Wednesday, January 5, 2011

‘Masonic Hall centenary’

This edition of The Magpie Mason is the first in an attempt to rectify past negligence in blogging (a Class C misdemeanor in several states). There are 10 or maybe more events from 2010 that I never got around to sharing with you – lectures, ceremonies, etc. – and before we get too far into 2011, I’ll try to catch up on last year’s happenings. No lengthy accounts, but some good photos.

The Mgmt.

In the name of Freemasonry, Virtue, and Universal Benevolence, Most Worshipful Vincent Libone, Grand Master of Masons in the State of New York, rededicated Masonic Hall December 5, 2010, in a public ceremony commemorating the 100th anniversary of the GLNY’s current headquarters in New York City.

The ceremonial representation of the lodge.

The blade of the ceremonial trowel used
for the cornerstone-laying in 1908.

Proclamations from Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the New York City Council, and Gov. David Paterson were presented. Bro. Dick Gottfried, who represents the 75th District (Masonic Hall’s neighborhood) in the State Assembly, offered remarks as well.

Secretary Lenny Kagan and
Worshipful Master Michael Daniels
of Shakespeare Lodge No. 750.

Grand Post, of Masonic War Veterans,
presents the colors.

Grand Master Vincent Libone
inspects the ritual working tools.

MW Libone applies the ritual
elements of consecration.

The Grand Honors.

Mr. Peter Chiofolo, the gentleman responsible for keeping Masonic Hall well lighted, heated or cooled, and otherwise operational was among those saluted by the brethren. He admitted he would rather have been anywhere else but in the spotlight, but he earned a robust round of applause.

I do not know whose idea it was to add opera singers to the program as the event’s entertainment, but it was a great choice. Brilliant. W. Bro. Valentin Peytchinov, Past Master of King Solomon-Beethoven Lodge No. 232, with a soprano whose name I didn’t catch, absolutely thrilled everyone in the room. The Grand Lodge Room is enormous, taking two stories of the building itself, which is good because a smaller room would have been blown apart by their voices, and you don’t want to trash the place whose hundredth birthday you’re celebrating!

Performing a scene from Mozart’s
The Marriage of Figaro.

The duo also sang selections from The Barber of Seville by Rossini; Die Fledermaus by Johan Strauss; and Don Giovanni, also by Mozart. In addition, the young soprano sang “Hallelujah” from Mozart’s Exultate Jubilate, accompanied by the Grand Organist.

From a handbill distributed at the ceremony:

Masonic Hall, the historic landmark building on West 24th Street and Avenue of the Americas, and its connected twin structure on West 23rd Street, were constructed on this location in 1910 and 1912 respectively – the second building known as Masonic Hall to stand at this site. The buildings were designed and constructed by architect H.P. Knowles. Today marks the centennial of the West 24th Street building.

Freemasonry in New York dates back to 1757. From 1827 until 1856, the first Masonic Hall in the City of New York was located further downtown, between Duane and Pearl streets. On this site in 1875, the second Masonic Hall, a classic five-story building designed by the noted American architect Napoleon LeBrun, was built.

The present Masonic Hall is home to the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of New York, and houses the offices of the Grand Secretary and the Trustees of the Masonic Hall and Asylum Fund. It also is the meeting place of many local Masonic lodges and affiliated organizations. Masonic Hall also is home of the renowned Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Masonic Library.

The building has been restored through the years to reflect the inspired architecture and beauty of the original structure, often hailed as one of the most magnificent Masonic buildings in the world. The most recent renovation, conducted in the 1980s and ’90s, demonstrates the work of Felix Chavez.

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