Thursday, October 1, 2009

Friday "My Town" Shoot Out - Photo Study of a Building

“Freemasonry is an establishment founded on the benevolent intention of extending and conferring mutual happiness upon the best and truest principles of moral life and social virtue.” ~ Calcott

I have always been fascinated with Masons, so I picked the Crisfield Masonic Temple as my subject. I have been in the downstairs area of the building covering community events, but never upstairs. I was prepared to do an outside study of the building when I was headed out on an assignment... Um? There were some people there carrying in decorations. I had a few minutes and thought I would stop to take some photos of the downstairs. I was lucky enough to get a tour of this historical building from the Worshipful Master himself (33rd Degree, for all you Masons out there). I felt very privileged and humbled to be invited upstairs. I stayed way too long, but history has a way of stopping time.

I hope you enjoy the photos of the Crisfield Masonic Lodge, Chesapeake No. 47 of the Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, founded in 1869. The Masons used to meet in the old opera house until it burned down. The property that the present lodge sits on was purchased in 1917. Building began in 1918, and was completed in 1926. The cornerstone ceremony was held in 1929.











Let's look around downstairs...

This hung over the opera house when lodge members used to meet upstairs. The opera house, along with much of downtown Crisfield, was destroyed in the fire of 1928. Damage from the fire was estimated at one million dollars.

They still heat with this.



And this is one of the switches that turns up the heat.

And here are some of the pipes that move the air.

Rich woodwork.

Frosted windows.

I can't get enough of the beautiful woodwork.

George Washington was a Mason. Hey, I had to black and white this photo.

A game of pool, anyone?

Or how about some dominoes? I was poking around and opened a drawer (photographers do that) and found these dominoes. I was told that in the early days men were really serious about this game. They would sometimes play late into the night. They look like they have been around awhile. Oh, if these dominoes could only talk.



I love this light in the entrance.

Shot this window going upstairs. From here on you are on your own. Only Masons know the meaning of what you are about to see.











I can tell you that all those little flowers are raised plaster - created by hand.













This is a viewer for the glass slides shown below. Each slide pertains to a Masonic lesson. Really cool.





Dated December 1914.



Dated 1915:



These floors have seen a lot of traffic over the years.

And a lot of people have set in those benches and chairs.



Dated 1896.

Fading photograph of the laying of the cornerstone.



Dated 1910.



I want to thank the Worshipful Master Authur Harold Tawes, a 33rd Degree Mason who, despite his lack of proper attire - remember he had run up to the lodge on a Saturday to open it up for the people who were planning a party?) allowed me to photograph him. He took this out of a case for me and put it around his neck. Not sure of the date but it is very old.

Harold sat in his chair while we talked and explained some of the items I inquired about - well, kind of - he wasn't giving away any secrets. Oh, I don't think they call that a chair. As a matter of fact, I am pretty sure they don't. Everything has an identity.

Harold topped off the tour by putting on a hat. Like everything else, the hat is symbolic. Harold did explain that when he is presiding over a meeting (and they probably don't call them "meetings"), dressed in his suit, of course, a hat is always worn.

We have a lot of wonderful and accommodating people in Crisfield. It was a beautiful Saturday, and I am sure that Harold had projects and other things he could have been doing. The tour was wonderful. I was impressed. Thanks again, Harold. You were a gem!

“There are great Truths at the foundation of Freemasonry—truths which it is its mission to teach—and which as constituting the very essence of that sublime system which gives to the venerable institution its peculiar identity as a science of morality, and it behooves every disciple diligently to ponder and inwardly digest." ~ Albert Pike

33 comments:

Kerry said...

Wow, what a lot of cool photos you have of your local Masonic lodge. We don't have one where I live, but I have seen them in other larger towns, and they are always quite awe-inspiring. The windows, floors, doors, and mysterious stars! Harold makes quite a sight there in the amazing throne.

Lew said...

Interesting post and great pictures! I guess the Mason's are not as secretive as Dan Brown would have us believe.

~JarieLyn~ said...

This is very interesting. All the stuff inside the building is wonderful.

Rebecca said...

Lucky you! Thanks for sharing that awesome tour. I love the switch that turns on the heat. You always seem to know when the right time to be at the right place is. Do you tell them you are a photojournalist. Does that help you get a better response from people?

Kathryn Magendie said...

oh! love all that wood! beautiful!

I hope I can do my FSO today - am behind by two!

Noe Noe Girl...A Queen of all Trades. said...

Patty~I cannot wait to show my husband this post. He is a mason and a member of two lodges here in VA. Arlington Lodge and Henrico Union. Both have been around for a long time. Great job as always!
<><

Patty said...

Kerry: Yes, the Masons do have some awe-inspiring buildings. It is the history that awes me. I don't think it is called a throne, either.I was really careful not to mislabel anything.

Patty said...

