Special: The Masonic Temple in Philadelphia
Movers & Makers takes viewers throughout the Masonic Temple of Philadelphia and behind the scenes for a peek at this architectural jewel.
The Masonic Temple is a National Historic Landmark and one of Philadelphia’s architectural treasures. The building located at 1 North Broad Street serves as the headquarters of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania and has the appearance of a structure from a by gone world. Enormous and ornate, it attracts visitors from around the world. Yet many in the Philadelphia area have ever been inside.
Masonry, also known as Freemasonry, is believed to be the oldest fraternal organization in the world, tracing its origins back to ancient stonemasons. Membership has included people from all walks of life like George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, Richard Pryor, Jesse Jackson, Nat King Cole and Shaquille O’Neal.
Construction of the temple took place between 1868-1873 and was designed by one of the finest Philadelphia architects of that era, James H. Windrim, who’s other works include The Academy of Natural Sciences, Smith Memorial Playground & Playhouse, and the main building of Thomas Jefferson University Hospital. The interior of the Temple is the work of George Herzog who’s other projects include The Union League of Philadelphia, Philadelphia City Hall, and Girard College.
Groundbreaking for the building pre-dated that of Philadelphia City Hall, which didn’t begin construction until 1871. At the time, most businesses and governing of the city were all located around Independence Hall. Both City Hall and The Temple were characteristic of something from Medieval Times and became important in the history and growth of Philadelphia.
Movers & Makers takes viewers throughout the Temple and behind the scenes for a peek at this architectural jewel. We’ll take you on a tour of the seven elaborately decorated lodge rooms, visit their extensive archives and museum, and learn about the buildings history from University of Pennsylvania Architectural Historian, Aaron Wunsch. Masonic members discuss what the organization means to them and why “The Secrets of Freemasonry” are really not so secret.
WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.