The General Meeting of the Square Club of the 4th Masonic District of Manhattan

By Catherine M. Walter, Curator and Ratirat Osiri, Assistant Curator

On November 14, 2018, The Square Club of the Fourth Masonic District of Manhattan, Inc. held a General Meeting Festive Board in the Ionic Room at Masonic Hall in New York City.  At the meeting, the Square Club hosted RW Demetrios G. Melis, Secretary of the Library’s Board of Trustees, who presented a brief lecture on the history of the Fourth Manhattan District and its Square Club. The  Square Club can be considered one of the oldest District Associations in the Grand Lodge of New York, being a direct successor to the Square Club of the Seventh Masonic District of Manhattan, which existed as early as the 1890s.

The Fourth Masonic District of Manhattan was originally formed from 22 Lodges of the Sixth and Seventh Districts in the 1918 state-wide reorganization of the Districts of the Grand Lodge of New York. Those 22 Lodges included (to this day) Kane Lodge No. 454, the “Explorers’ Lodge,” and St. Cecile Lodge No. 568, the state’s first daylight “Lodge of the Arts.” This Lodge has special Dispensation to meet during the day, due to its membership which was largely formed of performers who could not meet at night.

Through the work of Ms. Catherine M. Walter, Curator, and Ms. Ratirat Osiri, Assistant Curator, with the assistance of Mr. Joseph Patzner, Librarian, the Livingston Masonic Library and Museum was pleased to present a Temporary Exhibit highlighting some of the fascinating artifacts held in the collections which came from Lodges in the Fourth Manhattan District. The attendees stated that they greatly appreciated the Special Exhibit and extended their grateful thanks to the Library staff for their work illuminating the history of their Lodges and Districts.

Fourth Masonic District of Manhattan
Image Courtesy RW Melis.

The Lodges of the Fourth Manhattan District, their organizational histories and the displayed artifacts are highlighted below.

Heritage Lodge No. 371 was formed in 1996 with the merger of Sagamore Lodge No. 371 and Corinthian Architect Lodge No. 488. It the existent Lodge after the previous mergers of Greenwich Lodge No. 467 and Sagamore-Naphthali Lodge No. 371 in 1971, and Corinthian Lodge No. 488 and Architect Lodge No. 519 in 1967. On display in the Exhibit was the below 1905 Member Pendant from the 50th Anniversary of Sagamore Lodge No. 371 [J6inv-654]. Sagamore Lodge No. 371 was warranted on July 3, 1855).

Compact Lodge No. 402 was formed in 1979 with the merger of Crescent Lodge No. 402 and Monitor Mosaic Lodge No. 418, and is the existent Lodge after the merger of Mosaic Lodge No. 418 and Monitor Lodge NO. 528 in 1971. On display in the Exhibit was the below 1903 Ashtray commemorating Crescent Lodge No. 402’s One Thousandth Communication [I38]. Crescent Lodge No. 402 was warranted on July 3, 1856. 

Image by Ratirat Osiri

Franklin Lodge No. 447 was warranted on June 25, 1858. On display in the Exhibit was the below Past Master’s Jewel, which is engraved with the following: “Presented by Franklin Lodge No. 447 F & AM to W.B Barnett Woolf as a token of their Appreciation of the Manner he presided Over them during 1864, 1865 & 1867. Re-presented by Franklin Lodge No. 447 to Wor. Bro. Isaac J. Woolf, on his installation as Master Dec. 17th, 1917.” Franklin Lodge No. 447 was warranted on June 25, 1858.


The existent Manahatta Lodge No. 449 was formed after a 1975 merger of Hiram Lodge No. 449 and Manahatta Lodge No. 489. On display in the Exhibit was the below 1900 lapel pin from Hiram Lodge No. 449, a Lodge with a quite complicated history. Its initial warrant was dated March 10, 1783, having been formed by members of No. 213 Army Lodge under the English registry. It became No. 7 in the renumbering of June 3, 1789, and then became No. 10 in the renumbering of June 4, 1819. On December 1, 1830, it’s number changed to No. 9 in the Proceedings.

On December 3, 1834, its warrant was suspended, and soon thereafter, surrendered. There was an attempted revival in 1852 by the Phillips Grand Lodge, which failed, and the warrant was again surrendered. A Petition to revive the warrant was made on February 6, 1858, and the warrant was revived on February 9, 1859 by the Grand Master of the Phillips Grand Lodge, in which it became No. 148. At the union of the Phillips Grand Lodge and the regular Grand Lodge of New York on August 4, 1858, it received the number 449. More research would need to be done to discover why the lapel pin marks 1792 as an important date for the Lodge.


Kane Lodge No. 454 was warranted on June 9, 1854. On display in the Exhibit was a 1900 Program for a Dinner to Kane Lodge No. 55, New Jersey, by Kane Lodge No. 454, NY. Included in the Program was a signed engraving by Jacques Reich of Elisha Kent Kane. Kane Lodge No. 454 maintains their own Museum at the Grand Lodge of New York which highlights their explorer members who traveled to and discovered the North Pole. 

