Saturday, August 27, 2016

‘Check out the Pennsylvania Academy in October’

The Pennsylvania Academy of Masonic Knowledge has announced the line-up of speakers for its October session. From the publicity:

Pennsylvania Academy
of Masonic Knowledge

Heather Calloway
Christopher Murphy
John Hairston

Saturday, October 15
Freemasons Cultural Center
Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania

Check back for topic information and biographies, coming soon!

The next session of the Academy of Masonic Knowledge will be held October 15, 2016, in the Deike Auditorium of the Freemasons Cultural Center on the campus of the Masonic Village in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania. Registration will open at 8:30 a.m. with the program beginning at 9:30 a.m. A lunch (requested contribution of $10) will be served at noon, and the program will be completed by 3 p.m. All Masons are welcome to attend. Dress is coat and tie.

Pre-registration is required.

To pre-register, please send your name, address, Lodge name and number, and telephone here.

Please recognize that a cost is incurred to the program for your registration. If you pre-register and subsequently determine that you will be unable to attend, please have the Masonic courtesy to cancel your reservation by the same method and providing the same information.

As noted above, the Academy will follow-up with the speakers’ bios and topics, but in the meantime, I can explain the little that I know.

Heather Calloway
Heather Calloway is Archivist & Special Collections Librarian and an Assistant Professor at George Washington College in Maryland. Her connection to Freemasonry runs deep, as she served the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite (Southern Jurisdiction) as Director of Programming, as the Museum Curator, and as the Digital Media Director at the House of the Temple in Washington, DC. Freemasonry runs in her family as well. You may have heard of Danny Calloway, a Past Grand Master of Masons in New Mexico. Heather is a favorite speaker among those of us who get around to such events. I look forward to hearing her again.

Chris Murphy
Christopher Murphy is the Charter Junior Warden of Fibonacci Lodge 112, the first Observant Lodge chartered by the Grand Lodge of Vermont. He is a full member of Vermont Lodge of Research 110, and is a member of the Philalethes Society. I think I saw somewhere on Facebook that he is to present his paper “The Tavern Myth” at the Academy. He has had this published in The Philalethes, but I do not know what it entails. I am wondering if it complements what Shawn Eyer has been saying for several years, and I am really eager to hear it for myself.

John Hairston
John Hairston is at labor in Harmony Lodge 2 under the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Washington, and is the author of Landmarks of Our Fathers: The Critical Analysis of the Start and Origin of African Lodge No. 1. It’s not just that he wrote a book. This brother wrote a book that cites research that could turn everything we think we know about African Lodge upside down. A compelling thesis I want to hear directly from the writer!

Let me also say it is not necessary to be a Pennsylvania Mason to attend the Academy’s sessions. Just follow the directions for registration and follow the directions on GPS, and you’ll be fine. I’ve been attending on and off for about seven years, and it’s always a great time. I don’t even mind the six-hour, 300-mile roundtrip. It’s that worthwhile.

Monday, August 22, 2016

‘The Royal Arch Pendant of a Civil War Hero’

The Livingston Library continues its outreach to the Masonic fraternity and the public—on a very regular basis apparently—and not just in the library. This event was announced today. From the publicity:

The Chancellor Robert R. Livingston
Masonic Library,
Proudly Present:

The Royal Arch Pendant of a Civil War Hero:
Sgt. William C. Lilly,

Courtesy George Washington Masonic Memorial

By Catherine Walter, Curator
Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Masonic Library

Friday, September 2
8 p.m.

Museum Village
1010 State Route 17M
Monroe, New York

Free and open to the public.
For information, call 845.476.8784.

Sgt. William C. Lilly was a true life hero of the Battle of Gettysburg, unlike the Friend to Friend myth. Read about him here.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

‘Traubenfest date set for October’

This just in: The Freemasons of the Ninth Manhattan District will host their annual Traubenfest on Sunday, October 2 at German Masonic Park in Tappan, New York. Gates will open at 11 a.m. Admission is only five bucks (but free for children under 14), and the event will open “rain or shine.”

It’s a fun day of enjoying German food, German beer, German band music, and all things German, and it is hosted by the German heritage lodges of the Grand Lodge of New York.

They now have a website. Click here for directions and other information.

By happy coincidence, Grand Master’s Day at DeWint House, only about a mile away in Tappan, also will take place that day, so do what I do and make a full day of it in that beautiful little town.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

‘Help Masons' Hall survive another 200 years’

Courtesy Masons' Hall 1785.

A treasure of an eighteenth century Masonic historic site in Virginia is in serious need of repair, and a fundraising effort is underway to secure the money needed to restore the building to greatness, and ensure its longevity far into the future. Even $5 donations are welcome.

