If you’re traveling to Philadelphia any time soon, you should plan a visit to the city’s incredible Masonic Temple. Designed by architect James Windrim, it took five years to construct the temple, at an astonishing cost of $1.6 million [an awful lot of money in 1873!].
Decorating the interior of the Philly Masonic Temple took a further twenty years to complete, and was performed under the close supervision of artist George Herzog. It is one of the most opulent Masonic lodges anywhere in the world, and currently serves as the meeting place for 28 Philadelphia lodges.
When you step inside the temple, you can’t help but be impressed. Replete with original artwork, stained glass, murals, and sculptures, it is not only a place to be enjoyed by Masons. The Masonic Temple is open for public tours, and attracts many visitors every year.
Within the exhibit hall, you can marvel at the grand assortment of treasures that paint a fascinating picture of the history of Freemasonry in America. The on-site museum was opened in 1908 by brother John Wanamaker. It consists of more than 30,000 items. The most notable item is brother George Washington’s Masonic apron, which was presented to the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania in 1829.
In addition to Masonic regalia, there are many historical Masonic prints, artworks, and various ceramics and glasses that have been collected over time. The museum presents the history of Freemasonry in America through the preservation of some wonderful artifacts, and is the ideal place for brothers to visit to learn more about the Craft.
Also at the temple is a comprehensive Masonic library. Founded in 1817, it houses and catalogues seminal works in Masonic history and preserves thousands of volumes that document the vast, intricate history of the Craft from its establishment, right through to the modern day.
They also boast an impressive collection of records, but these are only to be accessed by Freemasons who have held membership in Pennsylvania. The library is extremely proud to house an incunabulum [a book printed before 1501]. This particular piece contains The Wisdom of Solomon and is naturally of significant interest to brothers studying the allegory and rituals of the Craft.
As one of the finest Masonic temples found anywhere in the world, you should certainly make the effort to pay a visit when you’re next in Philadelphia. For more information about the history of the temple, and to find out more about the vast Masonic collections housed within, visit their website.