Tag Archives: Westport Masonic Hall

Photo Challenge #220

I thought last week’s Photo Challenge was one of those hiding-in-plain-sight views.

But plenty of people instantly knew: J.P. Vellotti’s image showed the sculpture on the front of 210 Post Road East.

That’s the building on the corner of Imperial Avenue that houses Harding Funeral Home.

More importantly — for this story, anyway — it’s also the home of Masonic Temple Lodge #65.

Westport’s Masons have been around since 1824 — more than a decade before Westport was incorporated. The Post Road building has been their headquarters since 1911 — before anyone currently living here was born.

But the sculpture — actually, the Masons’ symbol — was not affixed to the building until last November. It hasn’t escaped the notice of Westporters, apparently.

The symbol (click here for the photo) depicts the square and compass used by stonemasons. (The Freemasons trace their origins to 14th century stonemasons.) The “G” — sometimes used in the symbol, sometimes not — refers to either “geometry” or “Great Architect of the Universe” (God).

You can read all about the sculpture, and its placement on the Westport building, here (hat tip: Elaine Marino). And click here for my 2015 story on my visit to the Lodge.

Congratulations to Fred Cantor, John L. Krause, Michael Calise, Andrew Colabella, Jonathan McClure, Michael A. Vitelli, Elaine Marino, Rich Stein, Bobbie Herman, Alan Goldberg, Diane Silfen, Dianne Ford, Molly Alger and James Leonard — alert “06880” readers all, who knew exactly where to find last week’s Photo Challenge.

Here’s this week’s Challenge. If you know where in Westport you’d find this, click “Comments” below.

(Photo/Chip Stephens)

 

Masons’ Temple Lodge: Not The Scariest Building In Westport. My Bad.

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.

Westport's Temple Lodge #65.

Westport’s Temple Lodge #65.

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 Mason's meeting room.

The Masons’ 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.

Tony Giunta, in the meeting room.

Tony Giunta, in the meeting room.

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.

The downtown view, from Temple Lodge #65.

The downtown view, from Temple Lodge #65.

The Spookiest Spot In Westport

Westporters descend downtown this weekend for twin draws: the library book sale and Fine Arts Festival.  Most activity will be by the river; if merchants are lucky, folks will wander into stores to buy belts or socks or whatever is on sale these days.

As we do the rest of the year, we’ll completely ignore a building that sits near the heart of downtown, yet is as far removed from it as Sarah Palin is from actually governing Alaska.

Westport's Masonic Hall

What’s up with our Masonic Hall?

What goes on there?  Has anyone ever been inside the “lodge”?  Who is the current Worshipful Master?  What would happen if a woman tried to join?  Does anyone know an actual Mason?  What do the Masons actually do?

And is anything more spookier than being located above a funeral home?

The Masons have been in Westport since 1824 — more than a decade before the town’s founding.  They’ve been in the present building since 1902.  Which — and I’m just speculating here — is the last time anyone heard anything about a Masons’ meeting.  They do keep a low profile.

To be fair, the Masons are not stuck in the John Quincy Adams administration.  They have a website.

Unfortunately, though the words look normal, I could not decipher them.  Here, for example, is what appears under something called “Temple Lodge Table Lodge June 25, 2009”:

In the Spirit of Kipling:

The cannons were all ready and aligned. The Brothers were all trained and prepared.

And so the battle began.

Table Lodge 2009

Cannons to the South, Cannons to the West, Volleyed and Thundered. Half a liter, half a liter, half a liter downward as we all took part in the festivities. The toasts were all sincere and well delivered, the timing only improved with practice. To all those who spoke and those that par took, it was truly a great night. But to all of us to a man, the last toast should be dedicated to those who served best; in the kitchen and in the Lodge to the chiefs and stewards, for the food was of quality and the powder in good supply. So from those of us that charged the Valley and those that stood by, join me as we pay tribute to those Noble Servants.

Ready….Aim…..Fire……Good Fire….Fire All.

VIVAT! VIVAT! VIVAT!

How cool is that!

Though please forgive me if I skitter past the Hall this weekend, on my way to the library book sale.  I just feel more comfortable with things written in the English language.