Masons’ Hall in Richmond boasts a colorful history as both a Masonic and public space, involving historic figures within the fraternity and in American history. A charitable foundation named Masons’ Hall 1785 was established in 1997 to preserve the building, and to educate the public about its illustrious past.

Click here to donate greatly needed funds.

Give what you can. Perhaps induce your lodge and other Masonic groups to do likewise. Another way to give is to buy memorial bricks. Click here to pursue that avenue.

The following text comes from the foundation’s website and is copyright © 2016 Masons’ Hall 1785.


Richmond’s Shockoe bottom is home to a unique historical gem. Built 1785-87, Masons’ Hall, at 1807 East Franklin Street, is the oldest 18th century frame building with large public spaces in Virginia. The unusual heavy beam structure has been studied by architects and engineers.

Masons’ Hall is associated with Richmond’s leaders. The building was designed and constructed under the leadership of Edmund Randolph and John Marshall. Edmund Randolph was a prominent lawyer, governor, first United States Attorney General and Grand Master of Virginia Masons. Richmond Randolph Lodge No. 19 was named in his honor. Other grand masters with offices in Masons’ Hall included John Marshall, lawyer and judge, and Solomon Jacobs, Richmond mayor, businessman, and president of his congregation. The Virginia delegation to the Constitutional Convention met in Masons’ Hall before travelling to Philadelphia in 1787.

The building was a hospital during the War of 1812. The Marquis de Lafayette and his son (named George Washington in honor of the first president) visited Masons’ Hall and were made honorary members in 1824. Richmond City courts and council met in Masons’ Hall. Religious groups unwelcome elsewhere conducted services there during the 19th century. Eliza Poe, mother of Edgar Allen Poe, made her last performance at Masons’ Hall.

There are many interesting stories about Masons’ Hall. One is associated with the end of the Civil War. There was no battle of Richmond in April 1865. As Union armies approached from the southeast along Williamsburg Road, the city was evacuated. Chaos erupted and fires set to destroy military stores raged out of control and laid waste to much of the undefended city. The city fell prey to violence, looting. and rioting. The elderly mayor, under a fluttering white sheet, approached the Union army in a carriage with the urgent request for speed to advance and protect the citizens of the city. The Union army advanced, restored order, and extinguished the fires. Armed Union soldiers were immediately posted to protect three Richmond buildings, one of which was Masons’ Hall. President Lincoln walked near Masons’ Hall on his way to the Virginia Capitol on April 4, 1865, ten days before he was assassinated. Masons’ Hall survived the devastation of war. However, time has taken its toll.

A ceiling beam crack was discovered and a temporary brace installed. Other damage and deterioration were discovered. A comprehensive plan is being developed with the assistance of an architectural firm.

Masons’ Hall should be saved. It is in dire need of repair and restoration. Preliminary estimates exceed $2 million. It should be restored and made available to the public so future generations may visit this exciting and important structure and learn about those who served freedom and tolerance during times this nation was born and strived to survive. Masons’ Hall 1785, a charitable foundation, was established as a tax-exempt foundation by Richmond Circuit Court Judge James B. Wilkinson to preserve Masons’ Hall.

By Matthew Maggy
Richmond Freemasons

This week we will focus on Joseph Darmstadt, a Richmond Freemason, and first savior of Masons’ Hall. Darmstadt, with other Jews, played a vital role in the growth of Richmond, in civic, business, and cultural matters. He was originally a Hessian soldier. Hessians were German mercenaries hired by the British during the Revolutionary War, and nearly 30,000 of them fought against the American Revolution.

Joeseph Darmstadt was captured during the Battle of Saratoga and was taken to Virginia by American forces. Joseph remained in the Commonwealth after the Revolution, and not long after, he renounced his foreign allegiance, settled in Richmond, and became an auctioneer and merchant in Richmond serving the German farmers of the Shenandoah Valley. His morning ritual of serving coffee on the Shockoe Market made his store a favorite meeting place for local merchants to catch up on news and gossip of the day.

Joseph played a role in the establishment of the first Jewish Congregation in Richmond about 1789. Kahal Kadosh Beth Shalome was the sixth and westernmost congregation in the colonies, and one of the six that congratulated George Washington upon his inauguration as first president. The 1790 census shows Richmond with the fourth largest Jewish population, following only New York, Charleston and Philadelphia. The first Jewish burial ground in the state was established on Franklin Street in 1791 and, the first synagogue was dedicated on Mayo Street in 1822.

He was also an involved Freemason and active member of Richmond No. 10, an original owner of Masons’ Hall, and as a Grand Lodge officer, after he played a vital role in the establishment of the Grand Lodge of Virginia.

Joseph Darmstadt is likely the first person who should be credited with first saving Masons’ Hall.

