"To preserve the reputation of the Fraternity unsullied must be your constant care."

BE A FREEMASON

Friday, February 23, 2024

Intruder Fatally Shot After Breaking Into a St. Louis Masonic Hall


by Christopher Hodapp

An intruder was shot and killed in the pre-dawn hours of Wednesday morning after breaking into a St. Louis-area Masonic lodge building. Police pronounced the suspect dead at the scene. The lodge's resident called police as soon as the suspect was shot, and is cooperating with investigators. As of Friday evening, the dead man, believed to be in his mid-40s, still has not been publicly identified.

According to local NBC affiliate KSDK-5the suspect broke into the hall of Tuscan Lodge No. 360  at 5015 Westminster Place – in the city's Central West End – shortly before 4 a.m., setting off the building's alarm system. The lodge is unusual in that it has a private apartment inside on the third floor, originally built for the hall's caretaker. Awakened by the alarm, the apartment's resident armed himself and began conducting a search of the building. He confronted the intruder on the second floor and subsequently shot him.

According to the news account, the apartment's resident is a Mason and a member of the lodge. 

Over the last two years, Masonic halls all over the world have seen increases in break-ins, vandalism, robberies, arson fires and other attacks, and anti-Masonic zealots have attacked brethren in increasing numbers. A Texas Mason was shot and killed last year by an anti-Mason who posted a video of himself shooting the Brother in the lodge parking lot. So, it's not a bit surprising that the lodge's resident would arm himself before searching the building.

According to its website, about 160 Masons belong to Tuscan Lodge. Past members include four Missouri governors, two St. Louis mayors, and three U.S. senators. Former President Harry S. Truman was a frequent visitor.

The Homicide Division of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police are conducting the ongoing investigation. 
Police Sergeant Charles Wall was quoted in the press as saying, "No matter what the facts in this investigation will be presented to the Circuit Attorney, whether or not they ultimately decide to issue any charges, that's in their purview." The Channel 5 news report interviewed a local law professor on camera, talking about Missouri's "Castle Doctrine" laws:
"The Castle Doctrine protects homeowners from intruders if someone breaks into (their) home and (they) have a reasonable fear that (they) are going to get hurt, (they) can use lethal force. Whether the burglar is armed or not it doesn't matter. If someone's in (their) house and it's dark, (they) are going to be scared."

He said Missouri has one of the most expansive Castle Doctrines in the country.

"In some states, you have to have a fear of being seriously injured or killed -- not in Missouri -- just fear of any injury and that seems to be the case here," Walker said. 
Police have not said whether the burglar was armed or not. But any time a person shoots and kills an intruder inside their home, there's always a chance that an overzealous prosecutor will attempt to turn the victim of the break-in into the bad guy for defending his 'castle' and his own life. 

Consequently, ALL Freemasons are strongly discouraged by the Grand Master of Missouri from discussing or commenting about the case on social media. The Brother in question doesn't need a bunch of keyboard warriors mouthing off about the incident online while police are still investigating. 

However, anyone with real firsthand information about the case is urged to call the Homicide Division directly at 314-444-5371. Anyone with a tip who wants to remain anonymous and is interested in a reward can contact CrimeStoppers at 866-371-TIPS (8477).

Saturday, February 17, 2024

2024 Conference of Grand Master Masons of North America Opens in Seattle




by Christopher Hodapp

The Conference of Grand Master Masons of North America (more affectionately known as COGMNA) officially kicks off its annual meeting in Seattle, Washington today. It's an opportunity for regular, recognized grand masters in our end of the Masonic world to meet each other and learn from each others' successes, failures, programs, catastrophes, and more.

The Conference is being held at the Seattle Westin Hotel and will continue through Wednesday.

Membership in the Conference currently consists of the 52 state or "mainstream" grand lodges of  the United States of America, including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico; the 10 Provinces of Canada; the State of York, Mexico; and the American-Canadian Grand Lodge of Germany, representing some 2 million Freemasons in North America. It's the largest such confederation of regular Masons in the world.

