"To preserve the reputation of the Fraternity unsullied must be your constant care."

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Italian Masons Fight Anti-Masonic Political Foes


I'm not sure how seriously the average American Mason really takes it when I say that Brethren in other countries are badly discriminated against and are often under siege—frequently from their own governments.

In February last year, I reported on anti-Masonic activity taking place at the hands of the Italian government (see Italian Government Attempting Anti-Masonic Actions...Again HERE). The Italians keep at it by twisting anti-Mafia laws to use against Freemasonry (in much the same way RICO laws in the U.S. originally designed to fight organized crime got contorted and exploited and expanded back in the early 2000s to prevent anti-abortion protesters from marching in front of Planned Parenthood clinics). This sort of institutionalized anti-Masonry has briefly succeeded before in Italy after the notorious P2 scandal in the 1980s, and in England under then-Home Secretary Jack Straw. It was only stopped by a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in 2009 that decided laws demanding Freemasons turn over their lists of membership or personally declare their membership publicly as a requirement for employment or public office violated Article 41 of the European Union's Convention on Human Rights regarding free association and non-discrimmination against specifically Masonic organizations.

Last year, leaders of the three major Masonic obediences in Italy testified before a Parliamentary anti-Mafia Commission, chaired by a Ms. Rosy Bindi. Bindi insisted that Italy's Freemasons turn over their membership records to her Commission, but Stefano Bisi, Grand Master of the Grand Orient of Italy (23,000 members in 850 lodges), refused on the grounds of freedom of association and respect for privacy. Antonio Binnie, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Italy (8,000 members, 40% women, with 510 lodges), also refused to comply on behalf of his members. Only Fabio Venzi, Grand Master of the Regular Grand Lodge of Italy (3,500 members with 310 lodges) was willing to comply with the government Commission's demand.

To clarify: the Grand Orient of Italy is the largest obedience in that country, and it is the body that the overwhelming majority of U.S. grand lodges recognize.  And as implied above, the Grand Lodge of Italy is the second largest group, a mixed body that admits both men and women, and is not deemed regular by the overwhelming majority of the Masonic world. But in a rarity, the United Grand Lodge of England—from whom many U.S. grand lodges seek clarity and guidance—recognizes the much smaller and newer Regular Grand Lodge of Italy. The U.S. did not uniformly follow UGLE's action, and continues not to do so.

In March 2017, the AntiMafia Commission issued a search warrant demanding the turnover of computer servers and hard drives of the grand lodges and the grand orient—not just confined to the two provinces of Italy that were under investigation, but nationwide. Italian Freemasons are well aware from previous experiences just how damaging to their careers and public reputations it can be to have their Masonic memberships publicly declared in the press or other channels of communications. The country still has a strong anti-Masonic sentiment, so this is not a trivial concern.

The recent national elections of March 2018 decided 630 members of the Chamber of Deputies and 315 Senators. A center-right coalition emerged between two political parties—the League, and the Five-Star Movement—and they now comprise the majority in both the Chamber and the Senate. As part of their coalition agreement, the two parties signed a "Government Treaty" to share power. And a noteworthy part of that agreement is an Anti-Masonic clause that is believed by many observers to be clearly unconstitutional.

On Monday this week, May 21st, Stefano Bisi (photo right), Grand Master of the Grand Orient of Italy, wrote an appeal to the President of Italy, Sergio Mattarella, strongly objecting to the coalition treaty's anti-Masonic declaration. He will hold a press conference on Wednesday, and has invited the anti-Mafia Commission's new secretary, Marco di Lello to attend.

Bisi has circulated a letter to grand lodges throughout the world to shine a light on this new threat to the Masons of Italy, and can be read below (click image to enlarge).


Monday, May 21, 2018

Update On Japan


In March, I reported on recent actions within the Grand Lodge F&AM of Japan (see Turmoil In Japan) that included expulsions, a charter being suspended, the resignation of the Grand Secretary, and more. 

Norihiro Inmata, PGM
Word has come this weekend out of Japan that the Grand Lodge convened an extraordinary Communication on Friday, May 18th in order to handle some of the fallout from their annual meeting back in March. The result is that MW Norihiro Inmata, Past Grand Master (2016), has just been reinstated, and the charges against him, along with his expulsion, have been thrown out.

Additionally, the charter of historic Far East Lodge No. 1 has been reinstated by the Grand Lodge. 

The current Grand Lodge of Japan website has not yet been updated to reflect the changes, but it's early yet.


Philip A. Ambrose, PGM, PGS

Meanwhile, the immediate Past Grand Secretary and Past Grand Master (2002), Philip A. Ambrose (photo at left), has reportedly left Japan.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Thank You, Indiana


Well.

THAT was a surprise!

The Caleb B. Smith Medal of Honor is considered the highest award the Grand Lodge of Indiana can bestow. It was established in 1963, and has been given to a huge variety of impressive Freemasons over the years - as varied as J. Edgar Hoover, Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, Indianapolis Mayor William Hudnut, Dwight L. Smith, Red Skelton, CNN’s David Goodnow, many Past Grand Masters, and more.


The medal's namesake, Caleb Blood Smith, was a journalist, Indiana Speaker of the House, and a member of Abraham Lincoln's cabinet during the Civil War. One of the most eloquent orators of his day and known for his stentorian voice, he also served as Indiana's Grand Master in 1837, as the state's fraternity was endangered by the ongoing Morgan anti-Masonic fervor. He was credited with helping to sustain Freemasonry in the Hoosier state during this dark period.

So I was truly blindsided tonight when Grand Master Rodney A Mann called me to the dais along with Richard Hickam, our senior-most Past Grand Master (1970-71) who proceeded to pin this year’s medal on me.


When I turned to look behind me, I was surrounded by an impressive group of eminent brethren who have been previously so honored, all grinning like Cheshire cats.



To be awarded this medal tonight and in such a surprising way, surrounded by Masons and friends I have admired throughout my fraternal life, is one of the greatest moments I’ve had the privilege to experience. 


My heartfelt thanks to Rodney and to the members of the awards committee. I will strive to to live up to their confidence and to continue to do all I can to serve Indiana’s brethren each and every day.


Sunday, May 13, 2018

Thinking Differently About Lodge Locations

"From East to West;
From North to South;
From the Earth to the Heavens;
From its Surface to its Center;
To show the Universality of Masonry..."

Lodge meeting in a cave in Bisbee, Arizona in 1897

Freemasons, especially in the United States, have a long and colorful history of meeting and conferring degrees in unusual locations. In the earliest days of the Craft when permanent Masonic halls were not yet built, lodges most commonly met in taverns and inns that had a large, private meeting or dining room. Such public houses were frequently the center of their communities by virtue of having the biggest available meeting spaces. But Masonic lodges would also convene in school houses, court houses, private homes, attics, mills, caves, and countless other ingenious or shared locations. Traveling Military lodges had to be especially adaptable.




California's Volcano Lodge No. 56 in 1921

In the 20th and 21st centuries, these types of unique locations were resurrected and used more for dramatic effect than out of necessity.

This past week in Austin, Texas, a Master Mason degree was conferred in the State Capital's historic House Chamber by Texana Lodge No. 123, thanks to a Brother there who is also a State Representative.




Texas State Capitol in Austin


Brethren of Texana Lodge 123

Despite its early-sounding lodge number, Texana Lodge 123 was actually a reconstituted lodge that received its new charter in 2010.

Its much older namesake was originally chartered in 1852, but went defunct in 1883. The new lodge is headquartered in Texas' capital city of Austin, and so they take advantage of that strategic location and their very old heritage by using the statehouse's impressive facilities for special occasions (photos above and right).



The Grand Lodge of Kansas similarly holds various sessions and events like their Leadership Academies frequently in the Kansas Statehouse House chamber in Topeka (below).


And Washington, D.C.'s Naval Lodge No. 4 regularly confers the Entered Apprentice degree each year in a private room inside the U.S. Capitol (below).


Naval Lodge No. 4 at the U.S. Capitol





The International Peace Garden is a 2,300 acre botanical park straddling the U.S. and Canadian border between Dunseith, North Dakota and Manitoba. Opened in 1932, the Garden is a non-profit organization which is supported by several groups and fraternal organizations, including the Freemasons, Order of Eastern Star, American and Canadian Junior Red Cross, the Women’s Federated Institute of Canada, Odd Fellows, Rebekahs, Daughters of the British Empire (IODE), and the Knights of Columbus.

