Monday, April 16, 2012

Inside Naval Lodge No. 4, Washington, D.C.

by Guest Contributor 
W.M. Gregory J. Knott
St. Joseph Lodge No. 970 (IL)

Naval Lodge No. 4
There is nothing more exciting than a trip to our nation’s capital, Washington D.C.  This city is alive with the history of our past and with those of the present who are making the history of our future.  For Freemasons visiting D.C. there are numerous sites to see such as the Scottish Rite House of the Temple, the George Washington National Memorial in Alexandria, VA and the Order of the Eastern Star International Headquarters

Not only can you visit these magnificent structures, you also have the opportunity to visit any one of number of lodges in the District, which is under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia, Free Ancient Accepted Masons, which was founded in 1811.

Unique winding staircase
On my recent trip, I visited Naval Lodge No 4.  Naval Lodge is actually older than the Grand Lodge of D.C., having been founded on May 14, 1805 under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Maryland.  When the Grand Lodge of D.C. was established, it came under their jurisdiction. 

If you have read Dan Brown’s novel The Lost Symbol, you know that Naval Lodge was featured in his book and may also appear in the upcoming movie.  Naval Lodge owns its lodge building located at 330 Pennsylvania SE, Washington, D.C.  This building is very unique and the lodge is located on the 4th floor--the other floors in the building are rented by tenants.  To get to the fourth floor, you can either take the elevator or the very unique staircase.  The elevator is a small hand-operated elevator believed to be the oldest operating elevator in D.C.  On lodge nights, one of the brethren is on hand to work the elevator.    The stairwell is seemingly interwoven into the building and as you gaze up from the bottom, you can see the bannisters of each level above you.

Upon my arrival, I was greeted warmly by the Brethren of Naval Lodge.  I rode the historic elevator up to the fourth floor, got off and entered the dining room.  The dining room was simple, yet functional, and we had a fine dinner prior to the meeting.

Naval Lodge No. 4 Lodge Room
With D.C. being such a transient city, most of the Naval Lodge members are from other parts of the country.  This creates real diversity within its membership--the night of my visit, I spoke with Brethren working on Capitol Hill, members of the military, small business owners and federal employees.  Naval Lodge like many others is in the midst of a rebirth of sorts.  The membership is young and energetic.  There were ten Fellowcrafts going through the degrees.  Quite a turnaround, since one member told me that just a few years ago, Naval Lodge was about to close its doors forever.

Beautiful vaulted ceiling with starry sky above
After dinner, we adjourned to the Lodge Room.  This room is nothing short of spectacular and is based on ancient Egyptian themes.  It has a towering 2-story tall vaulted ceiling with a starry decked sky in the center, and a singular alter light far overhead.  This is surrounded by a series of Egyptian eagles in gold.  The Masters station in the East contains an alcove which is painted with a historical mural in the rear.  There is an obelisk on each side with an arch painted with numerous hieroglyphics on each side.  The letter "G" appears in blue above the Masters chair.

Naval Lodge altar featuring three books of faith
The Senior and Junior Warden’s station are also high ornate, with the Senior Warden's station being the most ornate.  His station is surrounded by 2 pillars, and behind the Senior Warden's chair there is another mural.  In the center of the room is the altar, sitting on a mosaic pavement, and surrounded by the three lesser lights.  Upon the altar rests several books of faith representing the religious diversity of the membership. 

It was a great visit and the brethren of Naval Lodge should be commended for reinvigorating their lodge membership and preparing this historic lodge for another 207 years of Freemasonry.   Should you find yourself in Washington D.C., Naval Lodge meets the 1st and 3rd Thursday’s at 7:30pm with dinner served before the meeting at 6:30pm. 

I wish to thank the Brethren of Naval Lodge for a great visit and I hope to sit in lodge with them again in the near future.

G.K.

I'd like to thank Bro. Gregory J. Knott for sharing this story with us--I've been pestering him for a long time to write a piece.  He has the opportunity to travel quite a bit, and always visits Masonic Lodges during his travels, and other places of interest to Masons.  He always has great stories to tell--and great photos, too.  Greg has agreed to become a regular contributor to The Midnight Freemason.  I think you'll enjoy both his photographs, and the stories he has to tell about the places he's visited.  I'm looking forward to this partnership--Greg's going to take us to a lot of interesting places.  

Greg is the Worshipful Master of St. Joseph Lodge No. 970 in St. Joseph, Illinois and a plural member of Ogden Lodge No. 754, and Homer Lodge No. 199.  Greg is also a charter member (and Secretary) of the soon-to-be chartered Illini High Twelve Chapter No. 768 in Champaign-Urbana (IL)--a little project he and I have been working on for some time.  Greg is also very involved in Boy Scouts--an Eagle Scout himself, he serves the Grand Lodge of Illinois as their representative to the National Association of Masonic Scouters.

~TEC

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