Masonic Temples Around the World

Friday, 23rd July 2010 by

Freemasonry is the world's largest and oldest fraternity. It's also sort of hard to define. It's a fraternal organisation, but it's also bound up with ideas of morals, charity, and social gatherings.1 For centuries, Masons have taken pride in constructing monuments to their brotherhood (although a common Masonic saying is "Freemasonry erects its temples in the hearts of men" or something similar). Let's take a look at how some of these lodges and temples appear in Google Street View.

The largest Masonic temple in the world is in Detroit, Michigan. The temple opened in 1926, just a few years before the Great Depression began. Now, the massive auditorium is primarily used as a concert venue called The Masonic.

Modern Freemasonry traces its roots back to the formation of the United Grand Lodge of England in 1717. The U.G.L.E. is headquartered at Freemasons Hall in Great Queen Street, just off Drury Lane, in London.

Across the street from Freemasons Hall, you can see several of the regalia shops that cater to London Masons. These shops sell Masonic books, aprons, keepsakes and trinkets as well as the formal attire required for certain meetings.

In addition to craft lodges (or "blue" lodges), which confer the three degrees of Masonry (Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft, and Master Mason), there are dozens of Appendant organisations for Masons to join. Two of the most well-known are the Scottish Rite and the Shriners. The U.S. has two governing bodies of the Scottish Rite, but the larger of the two is called the Southern Jurisdiction and its headquarters are in an impressive building in Washington, D.C., called The House of the Temple (Dan Brown fans might recognise it from The Lost Symbol).

Another fascinating (and massive) Scottish Rite Temple is in the unlikely location of Guthrie, Oklahoma. Part of the building once served as the Capitol of the state of Oklahoma.

Guthrie is a fairly small town in Oklahoma and you can see just how large the footprint of the Scottish Rite Temple is—it takes up several blocks of the town.

The Scottish Rite Auditorium in San Antonio, Texas, is one of the largest in the United States, and like Guthrie, it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Outside the U.S. and England, there are many fascinating Masonic buildings—of course, not all of them on Google Street View. In Toronto, there is a large, ornate building labeled "Masonic Temple" but it's no longer owned by Masons, in fact, it's now the headquarters of MTV Canada.

Many of the former British colonies have long histories of Masons establishing lodges in the far reaches of the world. Here's the Masonic Hall in Hong Kong:

These are just a few of the examples of the literally thousands of Masonic temples around the world. Do send in your favourites!

  1. Full disclosure: This author is a Mason! ↩︎