The Grand Lodge of New York is right in the middle of the chaos of Manhattan, yet inside it feels like a completely different world. Located on 23rd Street just a block from Madison Square Park, the Grand Lodge was completed in 1912 and has 12 ornate meeting halls. It also houses the Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Masonic Library that has one of the world’s biggest collections of Freemasonry research materials. On February 28, the New York Obscura Society learned about some of the library’s occult secrets.
Our tour was led by the incredibly knowledgeable Tom Savini, who serves as director of the library, and was a glimpse into the history of the Freemasons, as well as some of the unique items in the library. The library, which has existed for 150 years, is as much as museum as a place of research, with art, artifacts, lantern slides, and even an old grandfather clock to go with the library’s 60,000 volumes on Masonic history, the occult, symbolism, and other related subjects. As Savini told us, “Masonry is made up of great stories” and the information offered takes a very broad scope to “represent and collect the culture of Freemasonry.”
Masons and non-Masons are always welcome to visit the library during its open hours, so if you didn’t make it to the tour there are still opportunities to explore. The Grand Lodge also offers weekly free tours that we highly recommend. It is surely the Flatiron district’s most occult experience, and the Lodge is definitely one of the borough’s most open secret places. Below are more photos from the New York Obscura Society’s evening learning about the symbolism and rituals of the Freemasons:
Painting by Ari Roussimoff
Masonic card files, from Science and Shakers to Tennyson and Tredwell.
Masonic grandfather clock, complete with a compass behind the hands.
Ceramic jug covered in Masonic symbols.
A perhaps exaggerated depiction of a Masonic ritual.
Obscura Society attendees in the Masonic Library.
Detail on an antique chair with Masonic symbols.
Photographs by the author for Atlas Obscura
The Obscura Society is the real-world exploration arm of Atlas Obscura We seek out secret histories, unusual access, and opportunities for our community to explore strange and overlooked places hidden all around us. Join us on our next adventure!