In 1791, a considerable sum was owed to the contractors who had erected Masons’ Hall and the contractor had filed a lien that would have forced the sale of the building. Joseph, a generous man, assumed the burden and soon after advanced the money to meet the debt of 247 pounds. Calculated for inflation that would equal $53,000 in 2016. His generosity stopped the sale of the building and has allowed for the building to be used without interruption for the last 227 years!

Sadly Masons’ Hall needs your help today. Five dollar donations are being collected. Please help save this original piece of American history.

If you are interested in more information on the history of Jews in Richmond, please visit Beth Ahabah Museum and Archives.

For more on Masons’ Hall, visit Cornerstone of Richmond here.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

‘Art, Science, and Spirituality’

I think I see a pattern emerging: On the last Thursday of the month, the Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Masonic Library is the place to be. On the evening of Thursday the 25th, the library will host Armin Kuljiš who will present “Art, Science, and Spirituality.” From the publicity:

Art, Science, and Spirituality
Presented by Armin Kuljiš
Thursday, August 25
6:30 p.m.
Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Masonic Library
of the Grand Lodge of New York
71 West 23rd Street
14th Floor

Based on three key elements: art, science, and spirituality, Armin Kuljiš’ mission is to “awake consciousness” of the miracle and beauty of life, from the simplest to the most complex events. He seeks to transmit this combination of thoughts, feelings and knowledge through his artwork, which includes painting, drawing, engraving, urban art, digital design, and photography. Armin’s art flows by either combining techniques or applying each one of them separately. Within its abstract, nature many of his pieces have a strong spiritual content amalgamated with miscellaneous shapes, colors, and architectonic designs. Through his photography, enriched with light, shade, and beautiful reflections, Armin invites us to focus our attention on the magnificence of simple daily life images.

“Serendipia” represents the way Armin Kuljiš—through lines, strokes, and highlights—lets and makes things happen to share his gratefulness for life. It is also an invitation to enjoy art from different perspectives.

Armin Kuljis was born in La Paz, Bolivia in 1981. He graduated as an Architect Summa Cum Laude from Universidad de Aquino in La Paz in 2005. Later, his passion for art and culture brought him to Mexico City, where he also earned a Master’s Degree in Architecture with an honorable mention at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México in 2009. In order to enrich his techniques, Armin studied painting, drawing, and composition, screen painting art and engraving at the Real Academia San Carlos in Mexico City. In addition, he worked as a professor at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels at the Universidad La Salle in Mexico.

From 2007 to 2015, Armin has participated in several collective and individual art exhibits in Bolivia, Mexico, and the United States. As an artist, his main source of inspiration is nature in all its manifestations, and he devotes an important amount of time studying and teaching architectural biomimechry and sacred geometry.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

‘New book on Masonic art and architecture’

A new book concerning Freemasonry in New York is just out. Symbols in the Wilderness: Early Masonic Survivals in Upstate New York is co-authored by Christian Goodwillie and Joselyn Godwin, and tells the story of the fraternity’s art and architecture during the Federal period. From the publicity:

Symbols in the Wilderness: Early Masonic Survivals in Upstate New York by Director of Special Collections Christian Goodwillie, began with a chance glance at a building as he drove to Cooperstown, New York. Intrigued by the structure, Western Star Lodge chartered in 1797 and now the Bridgewater Masonic Lodge, he became even more interested in the artwork it once housed. Thus Goodwillie’s exploration of Masonic symbols – expressed in paintings, murals, textiles, and graphics – began.

The resulting book, co-authored by Colgate University Professor of Music Emeritus Joselyn Godwin, provides documentation and analysis of Upstate New York’s hidden heritage of Masonic buildings and material culture from the 18th and early 19th century. It is co-published by Hamilton College’s Richard W. Couper Press and Colgate University’s Upstate Institute. Hamilton’s Digital Imagery Specialist Marianita Peaslee produced the volume’s many color images.

Freemasonry played a vital role in the social development of New York State. Its Lodges provided a trusted place for newcomers to meet and for friendships and business partnerships to develop, free from political, professional and sectarian differences. During its explosive growth from 1790 to the end of the 1820s, Masonic brethren produced iconic architecture, as well as extraordinary examples of folk art. Most of these have remained entirely unknown outside the Upstate lodges that, against all hazards, have preserved them. Their symbolism seems mysterious and confusing to outsiders, but once explained, offers insight into a period and place unique in American history.

A presentation and book-signing is scheduled with the co-authors on Sunday, August 21 at Johnson Hall in Johnstown, New York at 1 p.m.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

‘Flag waving at Nutley Lodge’

Being that it’s been a month and a half since this event, I’d better stop procrastinating and get to it before my memory is old enough to qualify for a Flashback Friday post, but I had a great time at Nutley Masonic Lodge No. 25 in New Jersey on June 20. Having been invited to speak by Worshipful Master Joel (I think I’ve appeared at Nutley as a guest speaker more often than at anywhere else) in proximity to Flag Day, I presented a review of the symbolism displayed in a number of U.S. state flags. Not all 50, but about 20 of the most interesting. Needless to say several of these flags are most conspicuous to the initiated eye.