The distinctively shaped Masonic Auditorium was built in 1981, and sponsored by the Grand Lodge of North Dakota AF&AM and the Grand Lodge of Manitoba AF&AM. The combined 20,000 Masons of the two grand lodges at that time initiated the $775,000 project for concerts and practice sessions for the young people of the International Music Camp. The Masonic Auditorium is one of the many shared projects in the International Peace Garden that encourages friendship between people of the United States and Canada.



The International Peace Garden Lodge of Freemasons was formed in 1993 with joint warrants granted by the Grand Lodges of Manitoba, North Dakota and Minnesota. The Grand Lodge of Saskatchewan became a fourth chartering Grand Lodge in 2000. Its purpose is "to promote and enhance fraternal relations among Freemasons of North America and to assist in the expansion and maintenance of the International Peace Garden." It meets once a year in this special and very unique setting.

Outdoor degrees have long been a tradition practiced all over the U.S. I wrote last month about Freemasons and rock quarry degrees, but numerous jurisdictions have set aside special locations in unique settings for conferring degrees or holding meetings, sometimes tied to noteworthy dates or historic events.


Mullen Pass Historic Lodge No. 1862, near the Continental Divide, was the location of the first meeting of Freemasons in Montana in 1862. The outdoor site (above) is used every summer to commemorate that historic occasion.


Also in Montana is Bannack Historic Lodge 3-7-77 (above)that holds its meetings in Bannack State Park, the ghost town that was the original state capital.

But last weekend, brethren in Edmonton, Alberta sent me a video of an outdoor setting they spent several months creating for conferring the Master Mason degree, with their permission to share it here. Obviously, the brethren were obviously having fun by playing up the spookiness of being deep in the woods in their 'making-of' video (lest non-Masons get the wrong impression of what really happens in our degrees). But have a look at some of their outdoor decorating and staging ideas.






I know there are countless other jurisdictions where these types of innovative locations and many, many more are used. It's unfortunate when they get abused and contorted into purportedly "fun degrees" that use these unusual locations as an excuse to confer degrees in a decidedly un-serious, un-solemn manner (such as "mountain man" style, and the like). Masonic degrees are first and foremost designed to make an indelible impression upon the candidate in his once-in-a-lifetime experience, not to entertain and amuse the onlookers. But as long as everybody keeps that in mind, I think it's tremendous when excited brethren let their imaginations run wild with inventive staging.

As we often said in advertising, where do ideas come from? Somebody else! Steal it and claim it as your own.

New GM Of New Jersey Is On A Roll


I seem to be shouting out to old friends this week – maybe that's just the natural byproduct of being in the fraternity almost 20 years.

The Grand Lodge of New Jersey has had its share of internal troubles and disputes in the past, but they seem to have truly turned things around in the last couple of years. This year, my old friend MW Roger B. Quintana has been elected as Grand Master of New Jersey, and knowing him over the years, I had a sneaking suspicion he would shake things up when he got to the Grand East. 

Indeed he has.

Roger was just installed a month ago. Since then he has accomplished the following:
  • New Jersey can now open and do business on the EA and FC degree.
  • Lowered the number to constitute a new lodge from 50 to 25.
  • Allowed the ritual to be translated to other languages for approval.
  • Allowed the Chamber of Reflection as a tool to lodges that want it.
  • Re-recognized Cuba.
  • Made Senator Robert Menedez a Mason on sight.
  • Established on the Grand Lodge level a RW Grand Education Officer and RW Disrict Education Officer, separate from Ritual Instructors.
  • Established a RW Grand Almoner.
  • Establishing four new affinity lodges.
That was just his first month. And he promises more coming soon.

Any time I get a chance to chat with men on their way to being grand master in their jurisdiction, I always beg them to use their superpowers for Good, not Evil. Pass laws, adopt rules, and issue edicts that get out of the way, that encourage improving the lodge experience, and that help lodges to demand greatness of themselves. 

