Thursday, May 6, 2010

Guest Article: Visiting the Washington Masonic Memorial

Brother Nick Schlossmacher is a good friend of mine who is extremely dedicated to the Craft. He participates in a long list of activities in Freemasonry. I have witnessed him performing degree work and participating in Lodge meetings, including Sir Winston Churchill Lodge No. 351 and Braden Lodge #168. Brother Nick is a prime example of the future of Freemasonry. He has kindly written an article for this site about his trip to the GWMM in Alexandria. You can follow him on Twitter @njschloss


First of all, I would like to say thank you to WB Nick Johnson for running such a great blog. He is truly one of the most dedicated masons I know, and I feel honored to be able to contribute.

One of the great privileges that we enjoy as Masons is the ability to visit other lodges. It’s a great way to go and meet people from all walks of life, and gives us an opportunity to sample the different varieties of Masonry. I have always made it a point to try and attend a lodge meeting, or do some Masonic sight seeing when traveling. Recently I got to visit Washington D.C., and had an amazing experience there. Everyone knows that there is an immense amount of stuff to see in our nation’s capitol. You can walk around on the mall and see the monuments, spend a week walking around in the Smithsonian museums (and still not see everything), or even take a day trip to Mount Vernon. As a Mason though, the one place you have to go is the George Washington Masonic memorial.

If you ever find yourself in D.C. with some time to spare, hop on a blue or yellow line metro and take it to the King Street station in Alexandria. About a block away from the station is the George Washington Masonic Memorial. It stands 333 feet tall, and was built to resemble the ancient Egyptian lighthouse of Alexandria. It has ten stories inside, and is truly an amazing building.

The tour of the building was fantastic, from the main lobby with the 17 foot tall statue of George Washington, all the way to the observation deck on the top floor. The first stop on the guided tour is a museum dedicated to George Washington, sponsored by the Scottish Rite. It contains a lot of artifacts including Washington’s Masonic bible. The other floors on the guided tour are all sponsored by appendant bodies of masonry consisting of the orders of the York Rite, and the Tall Cedars of Lebanon. I could write about it forever, or you could go take an online tour of the building at, and see for yourself (they’re much better at it than I am anyway).

I got the pleasure of meeting the curator of the museum, WB Mark Tabbert. He showed us around to some other parts of the building that aren’t on the tour. We also got to see a storage room where they had grand lodge proceedings from all around the country. Some of these dated as far back as the 1700s, and they are currently working on converting them to digital format and creating a massive electronic Masonic archive.

There are also two lodge rooms in the memorial, and we got to attend a meeting at Alexandria-Washington lodge no. 22. This lodge was originally founded in 1783 in Pennsylvania, and moved its charter to Virginia in 1788 when George Washington was master of the lodge. It is one of the oldest active lodges in the country, and is full of rich Masonic history. The night we were there we got to see a presentation by an English Masonic author named Julian Rees. He gave a talk about his most recent work, titled “So you want to be a Freemason?”, and how as Masons we need to focus more about getting back to our Masonic roots. The meeting came to a close, and after spending nearly the whole day at the memorial, it was time to say goodbye.

I want to give a special thank you to WB Mark Tabbert for taking the time out of his day to show us around and being so hospitable. I also want to extend a special thank you to WM Andrew Hammer of Alexandria-Washington 22 for welcoming us into the lodge, and for presenting me with an AW22 pin.

I highly recommend anyone who is visiting the D.C. area to go and visit the memorial, whether you’re a Mason or not. There’s something for everyone to see there, and the tours are free.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Sir Winston Churchill 3rd Degree

I was present at a truly amazing event for Minnesota Masonic history, the first raising of one of the newest Lodges in this jurisdiction, Sir Winston Churchill Lodge No. 351. The ranks of the Lodge are filled with many brilliant and distinguished brothers of this state including Past Grand Masters, Monitors of the Ritual Work, Past Masters of many Lodges, and some of the brightest minds in Minnesota Masonry. The Lodge is built upon the traditions of British Masonry, hence it's patron being the great British politician and Brother, Sir Winston Churchill. The Lodge, however, performs the Minnesota work, our own variation of Preston-Webb, which they performed last night in perfect form.

The Lodge moved its charter to the Minneapolis Valley Scottish Rite Temple to perform this Third Degree. The Minneapolis Valley is one of the few Valleys in this country that performs all 29 degrees of the Scottish Rite. I am not a member of the Scottish Rite, but visiting this beautiful and intriguing building has begun to whet my appetite for more Masonic participation. The building is epic, filled with a maze of different rooms and caverns. Strange implements of degrees I haven't taken a part. The library was amazing and the main room raised a canopy like those of heaven, just a beautiful sight to behold.

The idea of putting on this degree in the cavernous confines of the sacred space, with its various Masonic and Scottish Rite adornments defining the experience to be had within. How beautiful and fitting to confer the last and highest degree of Ancient Craft Masonry in this Temple dedicated to our highest aspirations and duties as Freemasons.

The degree work was done with great care and skill, led by Most Worshipful Brother Tom Jackson in the East. The entire degree work was performed, including the lectures, in handsome form. The lectures were crazy well-done by Bob and Doug, the Second lecture by Dan and the full third lecture by John. I really feel that the candidate got something from it. The brothers of this Lodge know their stuff and I was totally impressed. After the degree was conferred, I met with my friend and Brother, Nick, who had just returned from Washington, D.C. and was fortunate enough to sit in George Washington's home Lodge, Alexandria-Washington No. 22, and he returned with a gift for me, a pin from its Worshipful Master for this year. Nick is an extremely well-traveled brother with, dare I say (dare, dare) more knowledge of the Craft than me.

I'll try to get pictures of the event and publish them below.