If you're new to the fraternity, you may not have heard of this gathering, but it's not really designed for the edification of rank and file Masons. Grand masters, deputy grands and grand secretaries all have responsibilities and situational issues that can really only be understood and intelligently discussed with other grands and past grands. In addition, COGMNA is also where programs from other jurisdictions get talked about, and often spread throughout the Masonic world. And I'd be less than candid if I didn't mention that it's also where fads occasionally get started in Masonry. One-day classes, CHIPS programs, bikes-for-books projects, the adoption of grand lodge computer services like Grandview and Amity, the founding of the Masonic Service Association, even the beginnings of Prince Hall recognition and the national support to build and maintain the George Washington National Masonic Memorial – they all came out of presentations made at COGMNAs of the past. 

One of the highlights of the Conference each year is the report of the Commission for Information on Recognition. The Commission is charged with investigating questions of regularity between grand lodges and issuing their own findings in a summary. Individual grand lodges often receive requests for recognition from different grand lodges all over the world. More often than not, it's difficult for every single grand lodge to have the resources or ability to investigate the history, practices and regularity of faraway jurisdictions, especially if they don't provide sufficient background documentation in English to make a judgement. It's also quite common for there to have been a schism in a foreign country that results in rival grand lodges, both claiming proper regular origin. The Commission has no enforcement powers, it doesn't settle disputes, and it doesn't tell your grand lodge who they can or can't recognize as regular. They merely investigate and make a determination as to the regularity of a grand lodge in question (or the lack of regularity, as the case may be). But most grand lodges in the Conference respect their findings.

You'll find the Commission's previous annual reports since 2004 online HERE.

Masonic Grand Secretaries have their own unique sets of problems, concerns, solutions and success stories, so they hold their own conference-within-a-conference at COGMNA – in case you're wondering why your state's grand lodge office seems so empty next week. Everybody's in Seattle.

(And in case you were thinking of asking, grand masters of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Affiliated (PHA) grand lodges have their own Conference of Grand Masters that's been held each year since 1909.)

Just to trumpet our Indiana team's presence, our longtime grand secretary, MW Richard Elman, PGM (2004-05) has been the president of the Conference of Grand Secretaries for many, many years. Our current grand master, MW Gary Brinley will also be speaking at one of the sessions.  And MW Roger VanGorden PGM (2002-003) is heavily involved with the Masonic Renewal Committee and will be giving their presentation on Sunday afternoon. (Last year, Roger was also named as the Scottish Rite NMJ's "Active" Deputy representing Indiana on the Supreme Council.) 

And just to round out the list of influential Indiana grand masters in leadership positions within their various Conferences, MW Eugene Anderson, Jr., Past Grand Master of the MW Prince Hall Grand Lodge F&AM of Indiana, is the president this year of the Conference of Prince Hall Grand Masters, which will be held May 15-19 in Charlotte, North Carolina.


Friday, February 16, 2024

Past Sovereign Grand Commander Glattly Responds To His Expulsion From NMJ


by Christopher Hodapp

This afternoon, David Glattly, Past Sovereign Grand Commander of the Scottish Rite NMJ, posted a message on his Facebook page, reacting to the news yesterday that he'd been expelled from the Scottish Rite NMJ.

It reads:
Hi All!

Last night I was informed of my expulsion as a member of the Scottish Rite NMJ. I was informed second hand from a few friends that received the email. I did not receive anything directly from Supreme Council. Imagine, 60 thousand members received my expulsion notice before me. That’s rather embarrassing. Perhaps that’s how the leadership wanted it.

I understand that this was precipitated by repercussion for my letter that was sent through the Freemasonry for Dummies blog. That letter was my truthful version of what happened behind the scenes with the two year inquisition that plagued Monica and I.

A few weeks ago, I submitted my resignation as an Active Member of the Supreme Council, as I no longer had any interest in participating with the Supreme Council. So this expulsion has really no affect on my Supreme Council status. It does however, affect my membership in my beloved home valley, where I have many friends and fond memories. This part is hurtful.

I became an Active Member of the Supreme Council 21 years ago and had the pleasure of serving as the chairman or a member of many committees and projects throughout that time. I truly enjoyed my nine years of service as the Deputy for New Jersey. As the Sovereign Grand Commander for four years, we built a very successful team that brought the NMJ to new heights. I’m very proud of this.

Scottish Rite is an excellent organization with strong values and significant core values. I encourage members to be active in your local valleys and enjoy the activities, as that is where the fun is. You may find as you rise in the ranks, the fun goes away and you may become disillusioned.