There is no reasonable claim of Freemasonry influencing these flag designs in any way, but I hoped to illustrate how instructive images Masons use are found in major and official public symbols also. I didn’t prepare much in formal remarks, so what follows are simply some notes concerning each flag.

Bro. Dave, Master of the local Rose Croix Chapter and a member of Nutley Lodge, was instrumental in bringing me back to the lectern, so of course I was sure to begin with this flag: Louisiana.

One of the alternate names of the Rose Croix Degree is Knight of the Eagle and Pelican, and one of the key symbols of the degree shows the pelican in her piety, a metaphor for love and sacrifice. For the purposes of Louisiana, the flag’s symbolism is Roman Catholic, but if you’ve read Manly Hall’s The Secret Teachings of All Ages you probably recall the above illustration, a full-page, by Augustus Knapp, showing the full Rose Croix imagery.

Utah – The Beehive is one of my favorite Masonic symbols, and it is not uniquely Masonic. It is widely understood as a symbol of industry, but considering Freemasonry’s significance to Mormonism, which begat the State of Utah, it is an apt choice for the flag.

Alabama – St. Andrew’s Cross: St. Andrew is the patron saint of Scottish Freemasonry. This X-shape is the cross on which Andrew was crucified.

Alaska – Astronomy: the North Star and the Big Dipper.

Arizona – “As the sun rises in the East,” or sets in the West as the case may be. Thirteen rays = the original states. The colors are from the flag of Spain. The star symbolizes the copper mining industry.

Maine – We see the North Star again. “Dirigo” means “I lead.” For the Masonic eye, we have the anchor at right. The symbol of Hope.

New Jersey! – Liberty holds a staff topped with the red cap. This hat was presented to freed Roman slaves, and it appears in several state flags. The shield shows three plows to symbolize the agriculture of the Garden State. At right is the ancient goddess Ceres (grain) holding none other than the cornucopia.

New Mexico – Sometimes simple is best. What we have here is another sun symbol. There are four angles of a square. Four parts of a circle. This is a sacred symbol of the Zia tribe of Native Americans. Four is the sacred number denoting the circle of life; the four cardinal directions; four seasons; four elements.

New York – Another radiant sun. Justice stands at right with the scales—another Scottish Rite symbol. There’s that Roman slave cap again at left. The body of water is the mighty Hudson River.

Oklahoma – I included this because it has a smoking pipe. Lots of Native American symbolism built into this. That’s an olive branch.

Rhode Island – The anchor of Hope most prominently.

Virginia – Left breast bared! This is Virtus, goddess of virtue. Sic Semper Tyrannis means Thus Always to Tyrants—what John Wilkes Booth shouted after shooting President Lincoln. This was designed by George Wythe, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, but not a Freemason.

Washington, DC – Taken from the coat of arms of the Washington family–not just George Washington, but his ancestors dating to the 12th century. Benjamin Franklin said this emblem partially inspired the look of the U.S. flag. It also appears on the Purple Heart.

Magpie file photo
Washington State – Kind of speaks for itself. This Grand Lodge of New York apron is worn by RW Bro. Bill Mauer, a noted historian and trustee of DeWint House, the Washington Headquarters in Tappan.

West Virginia – The Latin motto means “Mountaineers are always free.” On top of the crossed rifles is that slave’s red cap again. To the left we see an ear of corn and also a bushel of wheat. June 20 is today: the anniversary of the state’s admission to the Union.

Wisconsin – Masonic symbols: the anchor, the cornucopia, the spade & pickaxe, as in Royal Arch Masonry.

Flag images courtesy

Monday, August 1, 2016

‘Looking to October in Tappan’

Magpie file photo
DeWint House historic site, owned and maintained by the Grand Lodge
of New York for the enjoyment of the public, located in Tappan, NY.

It’s hard to think of October right now, but Grand Master’s Day will take place Sunday, October 2 at DeWint House in Tappan, New York.

Masons, family, and friends are invited to take part in what I consider to be one of the most enjoyable afternoons on the Masonic calendar. I have been attending since, I think, 2009, and the weather has been perfect all but once, and even that was just a little brief rain.

A terrific buffet brunch (the most important meal between breakfast and lunch!) at The ’76 House (110 Main Street, Tappan) begins at 11 a.m. Seating is very limited, so advance payment is required to hold your place. Those details still to come.

At 1 p.m., the festivities at DeWint House (20 Livingston Avenue, Tappan) will begin. The program details are still to come.

Click here to see more of this wonderful historic site and museum, but better yet, get there some time to visit. If you cannot attend Grand Master’s Day, go to DeWint House during its regular hours and see this treasure for yourself.