Roger's clearly doing that, and he's on a roll.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Congratulations To the Grand Lodge of New York

Photo by Gill Calderon

The Grand Lodge of New York F&AM held its annual communication this week and elected and installed their new officers for the year. Congratulations are in order to:
M.:W.: Bill Sardone, Grand Master
R.:W.: Richard Kessler, Deputy Grand Master
R.:W.: Rev. Charles Roberts, Senior Grand Warden,
R.:W.: Oscar Alleyne, Junior Grand Warden
R.:W.: Steven Adam Rubin, Grand Treasurer
R.:W.: Richard Schulz, Grand Secretary
M.:W.: Bill Sardone, the new Grand Master of New York


Nothing special in that, as nearly every jurisdiction meets each year or so to elect officers, to enact legislation, and handle administrivia that needs either approval or evisceration by the assembled members. Except that it WAS special in its own symbolic way. 

Because, you see, the election of my friend and Brother Oscar Alleyne as Junior Grand Warden (right) is the first time a 'man of color' has been elected by the membership to the grand officers' line in New York since the founding of of that grand lodge in 1782.

If you don't know Oscar, you should make the effort. Dr. Alleyne is the senior advisor on public health programs for the National Association of County and City Health Officials. He is a specialist in epidemiology, and he travels the country and the world giving lectures and presentations, and one of the side benefits of that is that he gets to visit Masons and lodges wherever he goes in his copious free time. He is also an engaging and outstanding speaker and presenter of Masonic education on a wide variety of topics, along with being an excellent ritualist. Oscar just seems to everywhere you look in this fraternity, and New York couldn't have made a better decision.

So congratulations to Grand Master Sardone and his officers, to Oscar, and to the brethren of New York!

Thursday, May 03, 2018

TripAdvisor Names Indianapolis Scottish Rite Cathedral To 'Most Beautiful' List


TripAdvisor.com has recently named our Indianapolis Scottish Rite Cathedral as one of “America’s 20 Most Beautiful Churches, Cathedrals & Basilicas Worth Visiting.”






For those who don't know (which includes most of our own citizens who walk or drive past it every day), the Cathedral is not a church and it's not Scottish, either. Indianapolis' is unique because it is the only one on the TripAdvisor list that was not designed as a religious house of worship, but as a ceremonial clubhouse for a fraternal organization, the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite of the Masonic fraternity. 

Among the others on the list were: Washington National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.; St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans; Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis in St. Louis, Missouri; Grace Cathedral in San Francisco; St. Patricks’ Cathedral and Trinity Church in New York City; Trinity Church in Boston; and Cathedral of St. Helena in Montana.




Our Gothic Revival Cathedral, owned by the Scottish Rite Valley of Indianapolis, was built between 1927 and 1929 on the eve of the Great Depression at a cost of $2.5 million (about $36 million today). It was designed by architect George F. Schreiber, and famously laid out in measurements of 33 or multiples of 33 feet. The Cathedral takes up an entire city block (330 feet long), and its 54-bell carillon tower stands over 200 feet tall.


I have been a member there since 2000, and I find something new every time I walk in. We have several extraordinarily knowledgable tour guides at the Cathedral, including my friend and Brother Carson Smith (left) who can give you the one-hour, the three-hour, the all-day, or even the two-day in-depth tour of the whole place. The stained glass windows alone can turn into an all-day study trip if you're not careful.

But be aware that the Cathedral is NOT open for tours on weekends, and only offers public tours Tuesday through Friday from 10AM-2PM. If those hours don't work for you, contact me and I can put you in touch with one of the Guides to see if a private, off-hour tour is possible. We are sort of at the mercy of the event planners in that respect.

Additionally, the Double Eagle Cafe is open to the public for lunch every Monday-Friday from 11AM - 2PM. It's quick, inexpensive, and traditional cafeteria-style. And it gives the perfect excuse to stop in and see the Cathedral if you've never been in it before.






The Cathedral is located at 600 North Meridian Street in Indianapolis, but don't be fooled - the main entrance is on the west side of the building (parking lot side), NOT the big doors on Meridian. 




(While downtown, walk across North Street and stop in at the Indianapolis Masonic Temple on Illinois Street. Compared to the gorgeous, blonde bombshell of the Cathedral, the Temple is sort of her frumpy, dowdy, glasses-wearing sister, and gets overlooked by many visitors to Indianapolis.  Don't skip it, because it is home to the Masonic Library and Museum of Indiana on the 5th floor, our Grand Lodge offices, numerous Masonic lodges and related bodies, our youth groups, the office of the Masonic Society, and more. On the ground floor is Indiana Freemasons' Hall, the unused 700+ seat auditorium where our annual communication was held for 50 years until the Scottish Rite was air conditioned in the 1960s.)



May: Speaking in Lexington, KY and Indianapolis, IN

I will have the honor of speaking at historic Lexington Lodge No. 1 in Lexington, Kentucky this coming Monday, May 7th for their Masonic Scholar Night. 

Lexington Lodge was chartered in 1788 by the Grand Lodge of Virginia as the first Masonic lodge west of the Appalachian Mountains, and it was in many ways the well-spring from which Masonry spread throughout the American West. From this starting point, lodges would be issued charges in what would eventually become nine other states across the Northwest Territory and more (including my home state of Indiana). So I am both honored and excited to have the opportunity to visit this most important lodge and its brethren.



The evening will start at 6:00 PM with a reception, featuring light refreshments and finger foods. Officers will process into lodge at 7:30 PM to open their regular Stated Communication. At the conclusion of business, the lodge will be set at ease so that EAs and FCs may also join in the presentation and discussion.




I figure I'm just genetically predisposed to cults. I became an Apple Computer True Believer in the 1990s. I joined the Freemasons. And now, if you've been following my personal Facebook page, you know that Alice and I just purchased a 23' Airstream trailer last weekend. Lexington will be our first shakedown trip to make sure everything works.






The 2018 Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of Indiana F&AM will be held Tuesday and Wednesday, May 15th and 16th at the Indianapolis Scottish Rite Cathedral. Following the close of the meeting and the grand officers' installation on Wednesday, I will be speaking at the Dwight L. Smith Lodge of Research on the subject of this year's Indiana's Masonic Bicentennial and my new book, Heritage Endures: Perspectives On 200 Years of Indiana Freemasonry

The meeting is ostensibly taking place at 12:30PM Wednesday the 16th on the 2nd floor of the Indianapolis Masonic Temple, but that will be entirely dictated by the actual close of festivities across the street.

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Making State Sponsored Anti-Masonry "Cute"

More and more restrictive government regimes around the world are deciding that unfiltered social media platforms can be hotbeds of dissent when it comes to the usual adoring press coverage they favor. The latest country to try to steer authorized online behavior and approved messaging in their citizens is Iran. 

It seems that Iran's officials were alarmed by the popularity among their citizenry of a messaging app called Telegram. So, they created one of their own, called Soroush (Farsi for the Angel Gabirel). And the theocracy and their intelligence services are using modern technology to reinforce some old favorite themes when it comes to the user experience. As with Telegram and other social media apps, Soroush chatterers can join groups, create channels, follow news, and send files, videos, pictures and audio. 

Gizmodo Australia reported late last week that Soroush comes complete with its own custom set of special emojis (or 'stickers') designed especially to be sensitive to government-approved Iranian culture. One set in particular that is getting lots of worldwide attention features a veiled woman dressed in a black chador and holding up various bits of signage and messaging to suitably reflect common emotions. As one might expect, they include the usual smattering of all-purpose hearts and flowers, and a cluster of celebratory balloons.



But it wouldn't be state-sponsored agitprop without a few more special characters. According to the Gizmodo article and others, also included are  "Death To America," "Death To Israel," and "Death to Influencers" smilies - or frownies, as the case may be - because you can't have enough emojis when you're inviting your buddies to the Two Minute Hate rally. 

There's also a blissfully smiling woman holding a framed photo of Iranian president Hassan Rouhani, and another, dressed in pink with the message "Let's Go Pray".

But one other image in the set is getting very little notice in comparison among the worldwide press:



It reads, "Death To Freemasons."

They left out a "Death To Emmanuel Goldstein" one. Perhaps in version 2.0...

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Watch MasonicCon 2018 Via Livestream Today

MasonicCon 2018 is going on today at Ezekiel Bates Lodge in Attleboro, Massachusetts. if you aren't able to be there in person, they are Livestreaming their programs throughout the day on Facebook. 

To watch the live video feed, CLICK HERE.

If you don't want to spend the entire day staring into your computer or squinting at your smartphone, be sure to check out the complete schedule of events and speakers on the MasonicCon 2018 website HERE.


Monday, April 23, 2018

More Masonic Temples Slip From Our Grasp (Part 2)

Oh, how I do so love our tree forts. Which is why it hurts so much to see them perish.


