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Sunday, August 13, 2023

HELP WANTED: Lodge Furniture and Vintage German Language U.S. Ritual

by Christopher Hodapp

I've been contacted by brethren from two Indiana lodges in need of some specialized items. If you're able to help with either of these requests, contact me directly ay hodapp@aol.com and I'll connect you with the appropriate brothers:

Fraternal Lodge Room Furniture Needed

If anyone knows of a Masonic lodge that is closing or consolidating, an Indianapolis lodge is moving to a new location later this year and is in need of a (hopefully matching) set of lodge room furniture. According to one of their Past Masters who dropped by our Museum, they are wanting to acquire an altar, the Master's and Wardens' pedestals, and all officers' chairs.

They'd also consider Secretary and Treasurer's desks if they match the rest of the pieces, and the J & B columns, if you have them. They do NOT need sideline seats.

He didn't give me a time frame, but they haven't broken ground on the new building yet, so it's not an immediate need. But they expect to be moved in before December. Obviously, the closer to Indiana, the simpler it will be to arrange transportation. I suspect they'd love to find something that can be reached within a day's drive from Indianapolis – but I'll let others sort that out.

German Language U.S. Ritual Material

Like many states in the midwest, early Indiana was settled by a large contingent of German, Swiss and Dutch immigrants, and we had a small handful of Masonic lodges here that performed their degree ceremonies and monthly work in the German language. (I think we had four or five such lodges at one time.) Lessing Lodge 464 in Evansville was the last chartered Indiana lodge that had official permission from the Grand Lodge to do their work in German — they ceased the practice in the 1960s, as I recall.

Lessing Lodge is now wanting to exemplify the degrees in German as a demonstration project — they believe they have enough German-speaking members and interested participants in the area to pull this off. But they haven't been able to find any sort of existing, German-language printed material of American Preston-Webb ritual. 

Any sort of material like this that may have existed at their lodge 60 years ago has disappeared long ago. As far as I've been able to find, we don't have anything in our Library/Museum. And it's entirely probable that there WAS no such printed material in the days when the German language lodges were active here — mouth-to-ear ritual instruction was the proper way of the Masonic world, regardless of language, up until the 21st century when we all got lazy and isolated. 

Obviously, Pennsylvania had a large German-speaking population, and I believe they still have some lodges today that do their degrees that way. But Pennsylvania's Blue Lodge degrees are so COMPLETELY different from the rest of the country that any German version of their work isn't really going to be appropriate in any other state (although, for demonstration purposes, maybe that's okay).

Another possibility might be material from a lodge in the American-Canadian Grand Lodge of Germany, although I don't know how closely their ritual tracks U.S. Webb Work.

It's certainly possible to scan Indiana ritual, feed it through translation software, and spend days trying to laboriously clean up the inevitable mistakes made by machine translations ("Welcome to the very Great Large Box of Indiana!"). But if anyone has already existing material, that would be extremely helpful. 

Again, contact me directly at hodapp@aol.com and I'll put you in touch with the appropriate brother.


  1. https://www.auroralodge30.org/. I would contact these brothers in Wisconsin.

  2. I speak German so have been on the lookout for German-ritual in the US. Haven't come across anything, though I've only been a member for a few years.

    The 9th Manhattan District of the Grand Lodge of New York has historical German lodges and while I don't think any do German ritual anymore I'm sure one must have some old rituals around somewhere. Also the brothers link to the lodge in Wisconsin looks like a great lead!


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