ne of the wonders of the Masonic world is the Masonic Temple located at Broad and Filbert Streets, adjacent to City Hall Plaza in Philadelphia.|
ince its dedication in 1873, this architectural jewel has attracted hundreds of thousands of Brethren and visitors to the mother city of Freemasonry in America. The magnificent Temple, which is the home of The Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Pennsylvania, is unlike anything else in the nation, or the world, according to architects and artists, structural engineers and scholars. The majestic turrets and spires of the Masonic Temple stand out symbolically as they form part of Philadelphia's center city skyline.
reemasonry evolved from a line of Master Builders, and the Temple, from pavement to turret and all through its halls, speaks in the language of architecture. Our mystic ancestors in Egypt, Greece, Italy, Germany, France, Scotland and England are all suggested by the designs which distinguish the Lodge rooms.
n July 1, 1867, The Right Worshipful Grand Lodge of the Most Ancient and Honorable Fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons of Pennsylvania and Masonic Jurisdiction Thereunto Belonging purchased the site for the Temple. The plot, 149 by 245 feet, includes a complete block bounded by Broad, Filbert, Juniper and Cuthbert Streets, and was purchased for $156,793.16 (Records of the Building Committee of the New Masonic Temple). Brother James H. Windrim, a Member of Philadelphia Lodge No. 72, was the architect. The Temple cost $1,600,000.00 exclusive of decorations and furnishings.
he Cornerstone was laid on Saint John the Baptist's Day, June 24, 1868, in the northeast corner of the foundation wall by Brother Richard Vaux, Right Worshipful Grand Master. The granite Cornerstone, from the Havre-de-Grace quarries, is five feet 6 1/2 inches long, two feet 4 1/2 inches deep, and four feet 9 1/2 inches wide. It weighs between nine and ten tons. The Gavel used on this occasion was the one Brother George Washington used to lay, with Masonic ceremony, the Cornerstone of the Nation's Capitol at Washington, D.C., on September 18, 1793.
he Temple was Dedicated on Friday, September 26, 1873, the eighty-seventh anniversary of the independence of The Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Pennsylvania, by Brother Samuel C. Perkins, Right Worshipful Grand Master. A Masonic parade, divided into twenty-six divisions and including 14,000 marchers, was held in honor of the Dedication.
he exterior of the building at Broad and Filbert Streets is of Cape Ann syenite, which takes its name from Syne in Upper Egypt, where it was quarried for monuments by the ancient Egyptians. The Juniper and Cuthbert Street exteriors are of Fox Island granite from the coast of Maine. In accordance with Masonic tradition, the stones were cut, squared, marked and numbered at the quarries and brought to the Temple ready for use.
he two Grand Towers are extremely prominent and are known as the Northwest and Southwest Towers. The height of the Southwest Tower at Broad and Filbert Streets is 250 feet. It was necessary to lay the foundation thirty-one feet below street level.
levations on Broad and Filbert Streets are perfect specimens of Norman architecture -- bold and elaborate. The elevations on Juniper and Cuthbert are beautiful and impressive, but plain, due to the narrow streets.
nside, on the north side of the building are the private suite of the Right Worshipful Grand Master, the Grand Banquet Hall, and Oriental Hall. On the south side are the offices of the Grand Secretary, Grand Treasurer, and the administrative staff of the Grand Lodge. More offices are upstairs on the third floor, also on the south side: those of the Grand Holy Royal Arch Chapter, Grand Commandery of Knights Templar and the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite's Valley of Philadelphia.
n the second floor of the Temple are Corinthian, Renaissance, Ionic, Egyptian and Norman Halls. Gothic Hall is on the third floor. From the eastern end of the second floor corridor, two curved cantilevered stairways lead to the third floor, whose corridor has many panel decorations representing varied types of ancient architecture and embellishments. The stairwell walls are decorated with murals--depictions of celebrated masterpieces of ancient Egypt, 2000 B.C.; Assyria, 900 B.C.; Athens, 600 B.C.; Rome, 500 B.C.; Jerusalem, 700 A.D.; Roslyn Chapel, 1200 A.D.; Temple of the Dioscuri and Temple of Vesta. At the other end of this magnificent stairway, in the basement, are seven committee rooms, offices, four banquet rooms, a large kitchen, shop and other mechanical equipment.
orinthian and Renaissance Halls, what is now the Benjamin Franklin Room, the Grand Banquet Hall and the Grand Master's suite were completed under the direction of the Committee on Temple. Gothic Hall, in the beginning, was decorated largely by contributions collected by Commanderies meeting in Philadelphia.
n addition to Grand Lodge, the Masonic Bodies meeting in the Temple include Blue Lodges, Mark Lodges, Chapters, Councils, Commanderies, Schools of Instruction, Masonic Veterans, Masonic Ancients and the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite, Valley of Philadelphia.
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