As for me, I’m fine. I hope that my path crosses paths with many friends over the coming years, both within and without the Masonic Fraternity.

Thank you all for your messages of concern and support! Cheers!

Thursday, February 15, 2024

Past Sovereign Grand Commander David Glattly 33° Expelled from the Scottish Rite NMJ




by Christopher L. Hodapp

NOTE 2/16/24,11:00AM: An earlier version of this story mistakenly said David Glattly was a Past Grand Master of New Jersey. He is a former Grand Marshall. My apologies for the error.

The Supreme Council of the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite NMJ has announced on its website this evening that it has voted to expel Past Sovereign Grand Commander David A. Glattly, 33° from its rolls. (Click the image below to enlarge.) 


No reasons for his expulsion were stated in the post or the letter, but it comes about a month after Glattly’s long and detailed letter was published on this site at his request, explaining his side of events that led to his abrupt resignation from the SGC position in 2022.

For those who are confused by Masonic bureaucracy, appendant bodies, or jurisprudence details, it should be understood that David is a member and former Grand Marshall from the Grand Lodge of New Jersey, and he remains a member of the fraternity – he's only been expelled by the Scottish Rite NMJ.

See the original post HERE: AASR NMJ Past Commander David Glattly Speaks Out

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Masonic Week 2024: John Bizzack Named 112th Blue Friar


by Christopher Hodapp

WB John W. Bizzack, Past Master of Kentucky's historic Lexington Lodge No. 1 and one of the driving forces behind the Rubicon Masonic Society, was named as the 112th member of the Society of Blue Friars at Masonic Week in Arlington, Virginia last Friday.

The Blue Friars were founded in 1932 for the express purpose of recognizing outstanding Masonic authors throughout the world. It is arguably the smallest of Masonic organizations, and possibly the oddest, since it has no ritual and few rules. Traditionally, the Society convenes a Consistory each year during Masonic Week in the Washington, D.C. vicinity to induct a new Friar, and its gatherings are open to all Master Masons. Each year's Consistory is a highlight of Masonic Week, and a new friar may be announced at the discretion of the Grand Abbott.

Friar Bizzack is the author of numerous books, including 
Island Freemasonry, an examination of the influential role that Masonic lodges played in civilizing the frontier during America's early westward expansion, and how modern observant-styled lodges can play much the same part today by holding members to higher standards and educating new generations in civility, self-improvement, self-governance and tolerance. A thread that winds throughout all of John's works is that in fewness there is strength. A smaller fraternity will ultimately be a better one, and the huge membership numbers of the past ultimately damaged Masonry's core mission in North America. 

Some of Friar Bizzack's other works include Taking Issue, Sins of Our Masonic Fathers, and Bending Granite

Normally, the new friar is expected to present an original research paper at the Consistory. Unfortunately, John was unable to attend due to upcoming surgery, but his paper on the subject of measuring the success of Freemasonry was read by Friar Adam Kendall.

Grand Abbott Arturo DeHoyos has named Philalethes Magazine editor Shawn Eyer as the new Deputy Grand Abbott for the Blue Friars, since former Deputy Abbott Mark Tabbert moved away from the Washington D.C. area last year and took up residence in Iowa. Mark has returned to his midwestern roots, and living a more leisurely life out here in the states that begin with 'I', where the greatest dilemmas we face are over what to wear to the weekly Corn God sacrifices...

NOTE: This story originally credited Shawn Eyer as reading Friar Bizzack's paper. In fact, it was Friar Adam Kendall who did the honors. Apologies for the error.

Monday, February 12, 2024

2024 Intl. Conference on Freemasonry: March 30th at UC/Berkeley


by Christopher Hodapp

The 2024 International Conference on Freemasonry will be held March 30th on the campus of the University of California at Berkeley. This will be the 12th annual academic conference sponsored by the Grand Lodge F&AM of California, and the theme this year will be "Rites In America."


“Rites in America” examines the almost countless forms and iterations of Masonry that have sprung up on this side of the Pacific, often in the particular context of immigrant communities or other, larger social movements.

Says event organizer Susan Sommers, a professor of history at St. Vincent College, “Freemasonry is one of the oldest and most successful fraternal, initiatory societies in the Western world. Despite its reputation for secrecy, it is well known and well documented.” As different Masonic and quasi-Masonic groups formed in the Americas, they often built on Masonry’s ritual framework while adding their own features. “Why reinvent wheels when you can simply change the hubcaps?” she says. “Over the centuries, especially since around 1750, Freemasons have added, edited, and invented orders, rites, and rituals with something close to wild abandon, all the while claiming that the landmarks are immutable, and have been since Adam.”

Speakers will include:

• Jonathan Awtrey - Visiting Assistant Professor, Fairfield University
“Moses Michael Hays and Freemasonry in British North America”

• Jesse David Chariton - Ph.D Candidate, Department of History, Iowa State University
“German Americans and Masonic Baptism in the Antebellum United States”

• Robert A. Gross - Professor of Early American History Emeritus, University of Connecticut
“Canceled and Back! How a Lodge Overcame Anti-Masonry and Regained a Place in Public Life

Alexander Towey - Lecturer, History Department, California State University, San Marcos
“Ebb & Flow: Freemasonry’s Rise, Decline, and Renaissance in American Society”

• Dr. María Eugenia Vázquez SemadeniHistorian, author, and expert on Mexican Freemasonry, Mexican political history, and Hispanic-American parliamentarianism; co-author, with Margaret Jacob, of Freemasonry and Civil Society: Europe and the Americas.
“Mexicanizing Freemasonry: The National Mexican Rite ”

• S. Brent Morris - Former managing editor of the Scottish Rite Journal, the world’s largest circulation Masonic magazine, and founding editor of Heredom, the transactions of the Scottish Rite Research Society.
“Robert Benjamin Folger and the oldest English-language version of the Chevalier Bienfaisant de la Cite Sainte—aka the Rectified Scottish Rite.”

The conference is open to the public. Admission is $30, optional lunch is $20. To register, visit the website HERE.

Monday, February 05, 2024

Have you ever wanted to be a lodge Organist?


by Christopher Hodapp

Does your lodge have a pipe organ sitting in the corner or up on the balcony that's collecting dust because no one knows how to play it? We've got six original pipe organs in all of the ceremonial rooms at Indiana Freemasons Hall/Indianapolis Masonic Temple, installed in 1909 when the Temple was originally built. They all work – we have a Brother who visits every couple of years from Florida who loves maintaining and restoring these complex instruments. But in my 25 years of membership, I think I've heard one played a grand total of three times. 

Likewise, in my Mother lodge, Broad Ripple 643, we still had an official organist for the first three months I was a Mason, but he was quite elderly and sadly passed away less than a year after I joined. Our Eastern Star Chapter had an organist, but they left our building in the early 2000s, and so it fell completely silent. 

Well, if you ever had the unfulfilled desire to learn to play the organ in your lodge or church, but didn't know where to start, here's a suggestion. Over on Redditt's Freemasonry board today, Redditer 'Frosty the Sasquatch' from Alberta posted a link to a Youtube video by Jonathan Scott who has created an instructional program called "The Sometimes Organist," designed to encourage anyone with a background in playing the piano, or even a self-taught novice, to get started playing these amazing instruments.

The course teaches you to play 18 simplified arrangements of some of the most common, classic organ pieces used in churches during worship services, weddings, and other occasions:

0:00:00 INTRODUCTION
0:06:00 George Frideric Handel - Thine be the Glory
0:09:34 JS Bach - Adagio BWV 1020
0:15:00 Frederic Chopin - Prelude in E Minor
0:19:32 Antonin Dvorak - Largo Theme (from New World Symphony)
0:25:12 Henry Purcell - Trumpet Tune in D Major
0:28:11 César Franck - Poco Lento
0:31:26 Richard Wagner - Bridal Chorus
0:34:40 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - Adagio Theme (Clarinet Concerto)
0:37:08 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - Romanza Theme (Eine Kleine Nachtmusik)
0:39:47 Antonio Vivaldi - Largo (Winter - The Four Seasons)
0:43:04 George Frideric Handel - Eternal Source of Light Divine
0:49:40 Arcangelo Corelli - Adagio
0:52:19 Frederic Chopin - Prelude in C Minor
0:55:06 Henry Purcell - Trumpet Tune in C Major
0:58:04 Gabriel Fauré - Après un rêve
1:03:09 Antonio Vivaldi/Bach - Larghetto BWV 972
1:06:20 Felix Mendelssohn - Wedding March
1:09:40 George Frideric Handel - March from Scipio

Give the video above a click, or you can see on YouTube at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fP9dEo_d2V4

Sunday, February 04, 2024

Ohio's Goose & Gridiron Lodge 1717 Meeting April 27th


by Christopher Hodapp

Ohio's unique Goose and Gridiron Lodge 1717 will host their next meeting on Saturday, April 27, 2024 at the breathtaking Dayton Masonic Center. Lodge will open at noon and the brethren will retire afterwards downstairs to hold their excellent Festive Board. 