For lovers of lost architectural treasures, it's difficult to scan through the website of Chicago's Urban Remains. That sad site has been documenting the destruction of that great city's neglected, forgotten, "obsolete" buildings for a very long time now.

While their company and their associated Bldg 51 Gallery and Museum near downtown have thankfully preserved tens of thousands of architectural details and artifacts from buildings now gone, most of the edifices these were created for originally have been scraped from the Earth forever. Scrolling through their pages, you will find numberless details, lovingly created by dedicated craftsmen for things as insignificant as doorknobs, elevator call buttons, water fountains, exit signs, or just a dark corner most people never would have looked closely at. It didn't matter in those earlier times, because EVERY single detail mattered, and architects and builders built monuments for the Ages then. Not disposable, featureless, faceless, artless, identical boxes and cubicles. Architecture was an art then, not a commodity or a necessity, but a Craft.

Among the collected online archives of Urban Remains there appear at least two major Masonic temples that were both built in Chicago in the 1920s, and both were designed by prolific local architect Clarence Hatzfeld. 


Logan Square Masonic Temple


The first was the Logan Square Masonic Temple at 2451 N. Kedzie Street, northwest of downtown, erected between 1921-3. At the time of its construction, Freemasonry in the neighborhood was booming. The large and impressive Temple building was home to Logan Square Lodge 891 and several appendant bodies - and yet even as big as it was, it still wasn't capacious enough for all of the local neighborhood's Masonic-related activity. 
Humboldt Park Commandery No. 79

So, the Knights Templar of Humboldt Park Commandery No. 79 marched right across the street two years later, bought an 1897 Queen Anne mansion complete with a crenellated tower (appropriate for the knightly order's "club house"), and built a new adjoining asylum building as well. The two combined buildings still survive today, as the Stan Mansion (above, left) and the William Nowaczewski House (above, right).

Logan Square Temple is now the Armitage Baptist Church

Communities change, populations shift, and just reading numbers and figures rarely tells the whole story. Just six years after the Masonic fraternity reached its most enormous size in the U.S. (and Illinois), the Masons of Logan Square sold their building away in the 1960s. It was too big, too costly, too under-utilized by the Masons who had fled to the suburbs, after just forty years or so. The temple thankfully still survives today as the popular Armitage Baptist Church. But how much did Freemasonry change in size and interest in the last century? Consider this.

Logan Square Lodge eventually merged away and became part of William McKinley Lodge 876, which would merge again and again, finally being absorbed into Clarence P. Schwartz Lodge 1163 today. But it's much more complicated than that. Look at that lodge's total combined historical pedigree:
  • ELMWOOD PARK No.1163 (Mont Clare No.1040)
  • ASHLAR No.308 (Niagara No.992) (Guardian No.1140)
  • WRIGHT'S GROVE No.779 (Constantia No.783) (Constantia - Lessing No.557) (Trestle Board No.1032)
  • WILLIAM McKINLEY No.876 (Vega Herder No.669) (Logan Square No.891) (Crystal Honor No.1025)
The combined membership of what appears to have been thirteen lodges that all started merging about fifty years ago today meet in the Mont Clare Masonic Temple at 6910 W. Grand Avenue in Chicago.



South Side Masonic Temple in 2014


Less fortunate has been down south in Englewood. After more than a dozen years of being listed at or near the top of the "Most Endangered Buildings" lists in Chicago, at long last the South Side Masonic Temple at 64th and Green has finally met the wrecking ball. In its prime, it was home to the lodges named Mispah, Boulevard, University, Kosmos, Richard Cole, Cyrene, Wildeck, and Southtown, along with countless appendant bodies. Just like Logan Square, it too was constructed in 1921, and also gave up ownership in 1964 (though many bodies remained as renters until the 1980s).

Now, after decades of neglect and the ravages of time and vandalism, Eric Nordstrom has documented its destruction on the Urban Remains website, back in January.


January 14, 2018

I suspect that by now, there's nothing left to mark the former presence of Freemasonry there but a muddy, empty lot.

For a quick overview of some of Chicago's Masonic landmarks,
http://chicagotonight.wttw.com/2016/11/02/ask-geoffrey-history-freemasonry-chicago