Not on display in the Special Exhibit, but related to Kane Lodge No. 454, is this walrus tusk, signed by Rear Admiral Robert Edwin Peary, Sr. (b. 1856 – d. 1920). Brother Peary, the discoverer of the North Pole in 1909, was a member of Kane Lodge No. 454, being Raised in 1896. The tusk above was donated to the Library in 2003 by Mrs. Lois Morgante,  the widow of RW Rinaldo Morgante (b. 1923 – d. 2003), a Past Master of Yonkers Lodge No. 882 and the former Grand Representative of the Grand Lodge of Panama near the Grand Lodge of New York. This tusk may be a match to one that was made into a gavel for Peary Lodge No. 997 and presented to the Lodge by RW A. J. Squires.
Image by Catherine M. Walter

Columbian Lodge No. 484 was warranted on June 15, 1860. On display in the Exhibit was the below Medal commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Lodge in 1910.

Pyramid Lodge No. 490 was warranted on June 3, 1856 by the revived St. John’s Grand Lodge, and was granted a new warrant from the regular Grand Lodge on June 8, 1860. On display in the Exhibit was the below medal from their 50th Anniversary in 1910.


Park Lodge No. 516 was warranted on June 5, 1862. The first communication of Park Lodge was held at Washington
Hall, 683 Eighth Avenue, on Wednesday evening, July 11, A.L.
5860, under a Dispensation granted by MW John W. Simons, Grand Master.

An early petitioner to Park Lodge was Peter Hart, who distinguished himself as one of the first heroes of the Civil War. Of this Brother, “Leslie’s History of New York” commented: “With Major Anderson at Fort Sumter was Peter Hart, a soldier who had served with him in the Mexican campaigns. Hart was a native New Yorker and had once been a sergeant on the New York Police force. Nine times during the bombardment of Fort Sumter, the Stars and Stripes were pierced by shots from Confederate
batteries. At last a ball struck the staff and down came Old Glory to the dust. Thereupon, Peter Hart climbed to the top and nailed the flag to it while shot and shell were pouring all around him in a hissing shower. It remained in its proud position for two days until the surrender on April 14, 1861. It is worthy to note among the historic memories of the times a New Yorker saved the Stars and Stripes from falling in the first historic battle of the Great Civil War.” 
A postcard in the collection which references the Lodge was not placed on display in the Exhibit, but is featured below.


In 1861, Brother and Sergeant Peter Hart, member of Park Lodge No. 516, saved the flag at Fort Sumter, returning with it in 1865 with Brother and General Robert Anderson, a member of Mercer Lodge No. 50, Trenton, NJ, and an honorary member of Pacific Lodge No. 233, NY.
Image by Catherine M. Walter

Gramercy Lodge No. 537 was warranted on June 17, 1863. A large coaster which was not placed on display for the Exhibit is featured below.

This artifact features an event on November 20, 1926, held by Gramercy Lodge No. 537 at Hotel Astor, the year in which W..Dudley C. Coverley served as Master. This hotel was on Broadway between 44th and 45th Street in Manhattan, and was named after RW John Jacob Astor (1763-1848), one of the first members of Holland Lodge No. 8, and Grand Treasurer of the Grand Lodge of New York from 1798-1801. He also served in two instances as Junior Grand Warden pro tem in 1798 and in 1801.
Image by Catherine M. Walter

On February 20th of that year, 1863, Putnam Lodge, No. 338 sponsored
the application of W..George K. Chase and twenty-three other Masons to form a Lodge they named Gramercy (which to the American Indians means “Many Thanks”). Of these petitioners, twenty-one were from York
Lodge, No. 197; one from Oscar Coles Lodge, No. 241; one from Tecumseh Lodge, No. 487 and one from Hiram Lodge, No. 1, of New Haven Conn. They came from diverse walks of life: broker, tailor, lawyer, baker, plumber, brush maker, grocer, hardware and ointment merchants, to name a few…
At the outset, the Lodge developed a close fraternal association with Sagamore Lodge, which presented Gramercy with a trowel.

St. Cecile Lodge No. 568 was warranted on June 28, 1865. It was the first Lodge in New York State to be granted Dispensation to meet during the day, as most of the members were entertainers who worked at night on Broadway. On display in the Exhibit was the below Certificate for Brother Al Jolson. Also on display from the Biography Section of the Library’s Book Collection was the book, Jolson: The Legend Comes to Life, by Herbert G. Goldman [Call Number in the Library: 921 J68g].

Brother Al Jolson (1888-1950) was an actor and singer of Russian heritage. He performed on stage in New York City, and traveled with circuses and vaudeville performers.
He was Raised on July 1, 1913 into St. Cecile Lodge No. 563, and thirty years later, received the above Active Honorary Membership Certificate.
Image by Ratirat Osiri

Publicity Lodge No. 1000 was warranted on May 3, 1922. Today, it is formed by the consolidation of Harlem Lodge No. 457 and Americus Lodge No. 535 which merged to become Liberty Lodge No. 457 in 1986, and by the merger of Liberty Lodge No. 457 and Publicity Lodge No. 1000 who merged in 1999 to become Publicity Lodge No. 1000. On display in the exhibit was the below certificate issued to Brother Hiram B. LeQuatte in 1962, commemorating his 50 year anniversary of becoming a Freemason. This certificate was donated in 2016 by David Wendt in Honor of Hiram B. LeQuatte.

