A couple of years ago I called the Masonic Temple on the Post Road “the spookiest spot in Westport.” In the Comments section, Tony Giunta invited me to come see how un-scary it was.
Recently, the 1964 Staples grad — and current Worshipful Master — repeated the invitation.
The other day, I took him up on his offer. Despite occupying the top 2 floors of a building that also houses a funeral parlor, the building on the corner of the Post Road and Imperial Avenue is not particularly spooky.
A bit dated, perhaps. But also — as Tony notes — one of “the best-kept secrets in Westport.”
Our Temple Lodge #65 has been around since 1824 — more than a decade before Westport itself was incorporated. After convening at various spots (including National Hall), the local chapter of the centuries-old international organization moved into the then-new building in 1911.
The Masons have been there — meeting the 2nd and 4th Thursday of every month — ever since.
There are now about 100 Masons, though a typical meeting draws 40 or so. The lodge includes a parlor, dining room, kitchen, library, foosball room and large meeting room.
The meeting room includes a clock from Jason Robards’ estate, and an altar. “We’re not a religious organization. But to join you must have a belief in a Supreme Being,” Tony explained.
“We don’t discuss religion or politics in meetings,” he added. “That causes too much discord.”
Meetings are governed by rituals, but include committee reports, information on the welfare of brothers, and discussions of charitable works.
Tony joined in 2007, after retiring from the Westport Police Department. He’d been a Kiwanis Club member and worked with the Y, but had always wanted to be a Mason.
He proudly showed me a list of previous Masters. Well-known Westport names like George Constantikes, Don Goss, Tom Hofstetter, George Underhill, Carl Cirino and Rocco Frank are inscribed in careful calligraphy.
In earlier times, the list included Westporters from famed families like the Fables, Wakemans, Sniffens, Bradleys and Krauses.
As Tony conducted his tour, I realized that the Masonic Lodge is not a scary building. Instead, it’s simple — and historic.
Plus, it’s got a killer view of the Memorial Day parade. Every May, the Masons gather there.
When it’s over, the bagpipers come upstairs. And then the real party begins.