Feb 20, 2008

Masonic Time Capsule in New Jersey

Masonic Reception in France, 2nd Half Eighteenth Century

Lying fallow on the third floor, above shops and a travel agency, is a Masonic Temple built in 1923, but lost in a sheriff's sale in 1953; a sort of archaeological find in the business district of Manasquan NJ.

Standing in the Manasquan temple Friday, Goldstein said the room was designed to be a representation of the temple of King Solomon.

The two columns, one topped with a globe and another with an orb depicting stars, would traditionally be placed on either side of a door that was only used by candidates for Masonry. The candidates would have to walk through the door and between the columns three times during their initiation process, he said.

The Masons use symbols traditionally used by builders, including the square and compass, to teach moral lessons such as to "square your actions," Goldstein said.

The Manasquan temple was used by both the Royal Arch chapter and Wall Lodge 73 of the Masons until the group hit financial hard times during the Great Depression.

The temple's carved mahogany furnishings, Goldstein said, bear the same inscriptions as the temple walls and can now be found in his Spring Lake Heights lodge. Over the years, the lodge has taken in the remnants of Wall Lodge 73 and others from Spring Lake, Ocean Grove and Belmar and now has 300 members.

Rutkowski said the third floor's large room would have been used for regular membership meetings and the conferring of degrees to members.

"It's still well-preserved. It's a beautiful area," he said of the temple.

However, when asked about the meaning of the hieroglyphics on the walls, Rutkowski said, "I really don't know if I can tell you that. Some of that stuff I can't even read. It's the cryptic part of the Masons."

But, he added, "It's all scriptural, it's all out of the Bible."

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So is there any hope of restoring this lovely bit of history? Sadly, it doesn't look promising.

There was even some talk a while back of turning the building's third-floor hallway into a Masonic history museum in an attempt to raise funds to restore the temple, all to no avail, she said.

The Masons "would love to restore it, but we don't have the funds," Rutkowski said. "Someday, we might, but at this point it would just be a dream."

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