Image by Ratirat Osiri

Britannia Lodge No. 1166 was warranted on May 6, 1964. On display in the exhibit was the below Certificate of attendance during the Lodge’s 25th Anniversary celebration. It was presented to MW Wendell K. Walker, Honorary Past Grand Master (awarded in 1979) and Past Grand Secretary from 1963-1990, serving for 27 years during the terms of 15 Grand Masters. He passed away in 1991, during MW Richard P. Thomas’ term. MW Walker was an avid supporter of the Livingston Masonic Library.

Jose Rizal Lodge No. 1122 was  warranted on May 16th, 1984. On display in the exhibit was the below plate, celebrating the Lodge’s 25th Anniversary in 2010 and issued during the term of W.. Arvin P. Repil. a Brother in good standing for the past 37 years. 

Also on display, to highlight the Mason after whom Jose Rizal Lodge was named, was the below commemorative folder of currency, issued in the Philippines with a Masonic Square and Compasses prominently displayed. The first-named Hero in the Struggle for independence was Brother Jose Rizal, a member of Logia Solidaridad No. 53.

It was a great pleasure for the Library’s Museum Division to share some of the magnificent artifacts in the Collection with the Brethren for whom the items have most meaning. Please don’t hesitate to contact the Library if your Lodge or District would like to have a similar Special Exhibit.

The Library honors the 165th Anniversary of Continental Lodge No. 287

On April 25, 2018, Continental Lodge No. 287 was welcomed by the Livingston Masonic Library in honor of their 165th Anniversary.

A special exhibit was designed and installed in the Reading Room by Ms. Catherine M. Walter, Curator, and Mr. Joseph Patzner, Librarian pro tem, with the help of Ms. Ratirat Osiri, Assistant Curator. The exhibit focused on two prominent members of the Lodge, and also displayed artifacts, books and archives related to Continental Lodge No. 287.  RW Demetrios G. Melis, Library Trustee and Secretary of the Board of Library Trustees, was on hand to welcome the Lodge and present the exhibits.

Three of the artifacts on display, as well as the related biographies, are also found in the Museum’s Online Virtual Museum, graciously hosted by the George Washington Masonic National Memorial.

One of the two prominent members was MW Edward M. L. Ehlers, who served as Grand Secretary for 36 years  under the administrations of 22 Grand Masters, from 1881-1917. In 1901, he became the Grand Lodge of New York’s second Honorary Past Grand Master. On permanent display in the Library is the RW Gutzon Borglum bust of MW Ehlers. RW Borglum was the sculptor who created Mount Rushmore.

In the temporary exhibit was shown a 1915, illuminated Certificate granting Life Membership to MW Ehlers from Continental Lodge No. 287.

An additional item highlighting MW Ehlers and his deep connection to Continental Lodge No. 287 was his Past Master Jewel, made of gold and diamond, and engraved with, “Presented to Past Master E. M. L. Ehlers, by members of Continental Lodge No. 287,  F.& A. M., March 20, 1872.

The 1904 Past Master Certificate of W Edward C. Ehlers, the son of Honorary Past Grand Master Ehlers was also on display.

The other member highlighted was RW Charles Looney, who served as Grand Steward from 1908-1909. After his death in 1937, his wife, Mrs. Ida Looney, created the Charles Looney Memorial Collection by donating a number of artifacts he had accumulated, She then actively continued to collect Masonic items, and donated  to the Library, up until her death in 1958, a large amount of medals, bookplates, engravings, letters and memorabilia in RW Looney’s name. The 1906 gold and diamond Past Master Jewel of RW Looney on display holds a lock of RW Looney’s mother’s hair.

General items related to the history of Continental Lodge No. 287 were featured, including a Jewel Clasp used by Officers of Continental Lodge No. 287, the Lodge Square damaged in the 1861 Union Square fire, and two coin medals: one from 1953 commemorating the 100th Anniversary of the Lodge, and one from 1987, commemorating the 2,500th Communication of the Lodge.

The Lodge Square on display. “The Jewels, Aprons and Staffs were destroyed by the fire except a few portions… the Compasses were lost.”

An Architect’s Rendering of a Model Lodge Room, designed in 1934 by Kromm and Kohl for Continental Lodge No. 287, was displayed above the actual Model Lodge Room.

The Grand Lodge’s Masonic Hall Meeting Chart from 1948 showed that the Lodge met in the Craftsmans Lodge Room on the 7th floor on the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays of every month.

Additional items on display included: The April 1853 Petition to form Continental Lodge No. 287, the  April 22, 1853 Dispensation granted by Grand Lodge [the Warrant granted May 10, 1853], a 1900 Ballot Box presented by Worshipful Frank S. Baker, and History Books related to Continental Lodge No. 287.

The highlight, however, was the Lodge Bible, which was presented to Continental Lodge No. 287 by Brother Joseph Freeman, May 11, 1855. This Bible was injured in the fire which destroyed the Lodge room at No. 8 Union Square, March 15, 1861. It was rebound on April 16, 1861.

Most Worshipful Jeffrey M. Williamson, Grand Master 2016-2018, was in attendance at the Lodge’s Anniversary event at the Library, accompanied by the Grand Line. In a surprise to the Lodge, MW Williamson unveiled the Bible to the Lodge, and informed them of its historic placement in his Official Portrait.

The Library congratulates Continental Lodge No. 287 for its historic milestone, and for its inclusion in the Grand Master’s portrait, and thanks the Lodge for its support.

The Library is thrilled to share the history it holds with the Lodges and with the membership of Grand Lodge. If any Lodge would like a similar special, temporary exhibit installed for a commemorative event, please don’t hesitate to contact us at





Special Exhibit at the Library for over 100 Visitors

This past week, the Chancellor Robert R Livingston Masonic Library of the Grand Lodge of New York was pleased and proud to mount a temporary exhibit in honor of three separate visitor groups.

The A.P. American and A.P European History High School classes from John Dewey High School visited, with their teacher Thomas Stoppini. On Tuesday, May 22, 40 students visited, and on Thursday, May 24, 30 students visited.

On Wednesday, May 23, the visitor group was composed of over 30 New York City Librarians from the New York City Department of Education.

All three groups were treated to a special, temporary exhibit which included three main topics on which the A.P. Students had been focused this past year:

Founding Fathers
Theodore Roosevelt
Knights Templar

The table with the Founding Fathers material from the collection held the following amazing artifacts:

  1. The George Washington Masonic Letter, Portrait and Locket of his hair, 1782
  2. The George Washington-signed muster request letter to Col. Greene, 1780
  3. The American Union Lodge No. 1 Military Lodge Minutes Book, 1776-1779
  4. The Solomon’s Lodge No. 1, Poughkeepsie, NY Minutes Book, 1771-1784, with Benedict Arnold visit, Benedict Arnold denouncement, and George Washington Visit
  5. The Benjamin Franklin gold and ivory trowel, late 1700s
  6. George Washington Relics and Steel Plate engraving: a) a piece of wood from his coffin; b) a piece of wood from the elm tree under which he took command of the army; c) a piece of wood from a magnolia he planted at Mount Vernon, and d) a steel plate engraving of his portrait.
  7. A pamphlet with George Washington as a Mason on the cover, and an original engraving of Benjamin Franklin

The Table with the Theodore Roosevelt material held:

  1. A 1903 letter and envelope (on White House stationary)  from Brother Roosevelt to MW William E. English, Grand Master of Masons in the State of Indiana
  2. A 1904 regrets letter (on White House stationary) from Brother Roosevelt to MW John Stewart, Grand Master 1895-1897, in reference to an invitation by Albion Lodge No. 26
  3. A 1932 letter (on the stationary of the Office of the Governor-General of the Philippine Islands) to MW Charles Johnson, Grand Master 1930-1932, Grand Secretary 1932-1946, about Brother Roosevelt’s Inaugural Address, a copy of which he sent to MW Johnson (also on display)
  4. An 1884-1885 Trow’s New York Directory showing Brother Roosevelt’s NYC residence
  5. Two photographs: one with Brother Roosevelt as a Master Mason, and one in which his membership certificate signed by MW Edward M.L. Ehlers, Grand Secretary 1883-1917 and Honorary Past Grand Master 1901, is being examined by MW Judge Nathan Turk, Past Grand Master 1956-1957
  6. Valentine’s Manual of Corporation, City of New York, 1870, showing a map of the then-NYC Police precincts
  7. An engraving by J. Conacher of the 28 East 20th Street NYC building in which Theodore Roosevelt was born
  8. A biography of Theodore Roosevelt
  9. A booklet titled,  Our Patriotic President

The Knights Templar table held:

  1. The Knights Templar Certificate of Andrew Robbs, from Lodge No. 753, Rooskey, Ireland 1806, signed by William Gamble as Secretary
  2. Pages from a 1753 pamphlet about the Orders of Knighthood
  3. A Grand Commander Jewel, 1898, Sir Knight Henry Brewer Quinby, Grand Commander of the Knights Templar of New Hampshire
  4. A book documenting Boston Commandery’s California Pilgrimage of 1883 to the 22nd Triennial Conclave
  5. Four rare books from the Collection related to the Knights Templar
  6. Two Grand Encampment commemorative pamphlets

Also on exhibit was the Certificate signed by Paul Revere, 1782:

As an interesting associated item, there was also the Marquis de Lafayette Apron, 1820s, and a newspaper article showing the dinner seating for the 1824 dinner which the Grand Lodge of New York gave to honor the Marquis de Lafayette.

Additionally, on display was an 1801 letter written by MW Robert R Livingston, Grand  Master 1784-1800, after whom the Library is named, as well as an original engraving of him:

The Library is thrilled to share the collections with the membership, and with the general public, in furtherance of our Mission.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us if your Lodge, District, Association, class or group (Masonic or non-Masonic) would like to have a similar temporary exhibit mounted for a special visit or event. Please give us at least one month advance notice to design the exhibit.

Photographs by:
Mr. Joseph Patzner, Librarian pro tem  – (Overhead images of the tables)
Ms. Catherine Walter, Curator – (GW letter)
Ms. Ratirat Osiri, Assistant Curator – (All other images)

A New 1790s-1850s Apron Exhibit in the Wendell Walker Lounge

Designing a new exhibit is always somewhat of an adventure, as there must be a concordance between the artifacts which are available and safe to display, the story or theme which is being told, the shape and size of the exhibit cases, the hardware needed to display the artifacts and the amount of signage needed to explain to the viewer what they are seeing and why it is important enough to be on display.

Last year, the Livingston Masonic Library was the grateful recipient of a number of display cases from the Grand Lodge of New Jersey, with the coordination of Brother Glenn Visscher at the Grand Lodge of New Jersey and the Livingston Masonic Library’s Board of Trustees, most especially, RW C. F. William Maurer. Five of the cases were installed in the Library on the 14th floor, with two others held in reserve for future exhibits.