What makes "The Goose" unique, you ask? Unless someone pipes up and corrects my oftimes-fallacious memory, I believe they are the only regular Masonic lodge currently at work in the United States that is permitted by the Grand Lodge of Ohio to use England's Emulation Ritual instead of the typical American Preston-Webb work. 
The lodge will be installing its officers that day using the Emulation ceremony, as well. If you've never had the opportunity to visit an English lodge, or a Canadian one that uses Emulation, Ohio may be a quicker trip for you.

Because of the very special nature of the lodge, they try to travel around the state of Ohio throughout the year so members and guests don't always have to make a 5-hour round-trip drive to attend every time. 

In addition, they try to provide some extras before the meeting day for early arrivals. On Thursday, they will have a long field trip to Detroit, Michigan to visit the Detroit Masonic Center (largest Masonic building in the world); on Friday, there will be a tour of the National US Air Force Museum at Wright Patterson AFB just outside of Dayton. And there will be an informal "meet and greet" dinner for members, guests, spouses and partners on Friday night.

WM Daniel Mossop and a certain "Anonymous" Dummy visitor

I got the opportunity to visit Goose and Gridiron last October. When I spoke at the lodge, the Brethren quite generously made me an Honorary Member, and I was deeply honored. If you've never traveled and seen a different – but perfectly regular – ritual besides your own grand lodge's accepted work, make your way to Dayton that weekend! 

If you intend to attend the meeting and Festive Board, CLICK HERE to register. Registration deadline is April 17th. 

Saturday, February 03, 2024

Grand Master of Peru and CMI President Suspended For Five Years



by Christopher Hodapp

Eulogio Mario Carreras Vásquez, Grand Master of the Gran Logia AA:. LL:. & MM:. del Peru (Grand Lodge of Ancient Free & Accepted Masons of Peru), has just been suspended from the fraternity by his own grand lodge for a five year sentence after conviction of charges brought against him. The nature of those charges has not, as yet, been revealed outside of their Justice Committee.

The booting of an occasional grand master here and there is not an entirely shocking revelation, but it adds a bit of timeliness to the other big story this week: Until his suspension, the 73-year-old Vásquez was also the President of the Confederación Masónica Interamericana, or CMI (the Inter-American Masonic Confederation), a cooperative association of regular Masonic grand lodges primarily in Central and South America. 

The Grand Lodge of Peru is on the list of thirteen grand lodges which just lost amity with the Grand Lodge of Florida regarding a dispute over the legitimacy of the Grand Orient of Paraguay and its membership in CMI. (See HERE and HERE.)

Eulogio Mario Carreras Vásquez, now-former Grand Master
of the Grand Lodge of Peru (Photo: GL of Peru website)


A declaration was issued on January 30th by his successor, MW Luis Antonio Tipacti Peña, the former Deputy Grand Master, without any details as to the nature of his violation of Masonic law. It only says, the "ruling by the Special Court was in accordance with the provisions of Article 53 of the Code of Justice and Masonic Procedure," and that the judgement was over a "complaint presented by the RW Jose luis Echevarria Fano against MW Eulogio Mario Carreras Vásquez, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Peru." (Click the documents below to enlarge.)

No word as yet as to who will succeed him as President of CMI.



Friday, February 02, 2024

Grand Orient of Italy Wins Court Battle Against Italian Senate Over Mussolini's Confiscation of Their HQ


Photo: Wikipedia Commons

by Christopher Hodapp

The Grande Oriente d'Italia (Grand Orient of Italy) has prevailed in an Italian Supreme Court ruling against the government that restores ownership of their former headquarters. The historic Palazzo Giustiniani was illegally seized in 1925 by dictator Benito Mussolini's Fascist government ,and was never returned to the Masons after the end of World War II. Since that time, the magnificent 16th century palazzo with its beautiful interior frescos has housed the offices of the Senate of the Republic, and is the residence of the President of the Senate.

