With mystery comes intrigue and there has been plenty of intrigue and outrageous conspiracy theories and speculation about the Freemasons. There are many Masonic Lodges and temples scattered across the nation and around the world. Like any church or meeting place, they are sometimes abandoned. One of the most iconic derelict Masonic temples is perhaps the Newburgh Masonic Temple which has been abandoned since 1984.
Another abandoned Rust Belt place of assembly is the large and abandoned City Methodist Church in Gary. The Rust Belt is something of a paradise for urban explorers. Another part of the world full of old, abandoned, and decaying buildings is the former Soviet Union. Sometimes the sheer number of abandoned infrastructure there makes one feel like one is in the ruins of an empire.
What Is Freemasonry?
The website of the Grand Lodge of Ohio states that:
"Freemasonry is the leading fraternal organization in the world... As a fraternal organization, Freemasonry unites men of good character who, though of different religious, ethnic or social backgrounds, share a belief in the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of mankind."
According to them the worldwide membership of Freemasons is:
- Worldwide: 3 Million Members
- North America: 1.1 Million Members
- Ohio: 70,000 Members
The basic organizational unit of Freemasonry is the Masonic Lodge. The Lodge meets regularly and conducts its business. Ohio has some 450 local Lodges. Much of what the Masons do is secret.
There is no clear date of origin for the Freemasons and much of how they came about seems to have been lost to time. It is commonly believed that their origin goes to the stonemasons who built the castles and cathedrals of Medieval Europe.
It wasn't until 1717 that Masonry created the first formal organization called the Grand Lodge in England.
- 1717: The First Organized Grand Lodge Was Opened In England
The Masonic Lodge meets at what is knowns as a Masonic Temple or Masonic Hall. The Freemasons are fraternal organizations that trace their origins to the local guilds of stonemasons from the end of the 13th century. Traditionally women are not permitted to join the Freemasons.
- Origins: Date From the 13th Century But Much of The History Is Lost
There are believed to be over 13,000 Mason lodges in the United States, and many of the temples have fallen into dereliction and have been abandoned.
The Abandoned Newburgh Masonic Temple
One of the most notable abandoned Masonic temples is the old Newburgh Masonic Temple of Cleveland, Ohio.
There is no shortage of abandoned buildings, churches, and factories in the once-great Rust Belt. But this Masonic Temple has been reportedly abandoned since 1984 and now sits decaying and
Newburgh Masonic Temple is a three-story abandoned building in Newburgh in southeast Cleveland in Ohio. Once it functioned as a Masonic Temple.
- Address: 8910 Miles Park Avenue, Cleveland
The architect of the is temple was William J. Carter who was born in Cleveland and was chosen to design the temple in 1916. Construction was completed the following year in 1917. The first Mason meeting took place on May 31, 1917.
- Cost: Around $65,000 (or $1.3 In 2019 Dollars)
- Moved Out: The Masons Moved Out In 1969
The building had three floors with titled floors and would go on to be the meeting point of the local Masons for 52 years. But as the building aged and the cost of repairs and maintenance mounted, the decision was made to put the building up for sale in 1969. The Freemasons moved out and the building found other use for the next few years. But in 1984 it was abandoned for good according to Abandoned Spaces.
For 52 years, the building served its purpose as a meeting house. However, after a while, the cost of repair and maintenance of the building began to grow. In addition, the lack of safe parking in the nearby area was considered a major drawback.
Today the old temple is still standing but bears the scars of decay and vandalism.
There is no shortage of abandoned infrastructure throughout the Rust Belt. In Detroit, one can find the world's largest abandoned car factory - the Packard Automotive Plant.
Freemason Presidents of The United States
It is thought that at least 15 American presidents have been Freemasons (at least 31%) including George Washington and Franklin D Roosevelt according to the Museum of Freemasonry.
The Freemason presidents were George Washington, James Monroe, Andrew Jackson, James K. Polk, James Buchanan, Andrew Johnson, James A. Garfield, William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, William H. Taft, Warren G. Harding, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, Gerald Ford, and Lyndon Johnson.
- George Washington: Initiated In 1752 In Fredericksburgh Lodge
- Theodore Roosevelt: Initiated In 1901 in Matinecock Lodge
- Franklin D. Roosevelt: Initiated In 1911 In Marion Lodge