Four of the cases were refitted to be used in the ground floor Wendell K. Walker Lounge, and a brand new Masonic Apron Exhibit was unveiled during the Grand Lodge Annual Communication on May 1st and 2nd.

Aprons were chosen out of the vast Apron Collection of the Grand Lodge of New York based on either their historical interest, their symbolic value, their sheer beauty, or their representative nature.

In Display Case 1, there is just one, plain leather apron, the symbolism of which is well-known to every Freemason. Considered to be the “single most important piece of ceremonial regalia,” one of its symbolic meanings, as given to the initiate, is one of innocence and purity.

In Display Case 2, there is a simple leather apron from 1793, with a single symbol, the square and compasses. The addition of symbols to the Masonic apron began with this simple type of adornment.  Also in this case is the stunning Howard Lodge No. 35 apron, worn between 1825-1836.


Included in this case of leather aprons is the Masonic Apron of Brother John Joseph Pershing, General of the Armies 1919 and Commander-in-Chief of the US Forces 1921-1924.

Case 3 holds the Masonic Apron of Most Worshipful Daniel D. Tompkins, Grand Master 1820-1822, NYS Governor 1807-1817 and United States Vice President 1817-1825.

Additionally, in Case 3 is an Apron significant to the Grand Lodge of New York as belonging to Most Worshipful Isaac Phillips, founder and the 1851 Grand Master of the Phillips Grand Lodge (a schism Grand Lodge in existence from 1849-1858). It is also significant in that MW Phillips was an early Jewish Grand Master, dispelling the myth that the Fraternity didn’t accept Jewish members. All the Grand Officers of the Phillips Grand Lodge were accorded legal Past Grand Officer status upon the healing Union in 1858.

In Case 4 are seen a sample of Aprons from some of the many Concordant Bodies, with a Royal Arch apron, a Knights Templar Apron, and a Scottish Rite Apron on display.

This Royal Arch Apron is filled with both Blue Lodge and Royal Arch symbols.

This Knights Templar Apron belonged to Civil War Soldier, Right Worshipful William Gurney, who fought in the 7th NY Militia, the 65th Regiment, NY Volunteers, the 127th NY Volunteer Infantry and also served as the Commander of the Second Brigade in General Abercrombie’s Division.

This Apron Exhibit will have new, fascinating, beautiful and historic aprons switched in on a regular basis, so please don’t hesitate to come to Grand Lodge to view them in person.


The Masonic Apron

Masonic Aprons are one of the most interesting, beautiful and curious items in the Fraternity’s history. Members of medieval, operative stone-masons’ guilds wore large animal hide aprons, providing them with as much protection as possible from the sharp rock shards with which they worked.

Early Masonic aprons were similar, but in the late 1600s, men began to join the guild who were not actual stonemasons, but who were “Accepted” into the Fraternity nonetheless, and it is they who may have introduced the practice of decorating their aprons.

Worshipful Harry Rylands, Past Master Lodge No. 2, and Past Grand Steward, wrote The Masonic Apron (Research Lodge Quatuor Coronati No. 2076, Transactions Volume 5, London, England, 1892). In this important, early analysis of the Masonic Apron, he states, “The bordering with ribbon and decorations were, I think, introduced by the Speculative Masons, and may perhaps have been a mark of distinction.”

White leather was mentioned as the material for the Aprons in the Book of Constitutions, which outlined various colored silks that were allowed to be used as lining, a regulation repeated in the editions from 1739 up to 1784. Linings protected the clothing from white marks from undyed leather.

Aprons began to be much smaller, as the Lodges began to be filled with more speculative rather than operative Masons. The flap, which was previously held up with a button or a thong passed around the neck, for increased protection, or which hung loosely down, was folded over intentionally and tied around the waist.

From 1760-1770, in line with the advance of printed pottery and engraved summonses, the aprons became more decorated. “As jewels, differences of rank, and other matters increased in number, so the taste for symbols and the decoration of aprons advanced, and they became more and more ornate.” (Rylands, 1892)

By 1786, Aprons were much smaller than the old aprons that went almost to the ankles. They were often ornately decorated with any number of symbols, and were diverse in size, material and decorative elements. Spangles, sequins, bullion fringe, embroidery, three-dimensional items sewn on, paint, engraved prints, engraved prints which were painted … almost anything was used in Masonic Apron decoration and design.

The Concordant Bodies of the York Rite and the Scottish Rite also began to distinguish themselves with various apron styles.

In 1814, the United Grand Lodge of England ordered a general uniformity of design and lining color.

Uniformity in the Masonic Apron shape and design didn’t take hold until after the 1840s, and, while there are distinctions in color and symbol, the wide variety of earlier days diminished and has mostly disappeared from the Masonic world.


The Grand Lodge of New York holds an incredible collection of early Masonic Aprons. Some of this collection can be seen in the Library’s Online Museum by clicking  here. (Please click “Browse” above the thumbnail panel in order to see the entire Fabric sub-collection.)

Next week, a brand new Apron exhibit will be installed on the ground floor of the Grand Lodge of New York’s Masonic Hall, and we invite you to visit and see these amazing works of art which reflect so much meaning and history.

