Excelsior Lodge was founded in 1867 as the 261st Masonic Lodge to be chartered in North Carolina. It was founded in Charlotte, NC by Charlotte businessman and alderman Samuel Wittkowsky and former N.C. Governor, U.S. Senator, and Confederate General Zebulon B. Vance.
After the War Between the States, Vance was imprisoned for having served as governor of N.C. during the war. Following his release, on the encouragement of fellow Mason Wittkowsky, Vance began his new life as a civilian in Charlotte, where he set up a law practice. In Charlotte, Phalanx Lodge #31 was thriving – it was soon thriving even moreso with the addition of N.C.’s most famous politician (now civilian) attending lodge meetings.
Eventually, Vance and Wittkowsky chartered a second lodge in Charlotte, with the blessing and assistance of Phalanx 31: Excelsior. Meaning higher, always upward, Vance had no doubt drawn on his younger days as a Latin student, as well as the common use of Latin in law, to name this new lodge