The landmark decision was handed down on January 26th, and recognizes the fact that the fascist state confiscated the Masons' historic property without any due process, recompense or restitution whatsoever. The verdict comes just one year short of the 100-year anniversary of the building's seizure.

From the close of World War I until the Allied victories against the Axis dictatorships that ended World War II, Freemasonry in Hitler's Germany, Mussolini's Italy, and Franco's Spain was suppressed and declared to be a so-called "secret society." Countless European Masons were persecuted, arrested, and even executed for no other crime than being a Freemason. The Palazzo Giustiniani was seized from the Grand Orient Masons by the Mussolini regime for use by the Italian Senate, and Freemasonry in Italy was banned outright by 1926. After war broke out across Europe, Masonic halls all over Axis-occupied territories were confiscated, along with regalia, furniture, artwork, and especially grand lodge membership files. Masonic buildings were frequently turned into anti-Masonic propaganda displays and museums, luridly staged with the creepiest of props (skeletons were a big hit with the public) to perpetuate the unfounded allegations that the fraternity practiced Satanic worship, blasphemies, plotted revolutions, and other creepy, nefarious intrigues.
NOTE: To clarify: the Grand Orient of Italy is the largest obedience in that country, and it is the body that the overwhelming majority of U.S. grand lodges recognize. The Grand Lodge of Italy is the second largest group, a mixed body that admits both men and women, and is not deemed regular by the overwhelming majority of the Masonic world. But in a rarity, the United Grand Lodge of England—from whom many U.S. grand lodges seek clarity and guidance—recognizes the much smaller and newer Regular Grand Lodge of Italy. The U.S. did not uniformly follow UGLE's action, and continues not to do so.
After the war ended, and Freemasonry returned, the Grand Orient was permitted to move its headquarters back into the palazzo, but it continued to principally be occupied by the Senate offices. By 1981, the Masons again moved out – voluntarily this time – into a smaller building.

From my albeit imperfect understanding of the whole situation, it certainly sounds like the Grand Orient Masons are now the Senate's new absentee landlords.

From a letter circulated this week by the Grande Oriente d'Italia's Grand Master Stefano Bisi:






"Fascist paramilitary squads violently occupied the building on 5 November 1925, as the Court itself recalled. And immediately afterwards the fascist state acquired the building, through a settlement agreement, against which appeals were already presented in various judicial offices at the time, asserting its right of pre-emption on an asset of artistic value, without however first declaring the nullity of the contract stipulated by the GOI in 1911 for the purchase of the building itself.
"This was a condition, the Court said, prejudicial for the state to be able to exercise its right of pre- emption and acquire the property. Consequently, the regime illegally took possession of the property in violation of the 1909 law on artistic assets.
On these legal bases, the United Sections of the Supreme Court of Cassation sent the case back to the Lazio Regional Administrative Court, remitting to it the assessment regarding the legitimacy of the acquisition procedure of Palazzo Giustiniani.
The Grand Orient expressed satisfaction with the court's decision and confirmed that the judicial initiative is aimed exclusively at restoring the truth of the facts to history in the full conviction that it represents the foundation of the essence of the democratic state to which the Grand Orient of Italy is proud to belong.
A victory for the Grand Master Stefano Bisi, his council and the staff of lawyers of the GOI. A very important step forward in the controversy which adds to other historic goals scored in these last years by the Italian Masonic institution.
Located close to Rome's Pantheon, the beginnings of this Roman palace were originally built as a religious residence in the mid-1500s on the Via della Dogana Vecchia. But in 1590, it was acquired by a Genoese prince named Giuseppe Giustiniani. Over time, Giustiniani's descendants bought up surrounding buildings, eventually connecting them together until it comprised the entire city block. 

Great big palazzos can look mighty empty unless they get filled up with statuary, paintings, murals and other tchotchkes, which is just what the Giustiniani's set about doing. The artwork collection was reputed to be comprised of more than 1,600 pieces, including paintings by some of the greatest artists of the Renaissance period, and even 1st century AD statuary excavated from the remains of Emperor Nero's infamous Baths

Many additions and modifications were done to the palace over the centuries. Most of the ancient statuary and the most valuable art pieces were sold off over the 1700 and 1800s, and by 1826, the last of the Giustiniani family died out. The building was then acquired by the Grazoli family, and for a while it was rented out as the diplomatic residence of the Tzarist Russian Ambassador to Italy.

