by the Franciscan priests in 1814, the Church of Our Lady Queen of the Angels was built to bring the Christian faith to the earliest original settlers.
The original structure was rebuilt in 1861 and to this day remains a landmark of historical significance and a symbol of the culture and influence of the Spanish and Mexican periods in the history of Southern California.
Today, the Old Plaza Church is registered as part of the 64-acre Los Angeles Plaza Historic District and recognized as the oldest neighborhood in Los Angeles. The once sleepy pueblo built to the southeast of the Los Angeles River, was the city's center under the flags of Spain, Mexico, and the United States and was destined to become one of the world’s best known cities.
In addition to the Old Plaza Church, the Historic District includes the open air plaza with a beautiful bandstand and some of Los Angeles’ oldest remaining buildings including the Avila Adobe dating back to 1818, the Olvera Street market with it’s colorful food and gift stalls, and the Old Plaza Fire Station.
Across the Plaza from the church are the Pico House built by Pio Pico in the mid 1800s as a 33-room luxury hotel, the Merced Theater, and the Masonic Hall which was constructed in 1858.
The Masonic Hall was the home of Los Angeles Lodge No. 42, the first Masonic Lodge in greater Los Angeles and the second oldest Lodge in all of Southern California, second only to San Diego Lodge No. 35.
The Grace Dee May Museum is proud to be the repository of the original furnishings and artifacts of L.os Angeles Lodge No. 42, Free and Accepted Masons.
Masonic affiliated organizations are invited to consider holding a memorable degree ceremony in the Grace Dee May Museum Gallery utilizing the historic furnishings of LA No. 42. For more information or to make a reservation, contact Sean Foran at 818-222-6796.