The Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons

Masonic Temple, Philadelphia

Masonic Temple, Philadelphia

Masonic Temple, Philadelphia

Masonic Temple, Philadelphia

Masonic Temple, Philadelphia

Masonic Temple, Philadelphia

Masonic Temple, Philadelphia

It might seem like a strange request, wanting to take a tour of the Masonic Temple (sorry, the “The Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons”) on my birthday, but you haven’t seen this building in person. It takes up a full street corner next to City Hall, and is enormous and imposing and, let’s admit it, more than a little mysterious. I’ve always been curious about the Free Masons. What is it that they do? Why do they need a giant building right in the middle of the city? What goes on inside this giant lodge? For $10, we took an hour-long guided tour of seven of the Temple’s meeting rooms and learned about the architecture and famous Masons in history (including at least six former Presidents). It felt like being in a Dan Brown novel. I contemplated going rogue and breaking off from the tour group once every five minutes; what’s behind that door? Why can’t we go down that hallway? But then Jamal astutely pointed out that maybe my best course of action wasn’t to attempt to infiltrate a secret society, lest I conveniently disappear. The tour was great, and I’d highly recommend it as an off-the-beaten-tourist-track activity if you’re ever in Philadelphia, but I still have no idea what Free Masons do or why they need such an ornate, four-story gothic temple to do it in, or even why they need seven different meeting rooms (at least! Those are just the ones we were allowed to visit).

Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, 1 North Broad Street, Philadelphia / Tours: Tuesday – Friday: 10, 11, 1, 2, and 3PM / Saturday: 10AM, 11AM, & 12 Noon

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December 22, 2014 / art / photo / LEAVE A COMMENT / 18

18 comments

  • Mark Strong in Guy Richie’s Sherlock Hoomes – THAT’S what they do x

    • :( I don’t get that reference as I’ve never seen that version! xo

  • that building is beautiful. my uncle (cousin? i can never remember which he is) he was a freemason, but his lodge didn’t look like this at all. i think he was a deacon too. busy guy. now he lives in the country and just smokes a lot of pot.

    anyhoo, i have watched history channel shows on the masons, read up about them, but i never remember a single thing. for some reason the history of the freemasons just doesn’t stick with me. i always do recall it wasn’t nearly as macabre as i had originally thought and that, yes, there were a lot of famous freemasons.

    • I’ve been meaning to watch a documentary they have on Netflix about the “Secrets of the Freemasons,” but one of the things the Freemason who led the tour made clear was that nothing about their organization is really secret, they’ve been fairly forthcoming with information about their organization, and you can find out anything on the internet, really. I’m afraid that the truth will be a bit of a let down compared to what I’ve built it up to be in my head ;) xo

  • I have a friend whose dad was a Mason and back in high school she told us all sorts of secrets. Probably not kosher and best that I can’t remember them now. And my own Granddad was a Mason but he was very wise and told us NOTHING. Beautiful building.

    • Haha, I found out that my grandfather was a Freemason, too! I had no idea, and my mom only remembered that he wore a fez and had something to do with “Lulu,” which…I mean, if those aren’t two of the most intriguing details about Freemasons, I don’t know what are ;) xo

  • oh my – it is so gorgeous! all of the architectural details, i could get lost gazing at room after room.

    • It was so, so, so stunning. I couldn’t even capture it accurately or adequately. You have to visit! xo

  • or why they don’t allow women? that still bothers me. not that i want to join, but come on, it’s the 21st century after all. apparently, they slowly start to accept females. still. what are those guys up to??? great pics :)

    • I’ve wondered that, too! Stop me if this is jokingly misogynistic, but I know I for one would NEVER be able to keep my mouth shut once I learned what really goes on there, haha. xo

  • Oh wow, such an awesome tour, the masons have always seemed like such a mystery to me, I didnt even hear anything about it until I was about 17!

    • I can’t remember when I first was aware of them, but they’ve held a deep fascination for me ever since. I guarantee there is a lodge near you in the UK you could visit, too! They are international (I learned that on the tour!). xo

  • Shawn and I are planning a mid-week two-night getaway downtown for January… I know he would enjoy checking this out! Thanks for the heads up!

    • You guys would love it, you have to go! I have tons of restaurant suggestions near the lodge, too, if you’re interested! xo

      • Yes, please! Nothing too fancy… Shawn doesn’t really do fancy.
        We’re planning on visiting some museums and eating LOTS of food and drinking lots of drinks.

  • The Masons and their history is fascinating. My father has been invited to join several times, turned them down every time. I actually got miffed when I found that out. Only because I want to fulfill my undying curiosity of what goes on at their meetings. Are they planning world domination? I need to know!

    • Oooh, no wonder you were miffed! I kept encouraging Jamal to join so he could tell me all the secrets, too. He was not sold on it :) xo

  • Definitely like the inside of Dan Brown novel – how cool