The massive palazzo was finally leased to the Freemasons of the Grand Orient of Italy in 1898 for 11,000 lire a year. Three years after that, the Grand Orient purchased the historic building outright for use as its headquarters, and converted several of the largest rooms into magnificent lodge meeting halls.

The ceiling of one gallery is decorated with images of King Solomon.

The same gallery today, stripped of its Masonic furnishings




Solomon looking over the plans for the Temple, in the background.

"Solomon's Judgement," the famous instance of two women claiming to be mothers of
the same newborn child. Solomon calls their bluff, and threatens to cut the child in half,
causing the liar to confess her fraudulent claim.

The opportunity to acquire the building outright was spearheaded in 1901 by the Grand Master (and Mayor of Rome at the time, by the way) Ernesto Nathan – the 7-story, 405-room palace was sold to the Grand Orient for 1,055,000 lireAccounting for inflation since 1901 and the conversion rate between the Italian Lira and the U.S. Dollar, that original 1,055,000 lire purchase price calculates out to about US$11 billion today. 

That's with a B. Give or take. 

The Senate set aside space in the Palazzo for the Masons' return after WWII, but about 40 years later even that reduced area became too much room for the GOI to deal with. In 1981, the notorious P2 (Propaganda Due) scandal became an international crime headline-grabber. The complex plot involved a former Grand Orient Masonic lodge being operated without a charter by its expelled Worshipful Master, Licio Gelli, with a thousand secret members as a front for organized crime, government corruption, killings, terrorist attacks, bombings, and even the theft of a substantial sum of cash from the Vatican's own bank accounts. Even today, the P2 lodge is often described as having been a "shadow government," made up of evildoing Masons in high-ranking military and government positions. 

Even though the P2 lodge was operating illegally and the Grand Orient expelled and denounced all those involved, the European press rarely took care to explain the reality of the situation or make clear that thousands of rank and file Masons had nothing to do with Gelli's crimes. To this day, Freemasons all across Europe are frequently outed by the press and denounced as criminals primarily because the P2 scandal was so notorious. The reputation of the fraternity worldwide was sullied by the press coverage of the whole affair, even though the actual participants had nothing to do with Freemasonry.

In 1985 the Grand Orient moved its headquarters down the road into a much more modest (but still not-exactly scruffy) home –  the Villa Medici del Vascello in Rome (photo below), purchased at that time from Princess Elvina Pallavicini. 

Current home of the Grand Oriente d'Italia, in the former Villa Medici del Vascello.
Photo from the GOI website.

A departure agreement made in 1991 with the Senate was supposed to provide a large area at the Palazzo for an Italian Museum of Freemasonry – which never materialized. According to a 1985 article in La Repubblica, four floors of the Palazzo remained partially decorated with imagery of the Masonic fraternity.

NOTE: My own mastery of Italian is limited to "Ciao!" and "Pronto!", asking waiters for my dinner check to be handed over to the wealthier-looking guy at the next table, and shouting down the hall for an extra roll of carta igienica. Consequently, my deciphering details from Italian articles can't be trusted. But below is my probably-terrible English translation – aided by Google Translate:
"[T]he Sancta Sanctorum remains, that is, the main temple of the Grand Orient and five other smaller temples. It is here that at least once a week, at the behest of the grand master, Armando Corona, what the Freemasons call their "ritual work" takes place. Here is the "hall of [winding] steps", here are the Workshops, "sacred spaces above and outside the world", with the entrance located to the west, the blue-vaulted roof dotted with constellations with the signs of the zenith and of the nadir, and the black and white checkered floor to recall that of Solomon's Temple.
"The Grand Master's throne is surmounted by a canopy of blue fabric with gold fringes. On the eastern wall stand the initials of the phrase: "To the glory of the great architect of the universe". The statues of Hercules, Venus and Minerva next to the three flame lamps and the three love knots symbolize strength, beauty and wisdom. Wisdom, for the Grand Master Armando Corona, was to give victory to the Senate, which for years and years had been claiming the four floors of Palazzo Giustiniani occupied by the Grand Orient.
"However, I set one condition," says Corona. "Given that our name derives from the Giustiniani Palace, it is right and indispensable that in this palace the Grand Orient preserves at least one "ubi consistam" – some rooms – in order to symbolically justify its denomination". According to the compromise, three floors for a total of approximately three thousand square meters will be sold to the Senate and - in exchange for a symbolic rent with no deadlines - the first floor will instead be kept for the Grand Orient, where Corona intends to set up a permanent exhibition of the history of Freemasonry and in which the main temple will be maintained for its esoteric rites..."
It's true that governments generally have more money than either Elon Musk or God (in that order), but something tells me that the Italian Senate has no intention of offering to buy their longtime digs back from the Masons for US$11 billion.

