On Saturday, April 1st, 2017, six brothers of Fidelity-St. John’s Lodge #3 exercised their privilege as masons to visit the Grand Lodge of New York. The trip was organized by Bro. Fritzner Erauda, who is currently the lodge’s head of the Events Committee. For many of the brothers, this was the first time they visited a lodge outside of Connecticut and when Bro. Erauda organized the trip, the young brothers and new Master Masons jumped at the opportunity to participate and learn more about the ancient and fraternal order. The trip was not only eye-opening experience, but it was also very educational.
The Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of New York was established in 1781. The Grand Lodge is a 19-story building located in the lower Manhattan of New York City. The Masonic Hall is actually two connected buildings, one on the 23rd St. with commercial tenants to help fund the organization and the other on the 24th St. with rooms for lodge meetings. There are about 100 lodge rooms and currently, there are about 76 lodges that permanently meet in the building.
The Masonic Hall was built in 1913 by architect Harry P. Knowles, a Master Mason himself, but the current lodge meeting rooms were restored by the interior designer Felix Chavez Inc. from 1986 to 1996. All the rooms that were viewed by the tour guide were all intricately designed and detailed. The rooms were all painted plaster: from imitation stone to reliefs to frescoes. Some of the rooms that were opened for the tour were: the Renaissance Rooms, Ionic Room, Corinthian Room, Doric Room, French-Doric Room, French-Ionic, Colonial Room, Gothic Room, Egyptian Room, and the Grand Masonic Hall of Grand Lodge of New York.
Aside for the sophisticated and intricate interior design of the lodge rooms, it also carries its own story, history, and most importantly, symbolism. For instance, inside the Gothic Room, therein a mason will find the normal three stations for the Worshipful Master, Senior Warden, and Junior Warden and the alter at the center of the room surrounded by three burning candles.
In the east, where the Worshipful Master sits is a massive stained glass window decorated by the jewels of lodge officers and working tools. Above the stained-glass window is the well-recognized letter of Freemasonry; the letter “G”. Behind the Senior Warden’s station is where the organist sits. The organ is elegantly designed with its long pipes reaching the ceiling of the room. The room is lit by two large chandeliers. Its design is resembling ones that can be found inside a historic European castle. The ceiling is painted dark blue with silver stars symbolizing the unity and equality of all men in the universe.
Towards the end of the tour, the brothers were showed the Livingston Masonic Library. In the library, therein can be found many historical artifacts, arts, and archives that thought have been lost in history. Of the many books that are contained within the library, the book of the Knights of Templar is perhaps one of the most valuable. The volume is an archive which contains the historical overview of the formation and activities of the Knights of Templar, followed by an analysis of events leading to their suppression during the years 1307-1314. The documents contained within the book were thought to be lost in the Vatican archives for centuries, until their recovery in 2001 and publication in 2007.
Other historical artifacts that can be found in the building are old badges and jewels, certificates, weapons such as swords and daggers, aprons, and passports. Many of these items were collected through donations from many masonic lodges in the state of New York.
As an overall feedback from the brothers who attended, the trip was enjoyable and educational. We highly recommend taking a trip up and seeing the rooms in person as many of them cannot be described into words. For more information about the Grand Lodge of New York and tour hours, their website can be visited at https://nymasons.org.