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Wednesday, November 13, 2019

UPDATE: Who Would Want An Old Masonic Lodge?

UPDATE 11/13/2019: 
I first posted this story a year ago, and just checked it today out of curiosity. This former lodge in Alexandria, Indiana did not sell, and is still on the market currently marked down to $64,000. Just in case you have a hankering to own one of your own. 

Who Would Want An Old Masonic Lodge?  

Got a deep-rooted desire to live in a former Masonic lodge? Twenty years ago, I might have jumped at this.

The former home of Alexandria Lodge No. 235 in Alexandria, Indiana is up for sale for the bargain basement price of just $69,000 (CLICK HERE). The lodge itself was absorbed by nearby Frankton Lodge 607 in 2015, but their former Temple was unique. 

The 11,000 square foot building started life as a private home, and its most recent owners essentially restored the front portion to that original use. 

It has been modernized with five bedrooms and a serviceable kitchen, but its truly magnificent woodwork from the original house is throughout the living areas. Looks like the bathrooms could use a major overhaul, and I see lots of ceiling fans and no outdoor compressor, which make me wonder about air conditioning.

But then walk to the back of the house and you will find the whole lodge room intact and virtually untouched and unaltered, added in what appears to have been the 1920s or so.

If the Hodapps didn't want to downsize our current living arrangements, I'd have snapped it up before telling the rest of you about it. In fact, I'd have snapped it up before telling Alice about it. Then we would have had have plenty of space in which she could refuse to speak to me over it for the next 20 years.

It's located at 414 North Harrison Street in the little town of Alexandria. 

Of course, this isn't the only private residence in a former Masonic temple around here. This one is a manageable size, but a California couple and their three kids decided to take on a much more gargantuan temple to make into a home. 

Huntington, Indiana Masonic Temple now a private home

Theresa and Atom Cannizzaro were originally just looking for a Midwest farmhouse surrounded by a couple hundred acres of land. Then the San Diego couple fell in love with the beautiful former Huntington, Indiana Masonic temple that was originally the home of Amity Lodge 483. They took possession of the building in October 2016, and they've been rehabbing it ever since. 

According to a newspaper article from last year, the Cannizzaros bought most of the original furniture along with the building. 

Amity Lodge moved to a smaller building on the edge of town.

The lodge left behind an entire library of books, paperwork including materials from the building’s 1927 dedication, and other bits and pieces of Masonic history. 

The old lodge room.

The dining hall features a small theater stage at the opposite end. The Cannizzaro kids think of it as the world biggest playroom.

1927 newspaper announcing the Temple's dedication.
Freemasons were front page news then.
The family foresees eventually opening a business in the basement, possibly a brewery. They're in no hurry to finish, and it's truly a labor of love. You can follow their story and their projects at www.freemasontomansion.com.

I just find it fascinating that time after time, private individuals manage to buy, renovate and save the very buildings that entire lodges filled with members claim are too expensive or difficult to maintain. Others seem perfectly happy to keep forking hay at our "white elephants." Why do so many Masons seem so willing to cast them off?


  1. Chris, When one closer to Bloomington or southern IN is available - we would totally do it! Looks amazing.

  2. That the lodge left behind its library illustrates how we are losing our archival and historical record, along one should add the pipe organs that sustained a now largely vanished music tradition. Often material that was cited by scholars 100 years ago as being in Masonic libraries has now vanished. For example, one grand lodge library had absolutely crucial records about the lodges in Mexico in the early 1800s, which because of the part Masonry played in that country's independence was of immense value to anyone interested in the beginnings of the Mexican state. Somehow the holdings were sent away into storage in a barn at the retirement home in a rural area and have not been seen or heard about for many years. A look at ebay anytime will show how much of the Masonic past has been liquidated.

    1. Interestingly I was reading through an 1850 copy of Masonic Review magazine last week and chanced upon an entry about Indiana. It seems that all of the Grand Lodge minutes and records had vanished from its founding in 1818 through 1827, and had been gone for more than two decades at that point. Then when Vevay Lodge was doing a major cleaning of its building in 1850, they shoveled out a "pile of rubbish" up in the kitchen loft and found the Grand Lodge's original books tucked behind them. (Of course, that had been during the Anti-Masonic period, so I suppose someone could have been forgiven for hiding them in the first place...)

  3. I understand closing down a lodge, but I wonder how you get to the point of walking away from all the records. But I guess libraries and historical societies can only hold so much stuff.

    1. Brother Ryan, there are lots of repositories -- local historical societies, usually several nearby colleges, of course Masonic bodies -- and the material is welcome because it offers an unplumbed cache for researchers. Some years ago when a grand lodge left its building I went to the site and the crew foreman of the new owners took me to a cellar room full of records, including all the Masonic trials going back many years with some awful proceedings in some cases.I paid one of my students to stay for several days and buy suitcases to take the materials. On another occasion in another grand lodge the secretary referred me to the basement and said to take whatever I wanted. On still another occasion the grand secretary of an Eastern Star grand chapter told me to take from an old safe the records stretching back to Rob Morris. Scottish Rite bodies are not exempt from this problem -- often their libraries are no longer in active use and material seems to have walked. We have largely lost our place in academia. When i was a Harvard student, Roscoe Pound, the author of the classic five volumes on Masonic law and Dean of the Law School was still alive, and my housemaster, Gordon Fair was master of the Harvard lodge. All that influence and prestige is gone. We are with a few exceptions like admirably Brent Morris and Art Hoyos, studied by scholars who are not members -- Margaret Jacob,Andrew Prescott, Guillermo De Los Reyes, David Stevenson, William Moore, etc etc. While at Stanford I found one other faculty who was a member of the Craft. I invited the California Grand Lodge to have its conference/workshop one summer and the Stanford event office sent someone to be sure we were respectable. I cannot tell you in a brief space how much our heritage has been trashed and how little we are respected. It is an illusion to think otherwise, an illusion.

    2. Good comment and important advice, Brother Rich. I was attending a Masonic function in Canada a few weeks ago and one of the senior members (who is a 33rd degree Mason and Grand Master of one of the several Martinist lineages) who is well loved by me and others, said, he is "scaling back".

      He then proceeded to (smartly) give a box of Masonic books and records to the youngest member among us (who is a professional academic and Millennial) for safe keeping.

      That Senior Brother is "setting his house in order" and showing a good example for other brethren to follow. Many of us are Bibliophiles (lovers of books). I am, my dad, Brother Chris, and many others.

      Some of us belong to several wonderful Masonic Research
      Societies. But who is going to take care of our Masonic books, magazines, periodicals, and associated literature when we are gone? Our non-Masonic family members and friends? Maybe so, maybe not. Ebay? Bonanza? Hope not.

      Hopefully, we will start "scaling back" right now and look for younger BROTHERS who will appreciate some of the Masonic tomes and records we have accumulated over the many years. And as mentioned by Brother Rich, let us also seek out historical societies, colleges, and Masonic bodies (which also include libraries). Much loss can be prevented if we really start "scaling back" and begin to "set our house in order".


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