 From Il Tempo: "Giustiniani Palace. A glimmer of light for the Freemasonry museum/Il Tempo" reported by Riccardo Mazzoni:
After a century of battles, the Freemasons managed to reopen the case of Palazzo Giustiniani, the historic seat of the Grand Orient of Italy expropriated by the fascist regime. The Supreme Court of Cassation has in fact annulled the ruling of the Council of State which had established the jurisdiction of the ordinary judge on the issue, and the TAR will therefore have to judge. 
The Grand Orient of Italy had denounced the lack of the preliminary condition of the legitimate exercise of the power of the Italian State, i.e. the failure to declare the nullity of the deed of sale drawn up way back in 1911 in favor of Urbs (real estate company of the Grand Orient of Italy), with the consequence that, since the ownership deed in the company remained in force, the pre-emption decree issued by the government could not constitute a transfer deed in favor of the latter, an argument fully accepted by the Supreme Court.
The Grand Orient of Italy reiterated that the judicial initiative is aimed exclusively at restoring the truth of the facts to history, "in the full conviction that historical truth represents the foundation of the essence of the democratic state".
"The united sections of the Court of Cassation, Grand Master Stefano," Bisi told Tempo, "agreed with us: we denounced and argued that the fascist regime could not legitimately exercise the right of pre-emption on Palazzo Giustiniani because the purchase deed had not been declared null and void in our favor. Now I hope that the President of the Senate Ignazio La Russa will summon us to find an agreement to hand over at least those 140 square meters to make the museum of Italian Freemasonry as foreseen by the agreement signed in 1991 by President Giovanni Spadolini and the Grand Orient of Italy."
The judicial process was restarted by the will of the current council at the end of July 2020: thanks to painstaking work done in the archives of the Grand Orient of Italy, fundamental documents were recovered thanks to which an appeal was presented to the TAR of Lazio on 29 July 2020 against the Senate «for the investigation and declaration of the abusive occupation of Palazzo Giustiniani, the historic seat of Freemasonry which was acquired by force of public property, with a sham transaction which forced the Grand Orient to recognize the legitimacy of the expropriation". But for this renunciation the fascist state promised compensation, and this was the basis that opened the way to the appeal. The one faced by the Freemasonry of Palazzo Giustiniani was an authentic judicial ordeal, starting from the sentence of '53 of the Court of Appeal of Rome which declared the action for annulment due to the defect of consent causing violence to be extinguished "by statute of limitations", because the The action "should have been carried out within five years of the events", i.e. in the period in which fascism exercised its maximum violence. A paradoxical motivation, therefore. The Lazio Regional Administrative Court's ruling in December 2021, confirmed by the Council of State, then constituted yet another mockery, sending the dispute back to the jurisdiction of the ordinary judge. Now the Court of Cassation has brought justice, and the hope is that the final word will be put to an end to an affair which certainly does no credit to the republican state, which for decades has in fact legitimized an abuse of power perpetrated by the fascist regime with violence. Alongside judicial truth, therefore, there is also a political and institutional question of great importance: the repudiation of a false right acquired through a crime against humanity, which was in effect the persecution of the Freemasons culminating in the hunt merciless on the night of San Bartolomeo. "It cannot be tolerated," Bisi stated on several occasions, "that an undue claim by a State like Italy, which is the homeland of Democracy, Justice and Freedom, could be based on this crime." © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED Pdazzo Giustiniani It was the historic headquarters of the Grand Orient of Italy (LaPresse)