In 1957, a group of American citizens, whose close British ties over the years had acquainted them with The Order of St.John and its work, expressed a desire to have a more active role in the work of the Order. In December of 1957, The American Society of the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem was legally incorporated in the State of New York. (This continues to be the Priory’s tax-exempt charitable arm.)
Among the early pioneers in founding and building The American Society were such prominent people as Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.; the Drexel family; Grayson Kirk, President of Columbia University; The Right Rev. Horace W. Donegan, Episcopal Bishop of New York; Hugh Bullock, industrial executive; David Granger, an investment banker; and William V. Griffin, one of the founders of Time, Inc.
Over the years, women have played an increasingly important role in the membership and governance of the Priory in the U.S., and today women hold high grades and offices in the Order.
The Priory in the U.S. was formally established at a dedication ceremony held in the National Cathedral, Washington, DC, on May 11, 1996. The new Priory included members of The American Society of the Order of St John. His Royal Highness, the Duke of Gloucester, the Grand Prior, presided and formally handed the instruments of foundation to the Prior of the newly recognized Priory, John R. Drexel IV, GCStJ, who succeeded his father John R. Drexel III as leader of the U.S. organization. John R. Drexel IV retired in 2008 as Prior but continues to be closely involved with the Order as a Life Governor. In 2008 the Priory Headquarters moved to 1875 K St. NW, Washington, D.C. and A. Marshall Acuff, Jr. was installed as the new U.S. Prior.
John R. Drexel IV, GCStJ, (l.) and The Rev’d Canon Peter F. Grandell, OStJ