References: Rylands, Harry, “The Masonic Apron”. Transactions of the Lodge Quatuor Coronati, Vol. 5, 1892. Photographs by Catherine Walter.

Shriners’ Founder Walter M. Fleming’s Bylaws Donated to Museum!

When I received a phone call in December from Worshipful Brother William Hubschman about a donation he wanted to make to the Grand Lodge Museum here at the Livingston Masonic Library, I was most intrigued by the mention of a mirror, as we have very few in the collection. The donation came in mid-January, and I was quite pleased with the mirror – it is a 1917 hand-held 50th Anniversary commemorative mirror for Emanuel Lodge No. 654, which was warranted in 1867. (In 1996, Emanuel Lodge No. 654 merged with Daniel Carpenter Lodge No. 588, to be known as Carpenter-Emanuel Lodge No. 588 of the Fifth Manhattan District.) Along with the mirror were some coins, some lapel pins and a Lodge By-laws.

Well, then I opened the By-Laws and was stunned!  Written into the front was the name of the original owner: Walter M. Fleming, one of the co-founders of the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine!

I checked 10,000 Famous Freemasons by William R. Denslow, and, yes, according to Denslow, Brother Fleming (b. 1838-d. 1913) was Raised in Rochester Lodge No. 660 on February 13, 1869, and he affiliated with New York Lodge No. 330 on December 3, 1872.

According to these Bylaws just donated, however, the dates of his Raising and his Affiliation are different than those Denslow reports … a mystery to be researched some other day. Denslow’s entry states that Brother Fleming was also a member of Columbian Commandery No. 1, Knights Templar, and served as its Commander from 1873-1877.

I called Worshipful Hubschman to tell him to whom the Bylaws belonged and to be certain that he did, indeed, mean to donate them to us, once he knew of their famous owner. He was surprised as well, but assured me that he was happy the booklet had found a safe home. I assured him of our gratitude for adding to the collections of the Livingston Masonic Library and Museum, helping to maintain it as one of the finest Masonic research centers in the world.

Brother Hubschman is 86 years-old, and is a 52-Year member. He’s a Past Master of Habonim Lodge No. 1042 and a member of South Bay Lodge and Spartan Lodge No. 956 as well as a part of the Scottish Rite on Long Island.

His nephew, Harold Hubschman, a member of Fulton Lodge No. 216 in Atlanda, GA, inherited numerous items from his father, Worshipful Albert Hubschman (Habonim Lodge No. 1042) and Right Worshipful Jacques Fiensod (Carpenter-Emanuel Lodge No. 588 and District Deputy Grand Master of the Fifth Manhattan District). Upon Brother Harold’s death, his wife sent Brother William Hubschman numerous Masonic items, some of which he has donated to the Grand Lodge of New York.

We are thrilled to add these items to our collection, and plan on displaying the Bylaws in a new exhibit being planned for the Annual Communication in May!


A Lodge Visit to the Library and Museum

Periodically, the Chancellor Robert R Livingston Masonic Library of the Grand Lodge of New York receives requests from a Lodge Master to visit the Library as one of their Lodge Meeting events. Either I stay late to welcome them into the Library, or one of our Library Trustees from the NYC area comes in that evening to do so.

As the Curator of the Museum’s Artifact Collection, when I know a Lodge is coming to visit, and I have enough advance notice, I try to find artifacts related to the Lodge as well as information about the Lodge which might be of interest to the Lodge members. I then arrange the material on our tables for the Lodge members’ perusal.

We received such a request from Mount Moriah Lodge No. 20, which meets in the Ionic Room here at Grand Lodge for a December visit. RW Demetrios “Jim” Melis, Library Trustee, gave a short talk in the Lodge about the Library, and then brought the Lodge members to the Library to show them our exhibits and the material I had prepared for them.

Moriah Lodge No. 20 was warranted as Mount Moriah No. 132 in 1806, and became No. 27 in 1839. In 1973, it merged with Pioneer Lodge No. 20 to become Mount Moriah Lodge No. 20. One of the early members of Mount Moriah Lodge No. 27 was Grand Tiler Greenfield Pote, who, in 1843, famously gave the first dollar to the newly-proposed fund. This fund was designed for:

1st. The erection of a HALL in the City of New-York, for the Grand Lodge and other Masonic Bodies.

2d. The founding of an ASYLUM for worthy, decayed Masons, their Widows and Orphans.

So, because of the story of RW Pote, for the visit of Mount Moriah Lodge No. 20 to the Library, I arranged on one table materials related to the History of Mount Moriah Lodge No. 20, and on the other table, materials related to the History of Greenfield Pote. These items are listed below:

Table 1: History of Mount Moriah Lodge No. 20

  • 3 Copies of printout of Mount Moriah Lodge No. 20 important dates
  • Book: GLNY Proceedings 1903 with expanded history of Mount Moriah Lodge No. 27 (M17.2 N.Y. M86h)
  • Book:  Mount Moriah Lodge No. 27 Meeting Notices 1936 (M17.2 N.Y. M86)
  • 3 Copies of printout of GLNY Proceedings 1903 history
  • Book: History of Mount Moriah Lodge No. 27, 1806-1936
  • Traveling Certificate, 1852 – Phillips Grand Lodge, for Joseph Stern
  • Book – GLNY Proceedings 2015, showing Phillips Grand Lodge  Officers
  • Sign explaining the schism of the Phillips Grand Lodge


Table 2: History of Greenfield Pote

  • Tin frame and Photograph of Greenfield Pote
  • 3 copies of printout of Greenfield Pote’s biography
  • 3 copies of printout of the story of the first dollar donated
  • Book: GLNY Proceedings, 1843 showing memorial of proposal for Hall and Asylum Fund
  • 3 copies of printout of the proposal to create Hall and Asylum Fund
  • Scroll of Donors: showing Greenfield Pote as first donor
  • Sign: showing James Herring served as Grand Secretary for legitimate GLNY in Table 2 material, and as Grand Secretary for the illegitimate Phillips Grand Lodge material on Table 1. Upon the Union, he was accorded legitimate Past Grand Officer status.

