TheNorthernLight

/August2010

5

incontrasttoHenryPriceinMassachusettsin
1733,whoalmostimmediatelyestablishedalocal
lodgeinBoston.

Regardlessofwhichsideyoutakeinthis

ongoingdebate,BenjaminFranklin’s1734letter
toHenryPrice,requestingacharterforthe
PennsylvaniaGrandLodge,wasacceptedandthe
GrandLodgeofPennsylvaniawasduly
constitutedfromthatpoint.Today,Pennsylvania
has435lodgesandover114,000members,while
alsobeinghometo16ScottishRiteValleyswith
morethan40,000members.

TheGrandLodgeofPennsylvaniasecuredits

firstMasonicbuildingin1802.Locatedon
FilbertStreetinPhiladelphia,itwasdedicatedon
St.John’sDay,Dec.27,1802.However,
membershipgrewatsucharateoverthe
succeedingyearsthatthebuildingwasoutgrown
by1807andthehuntwasonfornewquarters.By
theendof1807,theGrandLodgepurchaseda

vacantlotonChestnut
Streetandbeganbuilding
accordingtoaplan
submittedtoitsdesign
competitionbyarchitect
WilliamStrickland
(1787-1854).

ThenewMasonicHall

wascompletedin1809.
Unfortunately,theGrand
Lodgeexperiencedashort
tenureinthisbuilding.On
March9,1819,achimney
firespreadrapidly,
consumingthebuilding.
Thescenethatnightis
depictedinanengraving
fromthemuseum’s

collection,titled“TheConflagrationofthe
MasonicHall,ChestnutStreet,Philadelphia.”
AccordingtotheFranklinGazette,thefirecould
beseenfromNewCastle,DE,32milesaway.
WashingtonLodgeNo.59,wasmeetinginthe
buildingwhenthefirestarted.Whiletheydidnot
havetimetoclosetheirmeeting,themembers
didgetoutofthebuildingandreportedlynoone
wasinjuredorkilled.

A

fterthefire,theGrandLodgefoundnew
quarters.Overthefollowing35years,they

metinthreedifferentlocations.Then,in1855,
the“NewMasonicHall”wasbuiltonthesiteof
thetemplethatburneddownin1819–Chestnut
Streetbetween7thand8thStreets.Anotherprint
inthemuseum’scollectiongivesatasteofthe
sumptuousfurnishingsusedinthenewbuilding.
Thelithograph,byMaxRosenthal(1833-1918),
depictstheGrandLodgeroom,whichwas
decoratedinGothicstyle,andshowstheMaster’s
chairalongwiththeornateceilingandwall
decorationsandthecolorfulcarpeting.The
buildingasawholewasdescribedas“themost
gorgeousMasonictempleprobablyintheworld.”
Itwasuseduntil1873whenthecurrent
PennsylvaniaMasonicbuilding,atBroadand
FilbertStreets,wasdedicated.

TheScottishRiteMasonicMuseumand

Libraryhasover200Masonicjewelsinits
collection,includingabout54PastMasterjewels.
WhilePastMasterjewelshonorthesame
achievementnomatterwhichGrandLodge
issuesthem,theyoftenfollowdifferentdesign
traditions.Pennsylvaniaoffersanexcellent
example.ItsPastMasterjewelsincorporatethe
symbolofthe47thProblemofEuclid,whichis
notusedbyotherstates.Representing
Freemasonry’sEnglishroots,thePennsylvania

PastMasterJewelforT.StewartBrown,

1866,probablyPennsylvania.

TheConflagration
oftheMasonic
Hall,ChestnutSt.,
Philadelphia,1819,
JohnHill
(1770-1850),
engraver,
Philadelphia.
PhotobyDavid
Bohl.

LibertyBellSaltShaker,ca.1876,attributed
toGillinderandSons,Philadelphia.Giftof
J.RobertMerrill.PhotobyDavidBohl.

FraternalStandard,late1800s,W.H.Horstmann

Company,Philadelphia.GiftofB.Franklin

Reber.PhotobyDavidBohl.