“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.
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.
These floors have seen a lot of traffic over the years.
And a lot of people have set in those benches and chairs.
Fading photograph of the laying of the cornerstone.
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