Lodge members were welcome to handle, touch and pick up everything except for the items in bold, and were welcome to take with them the printed-out copies of data.

From all accounts, the Lodge enjoyed the visit to the Library, and were interested and glad to see the special temporary exhibit I designed for them to learn more about the history of their Lodge.

If you belong to a Lodge which would like a similar visit, please don’t hesitate to contact us at We are thrilled to share your history with you!

If you belong to a non-Masonic group, and have a particular interest in some aspect of New York history, we may be able to create a similar temporary exhibit focused on your topic for the benefit of your members.

The Book, Archives, Vertical Files and Artifact Collections held by the Chancellor Robert R Livingston Masonic Library of the Grand Lodge of New York contain a wealth of information and memorabilia about New York City, New York State, United States and world history that is unparalleled in its range and breadth.

Come and discover this hidden jewel!

Happy Birthday Chancellor Livingston!

By Catherine Walter

This Sunday marks Chancellor Robert R Livingston’s 270th birthday. Originally on the Online Museum, to celebrate his birthday we re-publish below details of his life as a patriot and as a Mason.

Robert R Livingston’s great-grandfather, Robert Livingston, moved from Holland to New York around 1675. In 1686, he purchased an enormous piece of land in upstate New York, (between 120,000 and 150,000 acres), from the local Native American tribes in the area. He had three sons, Philip, Gilbert and Robert, and he granted Robert 13,000 acres of land.

Robert had one child, Robert R. Livingston, who inherited this estate upon his father’s death. This Robert R. Livingston’s oldest child was also named Robert R Livingston, the subject of this biographical sketch. He was sometimes referred to as Jr. in various documents and Lodge minutes created during his lifetime. All of the following information refers to this Robert R Livingston. (It is intentional that there is no period after his middle initial, as this was the way he signed his name.)
Robert R Livingston was educated at King’s College, New York(renamed Columbia College after the American Revolution). He then studied law, first under William Smith and then with New Jersey Governor William Livingston. He was admitted to the bar and worked for a time with John Jay. In 1773, he was appointed Recorder of the City of New York, a position he kept for only two years because of his active sympathy with the American Revolutionists.
In 1776, he served as a delegate to the Congress of 1776, and was chosen, along with four others, to draft the Declaration of Independence. Also in 1776, as a member of the New York Provincial Congress, he was appointed to the committee to write a State Constitution. (de Peyster, 1876)

In 1777, he became the first Chancellor of the State of New York, serving as such until 1801 (1777; 1778; 1779; 1780; 1781; 1782; 1783; 1784; 1785; 1786; 1787; 1788; 1789; 1790; 1791; 1792; 1793; 1794; 1795; 1796; 1797; 1798; 1799; 1800; 1801). As Chancellor, he administered the oath of office to George Washington at Washington’s inauguration as President of the United States.

The Bible used for the inauguration was the altar Bible from St. John’s Lodge No. 1, New York, NY. This Bible is normally on display and can be viewed at Federal Hall, New York City, unless it is traveling for use in a ceremony.

During Robert R Livingston’s time as Chancellor, he was also appointed as Secretary of Foreign Affairs for the United States, serving as such from August, 1781 to August, 1783. In 1801, he resigned as Chancellor in order to accept an appointment as Minister Plenipotentiary to France, where he became friends with Napoleon Bonaparte.

During his time in Paris, Robert R Livingston negotiated the Louisiana Purchase, finalizing the agreement in 1803, with James Monroe arriving in time to affix his signature to the contract. (de Peyster, 1876)

When Robert R Livingston was in France, he met Robert Fulton, and, eventually, the two of them successfully developed the steam-engine for water navigation. Prior to meeting Fulton, Livingston had tried to engineer a steam-engine for water navigation, but could not develop an engine that went faster than three miles an hour. After he and Fulton worked on the problem while living in France, upon return to New York, they built the “Clermont” in 1807, which was able to travel five miles an hour.
Robert R Livingston’s accomplishments also included: helping to develop the New York State canal system; settling boundary issues with the other New England states; publishing works on agriculture; experimenting with gypsum fertilizers and introducing Merino sheep to the area, cross-breeding them with the local sheep.In 1810, he hosted a sheep-shearing festival, celebrated to this day, and hailed as the first county fair in the country. (Christian, 1987) In 1801, he was a founder of the American Academy of Fine Arts in New York. Additionally, Past Grand Master Livingston was so skilled an orator that Benjamin Franklin called him the “Cicero of America.” (de Peyster, 1876)
There is a commemorative stained glass window honoring Past Grand Master Livingston in the George Washington Masonic National Memorial in Alexandria, Virginia.
When told by Congress that each State could choose two citizens to honor with a statue in the Capital in Washington, D.C., New York State representatives chose Robert R Livingston, along with George Clinton.
Erected in 1931 by the Masonic Lodges of the Second Columbia-Dutchess District and the State of New York, there is a Memorial plaque honoring Robert R Livingston at his ancestral home, Clermont, (Clermont State Historic Park, Germantown, NY). Initially built in 1730, the mansion on the estate was burned by the British in 1777. The rebuilt building incorporates charred remnants of the earlier building. (Clermont, 1977)Robert R Livingston has also been honored on numerous commemorative postal stamps.
In 1983, the Board of Regents, the governing body for education in New York State, granted a charter to the Chancellor Robert R Livingston Masonic Library of the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of New York.

