Richard C. Maclaurin Lodge, A.F. & A.M., was instituted on December 15th, 1920—constituted in 1921—as the first Academic Masonic Lodge in the United States. Richard C. Maclaurin Lodge is unique as the first of the few college lodges in the United States, drawing its membership from members of the MIT community. The "Masons at MIT", a club founded at Tech in 1919, fostered the concept of a Tech Lodge and caused a petition to be drawn up with eighty-one signatures for presentation to the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts.

The founding of the Lodge in 1920 was shepherded by Prof. Frank Vogel. There being nothing in the Grand Lodge Constitutions regarding college lodges at that time, approval of the other lodges comprising the Cambridge Second Masonic District was required since at that time each Lodge had an area of geographical jurisdiction. 

It followed naturally that the Lodge should be named for Richard C. Maclaurin during whose regime as seventh president of MIT the new campus was established in Cambridge. He had just passed away previous to the founding of the Lodge from overwork and exhaustion resulting from his efforts leading the building campaign, which moved MIT from Boston to Cambridge. Worshipful Brother Maclaurin was a Past Master of Aorangi Lodge in Wellington, New Zealand.