|New lodge room at the Grand Lodge of California|
(UPDATE: The room was designed by architect and Brother David Hackett. The Grand Lodge also added a dining area with bar, study and lounge with a functioning fireplace. in their remodel. Here are two more angles of the lodge room itself that brethren posted on my Facebook page since I first put up this story.)
Don't get me wrong - while I hate the cheap paneling nailed up in thousands of lodges like so many church recreation halls, insurance offices, garages, and basements throughout the fruited plain, I'm AM a big fan of the late 50s and early 60s contemporary architecture.
There's a gulf of difference between cheap junk nailed up to cover up a problem versus thoughtful design. For instance, the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania's Masonic Village in Elizabethtown has one of the very coolest 1960s A-frame lodge rooms I've ever been in.
|Lodge room at the Masonic Village in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania|
|Be honest - isn't it time to redecorate?|
If you are interested in reimagining your lodge room with a more contemporary approach, take a look at some modern French and Belgian lodge rooms. Many of their older rooms were wrecked during WWII under Nazi occupation throughout the country, so they had to build brand new ones or redecorate destroyed older ones. Plus, they are often in densely packed, tiny urban locations. They have MANY contemporary designs throughout those two nations. And their lodge rooms are designed for far fewer members than most of our older temples were.
For inspiration, I highly recommend two large format photo books packed full of their lodge room images:
Temples Maçonniques de France et de Belgique by Serge Moati and François Nussbaumer
A La Découverte des Temples Maçonniques de France by Ludovic Marcos and Ronan Loaëc
While expensive (the larger Marcos/Loaëc one has more examples), both are worth having. Both books contain new and older rooms with a huge variety of decor, plus many older rooms with updated contemporary designs.
Here are a couple of random examples.
Not every design appeals to every taste. One man's idea of impressive is another man's idea of a hotel lobby. But in earlier times, our brethren were not shy about personalizing their lodge buildings and meeting rooms with artwork, custom furniture, unique detailing, and innovative designs. That festive, decorative spirit generally did not flourish in the mid- and late-20th century throughout the US.
(Maybe it's because we pitched the booze out of so many jurisdictions...)
Notice how so very much in all of these examples is accomplished with lighting. Even plain white walls can become dramatic or soothing or otherwise evocative just with new, modern light sources and alternatives.
Think about the first time you actually walked into your current lodge room. Did it feel "special"? Did it feel like you were in a very different sort of place than anywhere else?
Didn't you WANT it to be?
Our lodge rooms are supposed to be a sanctuary from the outside world. They are supposed to make you feel like you are in a place that cannot be invaded by the problems outside the Tyler's door. They are supposed to make you feel like this is a unique place where important, comforting, reflective, and sometimes transformative things take place. All of the above examples accomplish that in a way that baby blue paint or basement paneling lit with flickering fluorescent tubes while a ceiling fan ticks overhead cannot.
Then, of course, there's another way to accomplish this besides paint, lights and furniture. The Scottish Rite Valley of Houston a few years ago built what amounts to a holodeck - a room surrounded on three sides by projection screens so that quite literally any backdrop or artwork can be displayed. Sixteen hi-def laser projectors are combined with computer generated wraparound imagery and a huge surround sound system. Virtual Reality Solomon's Temple anyone?
Just different ways of looking at it. Next time you walk in, try looking at your own lodge room with different eyes. And then make the most of it.