This building served as a lodge, general store, and post office from 1859 until the 1950s. Today it serves as the Port Royal State Park Headquarters.
The lower floor is divided into two rooms, the larger served as the general store and the smaller served as the post office and later a telephone exchange. The upper floor was used as a meeting space for the Free and Accepted Masons, Hampton Lodge No. 137 which was established in 1858. Hampton's Lodge No. 137 remained at Port Royal until 1921 when it consolidated with the Red River Lodge No. 537 in Adams, TN. The lodge is the only remaining building from the town of Port Royal. It was built at the end of the Civil War and Reconstruction began a slow decline until the town faded away. However this building remained a constant and was continuously used as a store until the 1950s.
Stories of Murder—-
In 1863 on a Sunday morning, George Whitehead shot and killed Simpson Rosson, both members of this lodge. Whitehead was arrested and tried under military law with at least part of the trial taking place on the upper floor of this building. Whitehead was convicted and sentenced to death. Supposedly, a relative of Whitehead's made a deal with the Defender, Gen John Garner in the back room of this building. He would pay Garner $3000 to cross enemy lines and get President Lincoln's pardon. He is thought to have received the pardon.
In 1903 a bridge over Red River was under construction when it came time to remove the supports. Though people were instructed to leave the bridge during the process, a few remained including 17 year old Willie Wooldridge. As the supports were removed the bridge collapsed, critically injuring Wooldridge and two other men. Woodridge was taken to the upper floor of the lodge building to receive care from a doctor but soon after died from his injuries. His mother arrived shortly after his death and was overcome with grief and died there as well. It is said that both of their ghosts still haunt the lodge building today.
(Inscription under the photo in the bottom left)
The lodge building around 1890.
(Inscription under the photo in the bottom center)
The lodge in 1965. A tornado had hit the building in 1921 removing a portion of the upper floor. Instead of rebuilding it, the roof height was adjusted.
(Inscription under the photo in the bottom right)
The Lodge is the late 1970s. When the State of Tennessee acquired the building, it was in shambles and had been abandoned for several years, it was soon after renovated to serve as the Park Headquarters. Efforts to restore the Lodge to a late 19th century appearance began in 2011.