Even were it not for the fact that this renaissance/classical style building is called “The Masonic Temple”, the iconic compass and square symbol atop the building immediately gives it away as a Masonic/ Freemason building.
What particularly intrigued me about the building were the two dates displayed there-on, 1928 and 1890. For an organisation full of symbolism and, some would say, shrouded in mystery and secrecy I wondered what deep meaning might lie behind the display of these two dates – and also, if you notice in the picture, why do they read ‘backwards’ looking at the building.
Had there just been one date I would have assumed that it was the date the building was constructed or opened.
In researching this review I found the reason for the two dates to be rather simple and, disappointingly for me, certainly lacking in any mystery. A single story temple was constructed on this site in 1890. In 1928 a second story was added. Why they didn’t display 1890 on the left hand side of the name and 1928 on the right hand side eludes me – perhaps there-in lies a mystery for someone else to solve!
Now that the date mystery has been more or less resolved I can enlighten you further on the building itself.
The original 1890 building and the 1928 extension were both designed by architect, E.C Manfred. Manfred was a prolific designer of buildings in Goulburn in the late 1800s and early 1900s, a dozen or so of which remain intact to-day. He even designed the bandstand in Belmore Park.
The addition of the second story had to be delayed while plans were adjusted to raise the ceiling about 1 metre to accommodate a pipe organ built by S.W. Leggo, of Manly (Sydney). The organ, still in operation today, cost GBP1,000 and was donated by W.J. Bartlett the founder of the Goulburn Brewery which is, incidentally, also still in operation (the brewery that is and not, alas, Mr Bartlett).
The 1928 extension was officially opened by His Excellency, the Governor General, Lord Stonehaven, as Grand Master of the Masonic Lodge in NSW, on 27 March, 1929.
I imagine many readers will already be aware of, and have well developed views on, Freemasons. This is not the place to espouse my views or elicit debate. I will however include a little background on Freemasonry for the benefit of those who may not be familiar with the concept. There are few organisations in the world that have had more written about them and which elicit more debate than the Freemasons so an interested reader will have no problems exploring further.
Freemasonry (now a world wide movement) traces its origins to groups of stonemasons, builders and tradesmen in the Middle Ages who got together in Britain to regulate the qualifications of masons and their interaction with authorities and clients – akin to craft guilds and perhaps the forerunners of today’s professional organisations or indeed unions.
For the position and role of Freemasons today I will leave you with some information from the website of the Masonic Higher Education Bursary Fund (instituted by the Grand Lodge of Alberta, Canada).
“Freemasonry is one of the world’s oldest secular fraternal societies. Freemasonry instils in its members a moral and ethical approach to life: it seeks to reinforce thoughtfulness for others, kindness in the community, honesty in business, courtesy in society and fairness in all things. Members are urged to regard the interests of the family as paramount but, importantly, Freemasonry also teaches and practices concern for people, care for the less fortunate and help for those in need. In essence it is a beautiful system of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols.
Kindness in the home –
honesty in business
Courtesy in society –
fairness in work
Resistance toward the wicked –
pity and concern for the unfortunate
Help for the weak –
trust in the strong
Forgiveness for the penitent –
and, above all,
Love for one another –
and reverence and love for God.
Freemasonry is a way of life.”
Women are, as a rule, not accepted as members.
The first masonic lodge in Goulburn was instituted in 1849 by the Rev William Ross, the towns first Presbyterian Minister. There are currently three Masonic lodges in the city – the Goulburn Lodge of Australia number 58, the Lodge William Ross number 76 and Goulburn District Lodge 1024.
Address: Bourke Street
Directions: Across the road from the parkland beside St Saviour’s Cathedral
My next Goulburn review– HERE
Return to the beginning of my Goulburn reviews –HERE