Thursday, June 4, 2015

Cornerstones and Masons

This is a portion of a picture that I posted recently talking about the cornerstone laying of Temple De Hirsch in 1901.  Check out the symbol on the side of the stone.  Yup, it's a masonic symbol.  Freemasonry can produce a lot of controversy especially among people not familiar with the order.  My father, grandfather, great great grandfather and other relatives (even Maier Zunder) have all been members of masonic lodges at some time in their lives.  As an early adolescent I was a member of Job's daughters, loved all that great ritual.

The Masons had their roots as masons, bricklayers, it's a very old order.  But apparently, one thing they do (and maybe still do) is to do cornerstone laying ceremonies of public and religious buildings.  Even George Washington conducted a masonic cornerstone laying on the Capital though the box is unfound and contents unknown (according to Time Magazine).  So the masonic symbol really didn't have much to do with the fact that this building (which never was built at that location) was to be a Jewish synagogue as much as they may have participated in the ceremony.

Reading Jarvis "Time Capsules: A Cultural History", I realize that the boxes put into cornerstones are not time capsules because time capsules have specified dates in the future where they will be opened.  Not so with cornerstone layings.  Maybe more related to relics buried when building churches to consecrate the site.

Turns out there's one associated with Denny Hall, the oldest building at the University of Washington.  The original site of the university was in downtown Seattle.  When the current site was being developed, the contents of the cornerstone in the original building from 1861 was recovered and deposited in the current building.

So it all becomes more complicated.

No comments: