The Collection of Harry P. Knowles: the Great Masonic Architect

Harry Percy Knowles was the renowned Masonic architect who was recognized for his works of various Masonic buildings, including our current Grand Lodge of New York building and the Masonic Home campus buildings at Utica.  The generous donations from his grandson, John Knowles Copelin, help us learn his Masonic legacy with his architectural renderings.

 

Masonic Temple at Colon, Panama

Sojourners’ Lodge No. 874 was chartered in 1898, in the city of Colon, Panama, under the Grand Lodge of Scotland.  Consisting of mostly American Masons, the Sojourners’ Lodge later chose Knowles as the architect of their first building in 1910.  The cornerstone was laid on May 30, 1911, in the northeast corner of the Canal Zone.  The building was completed in June of 1914.  It is a three-story building with stores on the first floor, offices on the second floor, and lodge rooms on the third and mezzanine floors.

 

Render of Masonic Temple in Colon, Panama. Louis H. Dreyer, Photographer.

 

 

Grand Lodge of New York Building

The Grand Lodge of New York Building is one of the most recognizable architectural works of Knowles.  The building was erected in 1911 on 24th Street and 6th Avenue to replace the previous Grand Lodge building and later extended to 23rd Street to have office space for tenants.  This building is also known for its sophisticatedly decorated lodge rooms.

Photograph of an architectural rendering of Grand Lodge of New York building. The address was written 71 West 29th Street instead of 23rd Street. Louis H. Dreyer, photographer.

 

Toronto Masonic Temple

Being from Ontario himself, Knowles submitted his design for the planned Toronto Masonic Temple in 1914 and it was chosen by the committee.  The project was later canceled due to funding issues.

Architectural rendering of the Toronto Masonic Temple. The Rosevear Portrait Studio, photographer.

 

Masonic Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hospital

The Masonic Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hospital in Utica, New York, was built to care for soldiers and Masonic members as a hospital on the Masonic Care Community campus.  The Grand Master MW William S. Farmer laid the cornerstone in 1919 and the hospital building was dedicated in 1922.  The in-depth article on the hospital building can be found here.

Architectural rendering of the Soldiers’ & Sailors’ Memorial Hospital at the Masonic Care Community. Louis H. Dreyer, photographer

 

Daniel D. Tompkins Memorial Chapel

The Daniel D. Tompkins Memorial Fund was started in 1904 by Grand Master MW Frank H. Robinson to raise money to build a chapel in honor of Daniel D. Tompkins on the campus of the Masonic Care Community.  The chapel was dedicated in 1911, and it is known for its impressive set of Tiffany’s stained glass windows.

Architectural Rendering of the Chapel. Louis H. Dreyer, photographer.

 

Schenectady Masonic Temple

Very little is known about Knowles’ Schenectady Masonic Temple rendering.  The design of the Schenectady Masonic Temple, which had its cornerstone laid in 1919 and was erected on the corner between Erie Boulevard and State Street in Schenectady, suggests that his design was not chosen.

Architectural Rendering of the Masonic Temple in Schenectady. Photographer Louis H. Dreyer.

 

Prince Hall Masonic Temple

According to The American Contractor and Real Estate Record and Builders’ Guide in May of 1921, Knowles was reported to be working on the Prince Hall Masonic Temple on the corner of 144th street and 7th Avenue in New York City.  The Prince Hall Grand Lodge of New York, however, had not laid the cornerstone of the building on this corner until 1926, three years after Knowles’ death.  The enlisted architect was changed to Vertner W. Tandy.  Presumably, Knowles’ design of the temple was never used.

Architectural rendering of the Prince Hall Masonic Temple. Louis H. Dreyer, Photographer.

 

Mecca Temple

The beautifully decorated Moorish revival building was once the home to the Shriners known as Mecca Temple.  In 1921, the Shriners organized the Mecca Temple Holding Company and then purchased the plots between 55th and 56th Street.  They chose Harry Percy Knowles, who was a member of Mecca Temple, to design the building.  The cornerstone was laid on October 13th, 1923 by MW Arthur S. Tompkins, the Grand Master of New York.  Unfortunately, Knowles died in 1923 before the completion of the building. This Mecca Temple rendering is presumably the early design where the second building on the left was included in the draft.

After the Great Depression, the building became the City’s property in 1940 and it was changed into a performing arts center, an idea of Mayor Fiorello La Guardia.  The building is now known as the New York City Center.

Render of Mecca Temple. Photographer unknown.

 

Knowles was a member of Pyramid Lodge No. 490, Union Chapter R.A.M., and York Commandery No. 55 Knights Templar, and served a term as the Past Grand Sword Bearer of the Grand Lodge of New York.  In addition, he once worked for Napoleon Le Brun, the well-known architect who designed the previous New York Masonic Temple in 1870.

 

 

 

Reference:

Onondaga and Oswego Masonic District. “Harry P. Knowles.” 2015.

Moore, William D. Masonic Temples: Freemasonry, Ritual Architecture, and Masculine Archetypes. The University of Tennessee Press, 2014.

Skazin, Paul R. A. E. A Tale of Two Temples. https://web.archive.org/web/20110927085432/http://webhome.idirect.com/~skazin/new_page_2.htm.

“The American Contractor.” 28 May 1921.

“Real Estate Record and Builders’ Guide.” 28 May 1921.

Prince Hall Masonic Temple – New York City. New York City Chapter of The American Guild of Organists, http://www.nycago.org/Organs/NYC/html/PrinceHallTemple.html.

“The Masonic Standard.” 6 Jan. 1923.

Beam, Walter Irvin, and John Layard Caldwell. Masons and Masonry on the Panama Canal, 1910 – 1914. Masonic Club of Empire, 1914.

Masonic Periodicals Now Available on Odilo!

The Robert R Livingston Masonic Library has now made a selection of periodicals from various Grand Lodge jurisdictions available to patrons on Odilo for free! In the past, we were only able to provide access to the physical issues; now, thanks to the publishers and editors, we can offer the opportunity to explore the work and research of your fellow Brother Masons from your computer, e-reader, or mobile device.

Below is a list of the periodicals that will be available on Odilo in a digital format.

Asiya Shrine (California)

Connecticut Freemason

The Maine Mason

Rhode Island Freemason

Illinois Freemason

Empire State Mason

Nebraska Freemason

Pennsylvania Freemason

New South Wales Freemason

New Zealand Freemason

Click To View Odilo Catalog

Please Note: Access to Odilo is currently only provided to New York State Masons

If you would like to receive access or check your patron status please e-mail, Ebookhelp@nymasoniclibrary.org.

Highlight Artifact: 18th Century Masonic Marble Tablet

 

 

A curious Masonic artifact in our collection was listed in the old collection catalog index made by the Grand Lodge’s Committee of Antiquities in 1905.  It was described as a marble tablet, 20 inches long and 12 inches wide, etched and colored with various Masonic symbols.  It also has an ornate monogram “G. B.”, the name Robert Chambers, and Hebrew letters at the bottom.  Many symbols on the tablet belong to the Royal Arch degree, such as: a small triple tau at the bottom right, the double triangle or the Seal of Solomon, and the Greek word EYPHKAMEN (usually part of the phrase Eyphkamen Cultor Dei Civis Mundi on the Seal of Solomon).

How it became part of the Grand Lodge’s collection was also mentioned, as follows:

This Tablet was in the attic of the house adjoining the Old Sugar House, on Liberty Street, New York City.  It came into the possession of Bro. Isaac H. Gibbs, about the year 1840, and was presented by him to Grand Lodge, about the year 1868.

The Old Sugar House, also known as the Livingston Sugar House, was a five-story tall greystone building erected in 1689, located next to the Middle Dutch Church on Liberty Street.  It was built by the Livingston family and used as a sugar refinery before the Revolutionary War. After the British captured New York City in 1776, it was seized and converted into a prison for detaining American prisoners.

Lithograph print of the Old Sugar House and Middle Dutch Church, courtesy of New York Public Library Digital Collection.

 

The building was demolished in 1840, the same year Bro. Isaac H. Gibbs had obtained the tablet.  It is possible that it might have been recovered from the attic before the demolition.  The 28 Liberty Street Building (formerly One Chase Manhattan Plaza) now occupies the site where the Old Sugar House once stood.

Regarding the name signed at the bottom of the tablet, it is possible that the marble tablet might be engraved, stained, and signed by Robert Chambers, a recognized operative mason and marble stainer from Gloucestershire, England, who was active from 1750 to 1780.  He was well-known among researchers for leaving Hebrew letters in his crafts.  In this case, the letter he left was “Giblim”, the word equivalent to master masons mentioned in the building of the Temple of Solomon.

However, the origin story of who was the original owner of this tablet, and how it ended up in the attic of the Livingston Sugar House and later in possession of Bro. Isaac H. Gibbs, is still unclear.

 

 

Side note: Brother Isaac H. Gibbs was the first Senior Deacon of Manitou Lodge No. 106 in 1845.

 

 

 

References:

 

Wilson, James Grant, editor. “Return of Peace and Completion of Erie Canal.” The Memorial History of the City of New-York: From Its First Settlement to the Year 1892, vol. 3, New York History Company, New York City, NY, 1893, p. 301.

McDowall, Katharine Ada Esdaile. English Monumental Sculpture Since the Renaissance. Hyperion Press, 1927, pp. 98-100.

Committee on Antiquities of the Grand Lodge of New York. Collection Made by Committee on Antiquities of the Grand Lodge Free and Accepted Masons, of the State of New York. The Grand Lodge Free and Accepted Masons of the State of New York, 1905.

Bowlder, Roger. “Rococo in Lee: Fludyer Tomb by Robert Chambers.” The Georgian Group Journal, vol. 3, 1993, pp. 91–93.

Gunnis, Rupert. “Signed Monument In Kentish Church.” Archaeologia Cantiana, vol. 62, 1949, p. 64.

Letters From The White House: Our Presidential Letter Collection

From our archive, we compiled the correspondence letters sent from the White House, written by various Presidents of the United States, many of which were Masons.

 

 

 

President Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909)

Albion Lodge (originally no. 31) of New York was warranted in 1804 and MW John Stewart, Past Master of the lodge and Past Grand Master, invited President Theodore Roosevelt to their centennial celebration banquet in 1904.  Regrettably, President Roosevelt wrote back that he appreciated the invitation, but he could not attend the banquet.  President Roosevelt was raised in Matinecock Lodge No. 806, Oyster Bay, New York.

Albion Lodge merged with Naval Lodge No. 69 in 1973 and later merged with St. John’s Lodge No. 1 in 1995.

 

 

President Warren G. Harding (1921-1923)

President Warren G. Harding was raised one year before his presidency in Marion Lodge No. 70, Ohio. He wrote back to Yonkers Commandery No. 47 regarding the invitation to the Annual Reception which he could not attend, but nonetheless sent his fraternal greetings.  He was also invited by the Grand Commandery of New York to the 108th Annual Conclave at Syracuse in 1921, which he declined as well.

 

 

President Calvin Coolidge (1923-1929)

President Calvin Coolidge was never initiated into Freemasonry but he retained a great friendship with the Masons during his presidency.  He was present at the cornerstone laying ceremony of the George Washington Memorial.  MW Charles H. Johnson, the Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of New York, was also the Secretary of State of the Board of Charities of New York.  In this correspondence, President Coolidge complimented their charity projects and declined MW Johnson’s invitation to the exhibition presumably to display the handicraft of the patients under the care of the State Board of Charities.

 

 

President Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933-1945)

The Masonic Stamp Club of New York was established in 1934 by a group of Masons with a philatelic interest, sponsored by The Grand Lodge of New York Library and Museum.  The club presented President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who was also an avid stamp collector, their Honorary Membership card.  He wrote back a thank you letter to MW Charles H. Johnson, the Grand Secretary, and said he looked forward to meeting him again.

Two weeks before Franklin D. Roosevelt wrote this letter, at an evening meeting of Architect Lodge on November 7, 1934, his two sons, James Roosevelt and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Jr. were raised as Master Masons.

 

 

President Harry S. Truman (1945-1953)

President Harry S. Truman had already been a prominent member of the Freemasons prior to his presidency.  During the famous renovation of the White House under his supervision from 1948 to 1952, he and his assistant, General Vaungh, recognized the mason’s mark on the stones among the rubble.  He later presented the marked stones to each of the Grand Lodges across the United States.  They were accompanied by this letter.

President Truman was raised in Belton Lodge No. 450 of Missouri and he was the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Missouri in 1940, five years before he became President of the United States.

 

 

The Isaac R. Stewart Memorial Wing Cornerstone Memorial Box Unveiled

The Grand Lodge Library and Museum has received the Memorial Box time capsule that was once sealed within the cornerstone of the Isaac R. Stewart Memorial Wing at the Masonic Home.

The new hospital wing was erected to increase the hospital capacities for those in need, and it was made possible by Brother Isaac R. Stewart’s contribution. On St. John’s Day, June 22nd, 1963, the Memorial Box was presented by the Grand Treasurer RW Walter Dobler before it was sealed within the cornerstone laid by the Grand Master MW Harry Ostrov. The wing was finished and dedicated on November 23rd, 1963.

MW Harry Ostrov and Mrs. Isaac R. Stewart at laying the cornerstone ceremony. From Empire State Mason Magazine, July-August 1963 issue. Photographer unknow.

 

When the Isaac R. Stewart Memorial Wing was renovated, the time capsule was uncovered and unsealed at the dedication of the American Orchid Lodge Room at Masonic Care New Rochelle by Grand Master MW William M. Sardone on September 27th, 2021.

The box contained various documents such as: the Grand Lodge of New York’s Proceedings for 1962, a program of the cornerstone laying ceremony, a letter from the Grand Master, Empire State Mason magazines, an annual report, an issue of the Utica Daily Press newspaper and photographs. The by-laws and annual report of Oswegatchie Lodge No. 687 were also included in the box, as Brother Isaac R. Stewart, whom the building wing was named after was a member of this lodge.

 

The documents inside the Memorial Box

 

The letter from the Grand Master MW Harry Ostrov address to the future brethren can be read as follows:

 

 

 

Reference & Photo:

Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of New York. 1964.

“Isaac R. Stewart Hospital Wing Cornerstone Laid June 2, St. John’s Day.” Empire State Mason, 1963, p. 24.

Ceremony of Laying the Cornerstone of the Isaac R. Stewart Memorial Wing at the Masonic Home, 1963.

 

 

Collection Highlights: The Obelisk artifacts

The Egyptian Obelisk, also known as Cleopatra’s Needle was built by King Thutmes III. Originally erected in Heliopolis, it was moved to Alexandria in 23BC before being transported to New York City and erected in Central Park. In October 9th, 1880, 141 years ago, nine thousand masons marched the parade to Park and 82nd street, escorted by Edward M.L. Ehlers, the Grand Marshal. Then, the cornerstone was laid by Jesse B. Anthony, the Grand Master, and the Grand Line officers

 

The Obelisk artifacts in our collection:

 

A Baton used in cornerstone-laying ceremonies

 

The obelisk baton was carried by Edward M.L. Ehlers, the Grand Marshal of that day. The baton is sophisticatedly ornate and is decorated with amethyst and ivory handle. Carrying the baton, the Grand Marshal escorted the Grand Lodge parade to the ceremony site.

 

Gavel used in cornerstone-laying ceremonies

A wooden gavel used in the ceremony, as mentioned in the proceedings “The Grand Master then advanced to the stone, spread cement upon it, gave it three blows with the gavel”. The gavel was made from the wood from the ship Lawrence of the Battle of Erie, plated with gold-color metal. It had been used in several cornerstone laying ceremonies.

 

Egyptian Obelisk Commemorative medal

A commemorative medal issued by Grand Lodge of New York.

 

Reprinted programme of the cornerstone-laying ceremony

Reprinted program issued by Continental Lodge in 1934. The booklet provides all the details of the ceremonies, the officers and the story behind the obelisk.

 

Paul Orban’s painting of the laying cornerstone ceremony

 

Painting by Paul Orban, depicting the cornerstone-laying ceremony for the Egyptian Obelisk for Masonic Outlook, January 1930 issue cover.

 

The Masons and the Antarctica Expedition

In 1928, Admiral Richard E. Byrd launched the much-anticipated expedition to Antarctica. He and his crew settled the base camp as they landed on the continent, and from there, they flew the first flight ever over the South Pole. Boarding the flight, there were Admiral Richard E. Byrd, the expedition leader and navigator, Bernt Balchen, the chief pilot, Harold I. June, co-pilot and radio operator, and Ashley McKinley, the photographer. For the brethren, it is a noteworthy accomplishment that three of the four crew aboard this historic flight over the South Pole were masons.

 

Richard E. Byrd was raised in Federal Lodge no. 1, Washington D.C. in 1921, and he dimitted to Kane Lodge no. 454, New York in 1928. He had flown Kane Lodge’s flag from the masthead of the ship during the expedition. Kane Lodge members presented him Kane Lodge Gold Medal upon his return from his first Antarctica Expedition, with the greeting from President Hoover via telegram. The Grand Lodge of New York awarded him the Distinguished Achievement Medal later in 1947.

 

Program of Presentation of Distinguished Achievement Medal to Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd

 

Bernt Balchen was raised in Norsemen Lodge no. 878 in 1927. A few weeks prior to the expedition, the Norsemen Lodge presented the US flag to Bernt Balchen at the Testimonial Dinner at Hotel St. George on August 25, 1928. He carried the flag with him as he flew the plane over the South Pole.

Program of Testimonial Dinner given to Balchen before his departure for the Antarctic expedition, the US flag presented to him is printed on the cover

 

Portrait of Balchen attached inside the program with the poem dedicated to him by RW Charles H. Johnson.

 

Upon his return to America in 1930, the Norsemen Lodge welcomed him with Homecoming Dinner on June 23rd, 1930, where he presented the flag to Charles H. Johnson, the Grand Master. The flag is beautifully displayed in frame and still in care of Grand Lodge of New York Library and Museum. He was later appointed as the Grand Representative of Grand Lodge of Iceland in 1954 and awarded the Charles H. Johnson Medal in the same year.

 

The US flag is presented in frame

 

 

Program of Homecoming Dinner to celebrate his return from the expedition.

 

 

Harold I. June was raised in Kane Lodge no. 454 in 1931, very little is known about his Masonic activity. It is reported that he was present along with Richard E. Byrd at the unique communication of Antarctica Lodge no. 777 under the Jurisdiction of Grand Lodge of New Zealand at the Antarctica camp base “Little America” where they settled back in their first expedition.

 

References:

“Heroes Welcomed From Antarctica.” Masonic Outlook, vol. 6, 1930, p. 370.

Kane Lodge No. 454. Master’s Note, Oct 15, 1959.

New York Masonic Temple Postcard Collection

We are delighted to announce that our New York Masonic Temples postcard collection is now digitized and available for view in our online museum. This impressive online postcard collection wouldn’t be possible without the generosity of RW Howard J. Lasker, member of Wadsworth Lodge no. 417. His incredible collection of Masonic postcards consisting of 4,250 items was donated to our museum in 2008, and they have contributed exceptionally to our valuable ephemera collection.

Being part of fraternal organizations was highly popular among men in the late nineteenth century to the early twentieth century, and resulted in numerous Masonic Temples being erected and dedicated to accommodate the members.  Around the same time, the popularity of postcard was all-time high. The architecture was one of the popular subjects published on millions of postcard cover and Masonic architectures across the country were no exception. However, as the membership declined in later years, many of Masonic buildings went through change and renovation, change of ownership or were demolished. The images of Masonic buildings published on postcards by various publishers have, unintentionally, preserved the visual history of Masonic architecture in its prime.

 

Variants of Albany Masonic Temple Postcards. Each has slightly different details from the others.

 

The majority of our New York Masonic Temple postcard collection consists of:

Lithographic postcards, known for colorful and eye-pleasing visuals and commonly traced from the real photograph or negative.

Postcards of Brooklyn Masonic Temple with different coloring and details from different publishers.
Postcard of Buffalo Masonic Temple, dedicated in 1888 and demolished in 1971.

 

Postcards of Utica Masonic Temple, very likely sourced from the same photograph.

 

The real photo postcards whereas the negative was developed directly onto the postcard paper.

Photographic postcard of Newport Masonic Temple, dedicated in 1903.

 

And a reproduction of the photograph printed on the postcard.

Two postcards of Sacket Harbor Masonic Temple, they are the same photograph but the left one is the real photo postcard while the right one was printed on the postcard.

 

The New York Masonic Temple postcards are the first batch of our massive postcard collection that are digitized, as they are the excellent visual resources and references of the New York Masonic Temples history and their diverse architectures. We are hopeful that we will be able to make more of our fascinating Masonic postcards available to the public soon.

 

References:

“Postcard History.” Smithsonian Institution Archives, 19 Sept. 2013, siarchives.si.edu/history/featured-topics/postcard/postcard-history.

Bassett, Fred. “Wish You Were Here!: The Story of the Golden Age of Picture Postcards in the United States.” Postcard Collection – New York State Library, New York State Library, 24 May 2021, www.nysl.nysed.gov/msscfa/qc16510ess.htm.

Nigro, Carmen. “Using Postcards for Local History Research.” The New York Public Library, The New York Public Library, 3 Apr. 2018, www.nypl.org/blog/2015/12/04/postcards-local-history-research.

Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of New York, 2009, p. 307.

Recent Acquisitions to Our E-Book Collection (July 2020)

We are continually adding new titles to our physical and digital collection and below are a few of the highlights available through our e-library on Odilo. Click the links below each book’s synopsis to preview the book in Odilo.

Note: For Masons in New York State, If you are interested in receiving borrowing privileges or check your library registration status please contact our Librarian at, Jpatzner@nymasoniclibrary.org  or Call (212)-337-6620.  

Schism by Ric Berman (E-Book)

This book examines the creation of the Antients Grand Lodge and traces the influence of Ireland and the London Irish, especially that of Laurence Dermott, the Antients’ Grand Secretary, in the development of freemasonry in the second half of the 18th century. It demonstrates the relative accessibility of the Antients and contrasts this with the exclusivity of the ‘Moderns’–the original Grand Lodge of England. The Antients instigated what became a six decades-long rivalry with the Moderns and pioneered fundamental changes to the social composition of freemasonry, extending formal sociability to the lower middling and working classes and creating one of the first modern friendly societies. “Schism” does not stand solely as an academic work but introduces the subject to a wider Masonic and non-Masonic audience and supplements dated historical works. The book contributes to the history of London and the London Irish in the long 18th century and examines the social and trade networks of the urban lower middling and the working-class, subjects that remain substantially unexplored. It also offers a prism through which Britain’s calamitous relationship with Ireland can be examined.

E-book

The Book of Law by Aleister Crowley (E-Book)

The Book of Law is the foundation for readers looking to explore occult texts and understand  Crowley’s belief system of Thelema.

E-book

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Craft How Freemasons Made the Modern World (E-Book)

John Dickie’s The Craft is an enthralling exploration of the world’s most famous and misunderstood secret brotherhood, a movement that not only helped to forge modern society, but has substantial contemporary influence, with 400,000 members in Britain, over a million in the USA, and around six million across the world. Yet the Masons were as feared as they were influential. In the eyes of the Catholic Church, Freemasonry has always been a den of devil-worshippers. For Hitler, Mussolini, and Franco, the Lodges spread the diseases of pacifism, socialism, and Jewish influence so had to be crushed. 

