One evening in September 1999, two Italian friends, Oscar Bartoli and Elio Grandi, were chatting in the ball room of the Scottish Rite Center, after a reunion of the Scottish Rite. “For a few years now, said Oscar, the Grand Lodge of DC has included in its Lodges some bilingual ones: French, German, Armenian, Hispanic, Iranian…I wonder if it would be possible to create an Italian lodge! “It seems to me like a good idea. Get to work!” Answered the wise Elio Grandi.
Encouraged by the positive feedback of his older Brother, Oscar approached Akram Elias, a member of the Grand Lodge, and presented him the project. Akram listened carefully and answered: “It is a great endeavor. Give me some time to work on it.”
From that point on, a few key members of the Grand Lodge, including, Robert Heyat, the founder of several Washington, DC Grand Lodge’s Bilingual Lodges, got involved and helped for the creation of the new Italia Lodge. The Italians residing in the US capital were joined by many American Brothers, including some the Past Grand Masters Jerry Samet, and George Adams.
Knocking on Italia Lodge’s door were also many Brethren who live in Italy, but who for professional, academic or scientific reasons come to Washington quite often. The bond with the Grand Orient of Italy was of course strong and the then Grand Master, Gustavo Raffi, asked to be included among the Founding Fathers of Italia Lodge.
After a year of “under dispensation” during which the dignitary and officials of the newborn lodge showed, under strict surveillance from the Grand Lodge of Washington DC, to be capable of conducting the administrative business of the Lodge and to perform the ritual in Emulation, on December 20, 2001 the Charter (see the enclosed copy of the charter) with the constitution of Italia Lodge N. 2001 was given by the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia to the Italia Lodge with a ceremony held at the Scottish Rite Center.
The Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia appointed Brother Riccardo Bellucci as the first Worshipful Master of Italia Lodge N. 2001 , Brother Oscar Bartoli as the first Senior Warden and Brother Franco Bernazzani as the first Junior Warden.
The other Brothers appointed by the Grand Lodge as initial officers of Italia Lodge 2001 were Akram Elias as Immediate Past Master, Elio Grandi as Senior Deacon, Marco Bartoli as Junior Deacon, James Therry as Marshal, Luigi Lino as Chaplain, Clark Misul as Senior Steward, Andrea Sylos Labini as Junior Steward, Maximilian Ullmann as Inner Guard, Bruno Fusco as Tiler, Joseph Crociata as Secretary and Robert B. Heyat as Treasurer.
Within others Founding Members of Italia Lodge 2001 we can remember the Honorary Members, Grant Berning, Charles Iversen, Mansour Hatefi, Robert Starr, Gustavo Raffi, George Adams, Stewart Miner, and Giuseppe Stuart. And as Active Members in addition to the appointed officers, Jerold Samet, Paul Naparian, George Stocklas, Ivano Carlesi, Max Bartoli, Luigi Ardino, Dan Frederick, Jules S. Tepper, Gerhard Meinzer, Victor Pedrossian, Renato Mazzatenta, Aldo Nicolosi and Nino Corsale. The initial Founding Trustees have been, Jerold Samet, Robert Heyat and Akram Elias.
In a matter of few years Italia Lodge 2001 has become the main Masonic and Cultural connection between the US and Italy’s capitals.
Italia Lodge 2001 is the only foreign Lodge whose special Communication is included in the official program of the Grand Lodge every year in April in Rimini, where thousands of Italian and foreign Brethren participate. Italia Lodge 2001 also leads, every year, the Delegation of the Grand Lodge of DC in a tour of Italy and to participate in the Grand Lodge of the Grand Orient of Italy.
Beyond the regular Masonic activities, the leaders of Italia Lodge have organized events at the Scottish Rite Center to raise funds for the disabled children clinic run by the Shrine.
The Italia Lodge 2001 Award has been conferred to main representatives of the Italian world of Arts, Science and Cuisine. The past events covered Giuseppe Garibaldi, Hero of the Two Worlds, The Hubble Telescope and the research on the fresco “La Battaglia di Anghiari’ painted by Leonardo da Vinci in the “Salone dei 500”, Palazzo Vecchio, Firenze, as well as main Italian winemaking endeavors in the USA.