Wamponamon Lodge #437. Photo by Anthony Lombardo for the East Hampton Star
From the East Hampton Star website today:
In 1858, when the the Wamponamon Masonic Lodge No. 437 was established in Sag Harbor, a comet streaked across the sky, the first comet ever to be photographed.
That event is now immortalized in a recently completed mural on the walls of the historic building at 200 Main Street, which, even after the lower floor became the Sag Harbor Whaling and Historical Museum, remained home, on its upper floor, to the Masons, an organization members describe as “the oldest and most honorable fraternity known to man.”
On a hot day last July, John Capello, an artist and member of the Masonic brotherhood, clambered down from a web of scaffolding to greet Patrick McErlean, the lodge’s head, or Worshipful Master, and a visitor. For more than a month he had been perched high up, painting Masonic symbols and celestial imagery on the walls and domed ceiling over the Masonic temple’s dais, adding colorful new sections to a mural he had originally installed in 2014.
One goal of the most recent work, which took about two months all told, was “to show the dimension of the universe,” Mr. Capello said. For inspiration, on his painting table next to brushes of all sizes, sketches, and rainbow-colored pots of paint, was an open book of photographs taken by the Hubble telescope — multihued, ethereal images of galaxies, planets, and stars. He painted Jupiter and Uranus into the mural, and constellations, too, including Pegasus the winged horse in iridescent paint.
A self-taught artist and sculptor who works in a variety of mediums and teaches a painting course at Stony Brook Southampton, Mr. Capello has done outdoor murals at locations throughout the New York City boroughs, beginning in the 1970s, when buildings were often covered with graffiti. He would approach their owners with a different idea.
He has learned, he said, to make only a rough sketch before he begins. “I create as I go,” he said. “It’s only paint, so I can change as I go. I usually put in four, maybe five hours a day; half of that is spent looking.”
The inclusion of the comet grew out of a talk with Lou Grignon, Mr. McErlean’s predecessor as lodge master. “He said, let’s find out what was happening in the sky” when the lodge was founded.
“This is my legacy to Sag Harbor,” the artist said.
The building, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, was designed by a prominent 19th-century architect, Minard LeFever, and constructed in 1845 as a residence for Benjamin Huntting II, a leading Sag Harbor citizen and whaling ship owner. Its design includes detailed plaster ceilings, carved wooden doorframes, and ornate Corinthian columns outside. It was purchased, after Huntting’s death in 1867, by Mrs. Russell Sage, a well-known philanthropist who used it as a summer cottage, and was deeded to the historical museum in 1945, according to museum records, with the Masons guaranteed use of the upstairs in perpetuity...Read the whole article HERE. There are many photos of the mural in progress, as well. Reporter Joanne Pilgrim did a good job with actually researching the lodge and the Craft, (only a few errors, like the Declaration signers and the Boy Scout founders) and posted a story that deals with us in a reasoned way. Quite a pleasant surprise these days, I'm sorry to say.
The lodge will hold an open house on June 4th between 10AM and 4PM.