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I’m curious about the Masonic Temple on Peachtree, next to the Amtrak Station. Can I look around?
In a recent issue of the brotherhood’s quarterly, the Northern Light, Sovereign Grand Commander John William McNaughton says the Masonic fraternity has lost two-thirds of its members worldwide over the past fifty years. In 2050, McNaughton wonders, “Will we be the fraternity of choice? Will there be the vision and wisdom to continue remodeling our Temple?” I cannot speak to the first question posed by McNaughton. But after a recent visit, I can tell you that the Temple on Peachtree—in which local initiates of what’s been called the world’s largest secret society socialize and self-improve—could use some remodeling. Better lighting, to start. But see for yourself: The curious are welcome, so long as they aren’t “cowans [cowards] and eavesdroppers,” says an older gentleman who presides over the visitors desk, quoting, he says, from Masonic text. He can’t describe the arcane rituals to me, since I’m not “a brother,” he says, nor can he take me to the top floor, where “scenes are set up from heaven to hell.” But he does show me around a few stately rooms, including a hall filled with pictures of dead Masons and a memorabilia room where the world’s only Lunar Bible was recently kept. “This place is okay,” he says. “I just like the guys.” If you’re at least twenty-one, male, “under the tongue of good repute,” and have a petition of recommendation started, you can join them.
Illustration by Edwin Fotheringham
Got an Atlanta question? E-mail Charles Bethea at firstname.lastname@example.org