Who keeps Steve Gutenburg a star?
January 27, 2005 5:08 AM   Subscribe

Philadelphia's Masonic Temple looms enigmatically near city hall. Visit, and marvel at the Corinthian Hall, the Renaissance Hall, the Egyptian Hall, the Oriental Hall, the Norman Hall, the Gothic Hall, and the Ionic Hall. Untangle the inscrutable symbology of George Washington's Masonic Apron. Browse the extensive library (if you're a mason). Even bring home a spoon.
posted by deafmute (16 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
OK, who's been reading The Da Vinci Code again?
posted by ChrisTN at 6:29 AM on January 27, 2005

In all years I have been going philly I have never noticed this building. Thanks for the info.
posted by Cool Alex at 7:22 AM on January 27, 2005

The Grand Lodge Of Pennsylvania is one of the most glorious buildings I've been in and the museum and library are national treasures.
posted by roboto at 7:25 AM on January 27, 2005

Yes, that building is quite amazing. Especially as a lot of the material that looks like wood or marble is actually painted plaster or other stonework. It's well worth the cheap admission.

The tour is surprisingly good, although the guides get peppered with a million conspiracy-related questions and constantly emphasize that there's not much secret about their secret society (a lot of the information is available on the web supposedly). Our tour guide had a lot to say about the staggering detail of the building. The one thing I did notice was that the guide would subtly talk to certain people and give them a Masonic pin, ostensibly to tap them to be come a Mason.
posted by Mercaptan at 8:48 AM on January 27, 2005

Odd that a secret, world-running society opens itself a museum [OF EVIL?!], isn't it?

Really whatever the masons do behind closed doors has no reflection on their public face. I'm glad to see the Philly chapter put to good use. I recently produced an album in the East Wing of the Grand Lodge here in Detroit (through "inside" connections), and it's not nearly this elegant... though every bit as ominous. Supposedly the one here is the largest of it's kind, shame it's not kept as well as this one.
posted by phylum sinter at 8:56 AM on January 27, 2005

So, what, they're a club? How does one join?
posted by Smedleyman at 9:02 AM on January 27, 2005

Hee. Masons. I like it that the Chicago Intercontinental made the Medinah Athletic Club into a swanky hotel, with this lucious throwback pool on the 13th floor (not sure how that fits into the whole DaVinci conspiracy thing). I'm sure someone's fez is quivering in indignation.

The George Washington Masonic Memorial in Alexandria has an animatronic George Washington, in apron, telling you all about the Masonic Way. Sadly, his little rubber jaw is cracked, so when he talks, you can see the machinery running around. Makes you think about Terminator-style conspiracy theories (could explain a lot, if you cross it with some Skull N Bones members).
posted by beezy at 9:06 AM on January 27, 2005

Smedlyman: Walk in. Ask someone how you join. It's really just that simple. If you are male, that is.
posted by Freen at 9:54 AM on January 27, 2005

Same thing with Atlanta's wonderful Fox Theater, beezy -- it was originally built as a Masonic temple, but the Depression hit and the Masons were forced to sell.

Oh, and for maximum hijinks, go into a Masonic temple and mention the word "Tubal-Cain."
posted by Vidiot at 10:00 AM on January 27, 2005

Second what Freen said. To be one, ask one. If you don't know any personally, you can usually find someone who does, or you can contact the local Lodge or Temple and request information.

Also: HA! At the title of this thread.
posted by angeline at 10:03 AM on January 27, 2005

No athiests, please.
posted by keswick at 10:42 AM on January 27, 2005

Another great post, deafmute. Shame on me for having lived in or near Philadelphia for all of my 43 years and having never visited this magnificent building. I've passed by many times, just never got around to going inside. I could probably spend a week just visiting and re-visiting great Philadelphia treasures like this one.
posted by fixedgear at 1:47 PM on January 27, 2005

Thanks for the complements. I've been here approaching 4 years now and havn't been inside either, but I plan on coupling it with a tour of city hall.

I could make a new FPP every day highlighting the obscure and interesting treasures secreted away in this town, but so much of this city is pretty poorly documented on the internets. Maybe next I'll do a post on city hall, or the bizarre, inscrutable Wagner Free Institute, neither of which have been mentioned on this site.

I love the guided tour on the temple website; that dorky picture on its opening page really sets the tone. Make sure you take it, there's alot of VR images and other history not available on the self-guided one.
posted by deafmute at 2:01 PM on January 27, 2005

How about the Mutter Museum!
posted by fixedgear at 2:33 PM on January 27, 2005

I think the old Monty Python Mason sketchs made me a little nervous.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:21 PM on January 27, 2005

Masons have other swank digs: New York Grand Lodge . . . Scottish Rite Temple in D.C. to name a couple more.
posted by Toecutter at 8:56 PM on January 27, 2005

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