Monday, June 13, 2011

Masonic Cemeteries



I got the chance to see Acacia Cemetery in Oranjestad, Aruba when I was there last November.

Given the themes of mortality found in Freemasonry, along with the 19th century growth of fraternal burial societies, it's not uncommon to find Masonic cemeteries all around the world. They can be small and simple, or quite elaborate. Unfortunately, too many of them have fallen into disrepair, and new stories abound telling similar tales of lodges that are no longer able to maintain them, or the corporations that once ran them that have disappeared, or just plain run out of money.



In my hometown, there was a Masonic Burial Ground Association of Indianapolis organized in 1873, when they purchased a lot within venerable Crown Hill Cemetery with 300 burial plots. I have been unable to find out when the association was dissolved, but it's on my list of things to find in my copious free time. Meanwhile, on the far east side of the city is Washington Park Cemetery East, which was established as a Masonic cemetery in 1922.

A notable Masonic cemetery is Acacia Park at 7800 W. Irving Park Road in Chicago.


It was established in 1922, and there are many overt symbols of the fraternity on the grounds and its buildings. Matching obelisks mark the two entrances to the grounds, and each are adorned with statues depicting a broken column. One includes a statue of "Faith," and the other the "Weeping Virgin" holding a sprig of acacia.

Squares and compasses can be found on doors, gates, and stained glass windows. The main mausoleum's chapel is constructed in the form of a lodge, with a marble chair for the Master.

Notable guests here are Alvah Curtis Roebuck (1864-1948), founder of Sears, and Mike Royko (1932-1997), Chicago Tribune columnist.

For a photographic tour of the cemetery, see Matt Hucke's Graveyards of Chicago website.


H/T to William Witkowsky

2 comments:

Nathan said...

Interesting!

Of course, as you know, Indiana now prohibits the establishment of Masonic cemeteries or sections thereof. Probably as a direct result of the issues you mentioned.

42.060-4. Masonic Section of Cemetery. Establishment in commercial cemetery of “Masonic
Garden,” use of “Masonic” in stations, Altars, including open Bible, Square and Compass, cannot
be permitted. Circularizing or soliciting for this purpose is prohibited. 1955: 32, 119; 1968: 75,
126.

The Millennial Freemason said...

I'm actually on my lodge's cemetery board. I can't say this with certainty but I believe we are the last lodge in my state to own a cemetery. It was very common that as a benefit of lodge membership, a brother would be assigned a certain number of plots for himself, spouse and descendents. This is no longer the case but many of our brothers, including Past Masters, continue to be buried there. Our cemetery is open to all burials and well maintained.

Walking amongst the headstones, I'm still amazed how many prominent men in the town of Farmington and beyond were brothers. If any brother in the Minnesota area would like a tour, I'm more than happy to show you around. You can read about it here

Nick