Though given a New York State Charter in 1983, the Library has been in existence since 1885. In 1885, the Grand Master “appointed a Sub-Committee for the purpose of collecting – by gift or loan – Masonic and archaeological objects to be deposited in the Masonic Hall for the information of the Craft, as well to excite their zeal and interest as to gratify their commendable curiosity…The intention was and is to place on permanent exhibition antiquities and other objects of interest to the brethren, such as ancient medals and jewels, rare coins, minerals, old diplomas, certificates and documents; scarce books, and antique lodge furniture, valuable through age, association, history, or rarity; which are known to exist in the possession of lodges or individual brethren. Thus scattered they are of little utility, while, if united they would become of great interest and value…It is earnestly requested that your lodge, and any brother possessed of any article suited to the purpose in view, will place the same at the disposal of the Committee, by whom the safety of such objects will be carefully guarded.” (Lawrence, 1886)
There are over 60,000 titles in the Library, with many in different languages. Two-thirds of the books are Masonic in nature, and many are extremely rare, making the Library one of the finest sources for Masonic information in the world. The other third of the books is focused on related topics; biographies, histories and comparative religions.

While the Library is available to Masons as well as to the general public, in order to take any of the circulating books out of the Library, you must be a New York State Mason. There are 17 self-directed reading courses designed give an introduction to the books and that help focus use of the collection. Additional resources in the Library include subject, biography and Lodge folders.

While there is no record found that shows when and where he became a Freemason, in 1771, Robert R Livingston was named as Master of Union Lodge during the constitution of Solomon’s Lodge No. 1 in Poughkeepsie, NY.

When Robert R Livingston became Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of the State of New York, “[his]…election and installation actually closed the brief existence of the Provincial Grand Lodge and opened the history of the Grand Lodge of the State of New York…[He] was the third Grand Master under the Atholl Charter. His predecessors were British Subjects.” (Gosnell, 1983)
“When Robert R Livingston became Grand Master, there were only six lodges united under the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of New York, as all of the British military lodges had evacuated. Union Lodge No. 8 had been “healed” and admitted to Grand Lodge membership in 1783, and thus was the only lodge in New York City, except for perhaps Hiram Lodge No. 5 that could trace their authority to a warrant from the premier Grand Lodge of England. “The rest of the lodges in New York State were warranted out of the premier Grand Lodge of England, and were called “Moderns.” The contentions that divided Moderns and Antients [sic] in Great Britain never truly carried over into America. The Atholl Charter was the only valid official document authorizing Masons in New York to meet in Grand Lodge.
“Because Robert R Livingston had been Master of a lodge that originated through the premier Grand Lodge of England (the “Moderns”), it was easier for him to bring the rest of the New York State lodges (“Moderns”) into the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of New York (which had it’s authority through the “Antients”). (Lang and Singer, 1981)

In a letter that he wrote reflecting on what became known as the Louisiana Purchase, he wrote, “I had long foreseen that the possession of the east bank of the Mississippi…would be insufficient…I therefore (though without power)…endeavored to satisfy the people in power here, that…it was proper to give us all the country above the Arkansas…

“In March, I ventured upon what was here considered as a bold and hazardous measure, a direct and forceful address to him [Napoleon] personally on the subject of our claims [French spoliation claims] upon which, having received positive assurance that they should be fully and promptly paid, I began to look forward to this as a means of accomplishing my other object which I was sure he could not…in the case of war…find any other means of discharging it.” (Livingston, 1803)

Upon receiving a Past Grand Master’s jewel on December 2, 1801, Robert R Livingston said, “I receive with great sensibility this new mark of the attachment with which the Grand Lodge have, on so many occasions, honored me. I derive, however, no small consolation when parting with them, from finding my place in the Lodge occupied by a brother who has, by a long series of services, been enabled at once to evince his attachment to the Fraternity and his ability to promote their interest.
“I shall wear brethren, with pride and pleasure, the jewel with which the Fraternity have honored me, and consider it as a memorial of the pleasing connection that binds us to each other when the duties I owe the public shall have separated me from them.
“Receive my thanks, brethren, for your friendly and affectionate wishes, present to the Grand Lodge my ardent prayers for the present and future happiness of its members, and believe that I shall in every situation of life feel myself deeply interested in their prosperity and that of the respectable and useful society over which they so worthily preside.” (Grand Lodge, 1876)Happy Birthday Chancellor Livingston! Check out the Online Museum for more great facts, artifacts and photos about Brother Livingston.