The Gazette in Cedar Rapids, Iowa yesterday featured a substantial and nicely written piece about the Grand Lodge of Iowa's magnificent Library and Museum and its curator/librarian, WB Bill Krueger. It doesn't get the attention that the venerable Masonic museums and libraries in America's northeast often do, but Cedar Rapids is arguably one of the top Masonic research resources in the world. The original library's home was erected in 1884 and was the first Masonic-specific library building in America. The present 1955 facility today has more than 155,000 volumes, in addition to its fine museum collection.
The reporter asked Bill to name the top five treasures in the Museum today. His choices were:
Built in the early 1900s by Cedar Rapids Mason Philip J. Sargent, this stunning marquetry drop-leaf table features 37,000 tiny pieces of inlay from 100 kinds of wood, and scores of Masonic symbols.
•"The First Three Degrees of Masonry" painted by artist Grant Wood in 1922.
A stunning triptych symbolizing the Masonic degrees and stages of man.
•Benjamin Franklin’s 1734 printing of James Anderson's 1723 'Constitutions of the Freemasons'
•PGM Theodore Sutton Parvin's diaries
Parvin was one of the founders of the Grand Lodge of Iowa, and started the Iowa Masonic Library in 1842 with a $5 gold piece.
•Joseph Smith’s Ledger
Smith's final ledger book from the Mormon community in Nauvoo, Illinois that was being kept at the time of his death at the hands of a mob in 1844.
The entire article with photos can be seen HERE.
Please call the Grand Lodge of Iowa Library & Museum to ask about visiting hours, especially during the COVID shutdowns. I called several times in the last couple of months, but the building has been closed for much of the year. In fact, it's always a good idea to call before visiting any Masonic library and museum. They are generally staffed infrequently by volunteers, and can often have erratic hours.