The Masonic Temple of Philadelphia - Cult or Just Some Dudes Chillin?
Earlier this week I found out that one of my friend's Dads was just inducted into the Masons and it re-sparked my interest in these crazy ass old dudes and their mysterious culty ways. On Thursday I decided to further explore the topic by visiting The Masonic Temple of Philadelphia with the aforementioned West Coaster, Bert. I had been to the Grand Lodge at Broad and Market once before in 2005 but I forget a lot of stuff and so I decided to go again.
Firstly, let me point out that I forgot my camera. I'll be using some photos from the website to spruce things up a bit so forgive me if they're kind of lame. Secondly, this has nothing to do with vegan food. Oh well.
Our tour guide was the Executive Director of the museum and library on site, and also an 18th century historian, so he was kind of bookish (pun intended) and also a bit droll. ALSO he used kept deferring to the phrase "That's not really my century of expertise" when we bombarded him with questions. The tour started at 4 and as we arrived at 3:56 we didn't have much time to browse the museum which seemed chock full of all the cool shit that I'm into (note: once I found out that you could buy almost anything emblazoned with the Mason logo in the gift shop, it lost pretty much all cache). The hour long tour consisted of getting to peek at the 7 main rooms of the lodge, all decorated with really intricate and ostentatious themes (Corinthian, Ionic, Gothic, Oriental, Egyptian, Norman and Renaissance). My favorite was Corinthian:
This staircase was pretty killer as well:
In each room we heard a bit of architectural background, as well as some fun facts about building upkeep or alternate uses (they now have weddings in the Masonic Temple but the rooms are so ornate and lavish that it sometimes takes attention away from the bride!). As we were both totally siked at the opportunity to try to unwrap some of the top secrets of the Masons, we asked a lot of questions. Apparently to be a Mason you have to be a man, believe in a single higher deity ("Whatever it may be", yeah right!) and be of high moral fiber. Bert asked if people ever try to swear on a controversial deity, like the devil, and the guide said he couldn't really share that information. I asked what the wires strung across the ceiling about an arms length above my head were for and the guide answered, "Those are part of the secret ritual. I don't see why everyone gets so excited about the ritual." Probably because it's top secret, dude.
For more information, check out the Masonic Temple website (there are some pretty rad 360-degree views of all the rooms and a self guided online tour with information next to each photo). Or if you prefer the real deal, it's $6 for students (yeah, I still use my ID!) or $8 for adults, at Broad and Market. Just don't ask what the swords are for, I'm not sure I want to know either....