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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Brooklyn Masonic Temple Is Not Exactly Masonic

The Brooklyn Masonic Temple at at Clermont and Lafayette Avenues in Fort Greene, Brooklyn is a familiar concert venue to New Yorkers. Built between 1907-09, it was eventually home to 35 lodges and appendant groups, affiliated with the Grand Lodge of New York F&AM. But in spite of the name, the Brooklyn "Masonic Temple" isn't really "Masonic" anymore, at least, not within the realm of regular, recognized Freemasonry. "Counterfeit" might be a more succinct term.

Architects Austin Lord and James Monroe Hewlett designed a brick, marble and terra cotta exterior that still impresses today.

Inside is a 1,000 seat auditorium, two large lodge rooms and one smaller one, along with two banquet halls. The auditorium today is often the setting for local rock concerts.

Unfortunately, the lodges were unable to keep the building, and it was sold in 1977 to an irregular Masonic organization, a "clandestine" grand lodge known as the Empire State Grand Council, Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite Masons Inc. It is a predominantly black, non-Prince Hall group that is unrecognized by the overwhelming majority of legitimate Masonic organizations around the world. Just like its previous owners discovered, the costs of maintaining the building are steep, and it must be rented out on a regular basis to pay the bills. Reports are that the interior is suffering tremendously from lack of upkeep.

Over the years, the Brooklyn Temple was fought over by its new owners, and according to several brothers, there are multiple unrecognized Masonic organizations now operating in the building.

Indeed, Brooklyn is a hotbed of irregular and unrecognized groups calling themselves Freemasons. Brother Oscar Alleyne of Wallkill Lodge No. 627 recently gave a talk on this subject, and reported that there are at least 67 grand lodges operating in New York that are irregular or unrecognized, in addition to the regular and recognized Grand Lodge of New York F&AM and the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of New York. The vast majority of them are headquartered in one of the five boroughs of New York City. The Phylaxis Society's Commission on Bogus Masonry lists no fewer than eleven "grand lodges," plus a couple of OES groups, at work in Brooklyn alone, and it does not appear to be up to date.

Still, it regularly appears in reviews of concerts that the "Masons" still own the building. True in name only. Unfortunately, Freemasonry and Masonic can't really be trademarked or copyrighted, and anyone who wants to can stick a square and compass on the door and proclaim themselves a lodge, or if they have more grandiose ambitions, a grand lodge.

On the other hand...

William D. Moore in his 2006 book Masonic temples: freemasonry, ritual architecture, and masculine archetypes, expresses the belief that the Brooklyn Masonic Temple influenced large Masonic temple designs all over the U.S., in style, size and form. Its images and floorplans were widely reprinted in Masonic publications across the country, and building committees traveled to Brooklyn to see it in person when planning their own buildings during the height of the fraternal building boom from 1910-1929. For that and many other reasons, we should all be grateful the building has regular activity and owners who can still keep the doors open, the heat on and the lights burning. Many others have not been so fortunate.


  1. There are more than a few of these lodges with facebook pages and are attracting regular masons because of their generic use of the S&C and words like Freemasonry and Mason on their pages. Brother Oscar Alleyne traveled to my lodge Van Rensselaer No.87 in September of this year gave an eye opening lecture about clandestine Prince Hall lodges, and how a clandestine lodge can be detected. We need his lecture in book format for sure!

    Too bad our regular brothers had to sell the building. Ughgh... such a beautiful place.

  2. hi i been to this lodge plenty of times and all the brothers there are really nice and respectful i miss going there.....


  3. When the purpose is to do things that are good, honest and pure. There will always be opposition.

  4. There are only TWO regular Masonic temples in Brooklyn. Brooklyn Masonic temple 70 Pennsylvania Ave (prince hall) and Midwood temple 348 East 64th Street. (GLNY)

  5. i live on the block, they are total assholes. the building is falling apart and now there is scaffolding around the building because they can't afford to fix the roof. They do nothing for the neighborhood or the block and are extremely disrespectful to the permanent residences of Clermont Ave. Hoping they sell it to someone who will maintain the building properly.

    1. They probably won't sell it because of title disputes....The current occupants will just continue renting it out for concert revenue until it falls apart and is bought for a major commercial enterprise...Similar to how the spectacular King's Theater on Flatbush Ave was recently saved....
      This is a SPECTACULAR piece of architecture. I drove by and went inside...It looks like a dilapidated old public school on the inside...It states here that the incredible building was sold to this bogus mason group in 1977. Gradually over 30 years by 1977 this area of Brooklyn had become a complete typical crime ridden dangerous black slum area. By the early 60's White flight was almost complete with the few typical hangers on (victims) left behind... The original Lodge that owned it saw their founders die off by then and the area starting to resemble present day Detroit and most likely simply abandoned it...In the early 90's dumb out of state Whites started showing up again in this area (sometimes murdered...)...Now in 2016 this area is about a third non-black, very expensive place to live due to dumb yuppy types continously moving here and it's proximity to Manhattan...I am definitely interested in the details of the final years of this lodge leading up to it's final demise in 1977 and how much it was sold at firesale for...Where could we get details? What we see when viewing this incredible building is the symbolic of the orchestrated demise and ruin of White European culture in urban Amerika...


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