Lew: The Masons, as I now know them, are about community and friendship. They do a great deal to make the world a better place.

Patty said...

JareLyn: Thanks. I could have stayed all day but I know that Harold was in the middle of something around his house and I was almost late for my assignment. I completely lost track of time.

Patty said...

Rebecca: In truth, there is always a right time to be anywhere when it comes to taking photos. It's all in the looking. Most people go about their daily lives not noticing anything but what is in front of them, and sometimes not seeing that. I am always looking at colors, shapes, and composition. When I am riding down the road, anything moving catches my eye. Of course, running into Harold at that exact time was pretty lucky.

This is a small town and most people know me so I don't have to do a lot of explaining. In theory, though, if you want to take someone's photo and you ask them and tell them why most people are accommodating.

I know a lot of our members are afraid to point a camera at people they don't know. People are just fascinating to me. Everyone has a story to tell and behind that there is another story. And people love to chat about their lives.
You can also meet new friends that way.

Linda said...

I was always brought up to believe what happened in the Mason Lodge stayed in the Mason Lodge. My mother and grandmother were Eastern Star ladies. I do not know a great deal of information. I will know more when Barry finishes his Dan Brown book, then it's my turn.
Great photo shoot Patty. You have a brilliant eye for detail. The brickwork and woodwork is beautiful and there are many treasures here. Rich textures and warmth through out. Thank you for the interesting tour.

Doreen said...

fantastic series of shots! so many favs, I pick all of them!! have a great weekend!!

Barry said...

This is obviously a building that inspired you Patty, and I can see why. I'm just reading Dan Brown's book "The Lost Symbol" which is all about Masons and Washington, so your timing couldn't have been better.

kate said...

Have you read Dan Brown's new book? I think that it would really spark your Masonic interests! What a great shoot-out...I love the look of old buildings like that.

Sarah said...

Wow facinating!! what an amazing place - I feel like I have been taken on a tour of all of the wonderful things! Thank you!!!
Sarah

Cindy said...

Very cool, and I agree with Kate--you should read The Lost Symbol. I haven't gotten to it yet, but it is about Freemasons! Love the photo of the white chairs at the back of the room. i'm always amused by how surprised I am at the beautiful architecture of Masonic Temples...out of all people, they'd be the ones to have incredible architecture, right?

Jessica said...

Wow! These are fantastic! I love how you didn't just stick to the outside of the building.

Sarah Lulu said...

Absolutely fascinating study.

We have a Masonic Lodge here in my town in Australia ..but I've never been in it!

A Scattering said...

I love this post! My Dad was a Mason and I remember being very impressed by his ceremonial apron when I was a small child. He was a member of an English (as opposed to Scottish) lodge. What a wonderful job you've done of showing the beauty of these lovely old objects in this special building. Gray and Geoff say "Hi Patty!" - there's a new photo on the way....

Patty said...

Wow! Everyone is reading Brown's book. Actually, I did not even know about it. I have not had time to keep up with books lately, or even TV. I wish I did.

No, this was accidental. I shot this two weeks ago. And it was the first building on my mind when the assignment was posted. I just lucked up finding someone there. And what a dear Harold was.

Mary said...

What a well kept building.

Bagman and Butler said...

What incredible fortune! The combination of access and light. And you mined it like Sherlock Holmes as if he partner was Henri Carier Bresson instead of Watson. A masterpiece. How old was that apple? Did you ever make your actual assignment? One of your best since your old black and white days.

Pauline said...

That was fascinating. I thought the Masons were all about secrecy! Love the two shots from 1910.

J9 said...

You were very fortunate to have seen the upstairs, and your free mason was very accomodating!

REDLAN said...

Wow great post Patty! I feel like i was with you as you tour inside the Crisfield Masonic Temple. As you tour upstairs I loved looking every photo. Thanks for sharing it's history. Good thing it's still well preserved and developed.

SOL said...

So many great shots! My three favorites are the dominoes, the light seen through the window, and the switch to turn up the heat.

Jen said...

Patty, you lucky lucky woman you! I have been reading about Masons...and here you were on a tour with a mason of the highest degree!

Stunning photos, my friend.

I think this is the coolest post ever. :)

Denise said...

fascinating. I just started reading Dan Browns latest book.

GigiSxm said...

loved the frosted windows

Ellisa said...

amazing shots. what great color and detail. Thanks for the insight!

Chef E said...

Okay you and I are definitely connected...we are 'nooks and crannies' people... so much in this world just waiting to see... and wanting to be...

Ann said...

ur Baptist Tabernacle is similar to your masonic building. Must be built the same time. I laughed when you remarked the floor.

Once we were cleaning the church, and we looked on the floor with all the high heel marks on the wooden floor.

Carrie said...

Thanks for the great tour! I love the columns and detailed work.

I absolutely love the shot with the globe. It is beautiful.

You had great timing showing up when people were there to show you around!