E-Book

 

 

 John Jacob Astor and the First Great American Fortune by Alexander Emmerich (E-Book)

This biography explores M.W. John Jacob Astor’s (Holland Lodge No.8)  rise from poor German immigrant in 1784 to the first modern millionaire Many consider him to be the fourth wealthiest American of all times. Some argued that he must have been greedy and cold. While there were calls for Astor to return his money to the United State many others praised him for his genius and vision.  Astor is the founder of a number of New York’s fine hotels the Astor House and the Waldorf-Astoria, as well as a developer of the American West and a fur trader. Many American cities and sites are named after him.

E-Book

 

 

 

The Drillmaster of Valley Forge By  Paul Lockhart (E-Audiobook)

In the first book on Steuben since 1937, Paul Lockhart, an expert on European military history, finally explains the significance of Steuben’s military experience in Europe. Steeped in the traditions of the Prussian army of Frederick the Great-the most ruthlessly effective in Europe-he taught the soldiers of the Continental Army how to fight like Europeans. His guiding hand shaped the army that triumphed over the British at Monmouth, Stony Point, and Yorktown. And his influence did not end with the Revolution. Steuben was instrumental in creating West Point and in writing the “Blue Book”-the first official regulations of the American army. His principles have guided the American armed forces to this day.

Steuben’s life is also a classic immigrant story. A failure in midlife, he uprooted himself from his native Europe to seek one last chance at glory and fame in the New World. In America, he managed to reinvent himself-making his background quite a bit more glamorous than it really was-but redeeming himself by his exceptional service and becoming, in a sense, the man he claimed to be.

E-Audiobook

 

Houdini  by Adam Begley (E-Audiobook)

 

Nobody knows how Houdini performed some of his dazzling, death-defying tricks, and nobody knows, finally, why he felt compelled to punish and imprison himself over and over again. Tracking the restless Houdini’s wide-ranging exploits, acclaimed biographer Adam Begley tells the story of a mystifying man’s astonishing career.

Born Erik Weisz in Budapest in 1874, Houdini grew up an impoverished Jewish immigrant in the Midwest and became world-famous thanks to talent, industry, and ferocious determination. He concealed as a matter of temperament and professional ethics the secrets of his sensational success.

E-Audiobook

Transferring Physical Display to Online Display: Jewelry Collection

Decades ago, the Grand Lodge Library and Museum had very different exhibit displays from today. Thousands of artifacts were displayed in several cases and cabinets within the Grand Lodge Library and Museum on the entire south end of the 17th Floor. As the collection grew bigger along with its popularity, the Board of General Activities determined to display as many artifacts as possible, to make the collection easily accessible to the public.

 

North side of the 17th Floor Library. Published in “The Masonic Treasures of New York” booklet by Wendell K. Walker. Photographer unknown.

 

South side of the 17th floor Library. Published in “The Masonic Treasures of New York” booklet by Wendell K. Walker. Photographer unknown.

 

In 1996, the library and museum relocated to 14th floor, the artifacts were moved and the exhibits were completely rearranged. These display trays were part of the original museum exhibits through the years. The jewelry trays were removed from the original display drawer, but they were yet to be rehoused and stored properly.

 

 

The jewelry trays from the early 1900s.

 

The medals being rehoused after they were removed.

 

The artifacts were tightly pinned to the felt board with nails. Over time, the storage material could damage the artifacts, possibly from rust, insects, or acidity. To preserve them, I spent a week carefully removing them from the trays and matching them to the old catalog number assigned by the library staff at the time, an inconsistent cataloging system. Then, I assigned them the new catalog number, photographed them and properly stored them.

 

 

 

A Knights Templar badge before being removed.

 

The Knight Templar badge was previous pinned to the tray. It was removed and given the new ID number (J6inv-2806), previously B475 as shown in the old index card. The badge is now available in online museum.

The index card contains the information and the previous location of the badge.
The Knights Templar badge ID J6inv-2806, one of the artifacts removed from the tray.

 

 

Although we can physically display very few the artifacts compared to the past, the technology now allows us to display our collection online. We are working hard to steadily process our collection to be accessible to the public again. These jewelries and many in our jewelries collection are now available on display in our online museum.

 

Photo credit:

Unknown photographer, “The Masonic Treasure of New York” by Wendell K. Walker, The Masonic Service Association, 1956

Ratirat Osiri