Volume LIIIAugust 2006Number 3

Masonic Temple Update
by Andrew A. Zellers-Frederick, Executive Director, The Masonic Library and Museum of Pennsylvania

The Masonic Temple is truly one of the wonders of the Masonic world and deserves its high recognition from the U.S. Department of the Interior as a National Historic Landmark. Over the past six months, there has been renewed activity for making the Masonic Temple a leader in the cultural and civic community of the Greater Philadelphia Region, as well as for saving this irreplaceable building for future generations. Some of these endeavors include:
  • The April 17th Masonic Memorial Service for Bro. Benjamin Franklin. Freemasons and general citizens from throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania joined together to honor the man who played a vital role in shaping the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania and the future of America on the actual 216th Anniversary of his passing. As part of the official Benjamin Franklin Tercentenary Celebration, we collaborated with many of the region's and country's venerable cultural institutions on this important venture, which was extensively covered by the news media.
  • To physically protect the Masonic Temple, R.W. Grand Master Ronald A. Aungst, Sr., has initiated a major preservation project to eliminate harmful humidity within the building and stabilize its climate control systems. This project will entail six months of intense studies and substantial work which is guaranteed to be completely successful.
  • There have been several important documentaries on various historical subjects connected with Freemasonry filmed in the Masonic Temple over the last several months. Film companies representing the British Broadcasting Corporation and the Discovery Channel extensively used the Masonic Temple's beautiful Egyptian Hall and other sections of the building for their productions. Donations were given to the Masonic Temple for its use by these companies. The broadcasts of these productions may be sometime in 2007.
  • The Masonic Temple's utilization is also being expanded so that it can be employed to its fullest potential. In addition to the loyal use of the building by our many lodges, outside organizations now also have the opportunity to hold events and programs here. Recently, the University of Pennsylvania conducted a special seminar on cancer in Oriental Hall, and other similar functions are scheduled for the future. On the horizon are other special programs which will attract new visitors to the Masonic Temple and also provide us with opportunities to raise needed funding for the building's preservation and restoration. Included in this list is a November 11 seminar on William Rush (the great 18th- 19th century American sculptor whose works are displayed throughout the building) to honor the 250th Anniversary of his birth; the restructuring and reorganization of the Gift Shop, resulting in a traditional historical interpretive sales center like those found in most museums and national parks; fall public lectures through the Pennsylvania Humanities Council on important Freemasons such as Benjamin Franklin and Baron von Steuben; and a wealth of collaborative events with other cultural and nonprofit organizations. However, one of our largest and most exciting undertakings to date is the daily opening of our main door on North Broad Street for all of our visitors and guests. This physical, as well as symbolic, measure is indicating that all are welcome here to the Masonic Temple.
The Masonic Temple's beautiful Egyptian Hall, which several film companies plan to feature in upcoming productions The breathtaking Oriental Hall of the Masonic Temple, which was recently the site for a special seminar conducted by the University of Pennsylvania

Each program, project and event is designed to promote the Masonic Temple and support the preservation and restoration efforts for this architectural and historic wonder. If you have never visited, or it has been a while since you have, please put the Masonic Temple on your travel plans for this summer. You will not be disappointed.

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